Sales Reps: Employed Versus Independent

Ok, your small business has a product that is selling well locally. With proof of concept and the manufacturing capacity, you’re all set to expand your market. You may have only one question left, “how do I sell it?” That’s easy! I’ve got lots of employees that work for me, they can sell our product! Or wait, should I hire an independent sales reps? They have more expertise, but… hmmm…

Alright, hang on. How do you really decide what’s right for you? Let’s start by looking at using your employees. What are the benefits? They already work for you, so you’re paying them already, and they know your product. I mean they should, shouldn’t they? They worked to create it! But just because they know the product doesn’t mean they know how to sell it, or have the means to do so effectively.

How about independent sales reps? How can they help? Well essentially, sales reps represent your product to various retailers in an effort to sell more of your product. Since this is their job, they cover multiple different lines, usually in related fields, which allow them to better sell your product to more places. This is called “multiple-line selling,” which increases how effectively and efficiently your product can be sold by selling it along with similar products.  In addition, the different lines a rep can cover will increase their exposure to more customers to whom they can also market your product!

Advantages to Using Independent Sales Reps

To spell it out more plainly, here is a list of advantages to using independent sales reps:

  • Independent reps allow YOU to enter new markets in a faster, more cost-effective way. The rep does this by bringing his existing customer base to the table, and using them to help sell your product alongside the others. Reps know their territories, and have established networks of buyers, as well as other sales reps! For any company, especially new ones, this can be crucial to establishing a solid place in the market
  • When a rep sells one product to a buyer, this can trigger more sales of other products which that rep also carries as well
  • Reps are paid on commission, leading them to be highly motivated
  • Sales costs are known up front
  • Reps provide increased focus inside their territories, since they have high familiarity with what local buyers tend to prefer. Reps can identify new product opportunities much more quickly than an inside sales force with little knowledge of the territory
  • Reps have a rapport with their customers. Often they live within their community, and have a vested interest in both their customers, and the products they sell.
  • As reps do not work directly for you, they can provide an objective view on product improvement, as well as more customer feedback on new products. Customers often feel more confident in sharing their opinions with sales reps than they do with inside sales staff, leading to more suggestions and constructive criticism
  • Reps provide a faster response to any issues customers may have because they are often in close proximity. They may also seem more accessible to customers.
  • Reps are able to provide consultative selling, customer service, product demonstrations, product and sales training, sales analysis, credit reporting, market research, market development information, product quoting, and current product improvements, new product development, and participation in sales meetings, trade shows and conventions. Some may also offer showroom displays.
  • Finally, Reps can alert YOU to new developments within their territories that could affect YOUR lines!
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