Managing your independent sales reps is as important, however time consuming at the beginning, as managing your inside sales rep. However, given the potential sales increase, sales managers should take care to ensure that outside reps get all the attention they need.
There is no simple formula to creating a great working relationship between you as a principal and an independent sales rep. It is built over time through mutual trust and support. Here are a few points to follow to make sure that your relationship with your sales rep is always an improving work in progress.
Communications form the back bone of any successful relationship and trust is a very important part of this. Research shows that any relationship without a proper two-way communication is destined to fail. A sales rep takes the first step of selling your product or service when he understands what needs to be sold. It therefore logical that the salesperson must be provided with good training.
Some principals think that an experienced independent sales rep will not need training because he worked with similar lines. This can potentially negatively impact sales if his understanding does not match with what you offer. Without clear goals or comprehensive sales training, your sales rep is likely to be confused. Such a situation is detrimental to the effectiveness of your sales campaign.
Set Realistic Expectations
For example, say you have a Product A that historically never sold more than 100 units. If you tell your sales rep that the highest amount sold was 300, the sales rep might get disheartened even if he managed to achieve a sale of 150 units. Being honest with your manufacturers rep is the first step in building trust and a solid business partnership. There is no better asset than having a motivated, fired up rep who trusts you and believes in your products.
Returning to our initial point of why external sales reps need to be well cared for: your organization’s reputation is important. A former sales rep who is upset is more likely to damage your brand’s reputation than somebody who departs on good terms. When little time was spent selling your products, your former rep will have little or no loyalty to your company. There is no way of keeping tabs on the individual as there is with a regular employee. It is therefore important that communications are clear and expectations set realistically.
Have regular training sessions and interactions
Assign a supervisor to monitor the performance and assist in selling. Make sure that your sales rep is well versed with the process of payouts from your company. All these key steps help avoid conflict from mismatched expectations later. Your escalation process should also be clearly communicated in case the immediate supervisor is not cooperating or is not available.
Properly managed, independent sales reps can be your key asset in expanding territories and increasing market penetration. In a word, it pays off!
With years of experience, RepHunter has been allowing fast-growing companies to expand their operations by providing them the most suitable sales reps. RepHunter, through its unique matching process, enables manufacturers and businesses to build their sales force with independent sales representatives and manufacturer’s representatives.
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