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A Guide To Hiring And Managing a Sales Agent For Your Business

Sep 19, 2019

Sales is a crucial aspect of any business. If you have a great product or service, but are not doing enough to get the word out and obtain new clients, all your efforts are in vain.

There are many ways to seek out potential clients, and hiring a sales agent is one of them.

Sales agents are your best bet when it comes to growing your business or launching a new product in a new market.

They are very cost-effective, bring you a good ROI, and are low risk, with quick results. Sales agents are the route to go when you are venturing into a new market, where you do not have any pre-existing customer base.

So what makes a sales agent the right person for your business?

What does a sales agent actually do for your business?

Is it more beneficial to hire a sales agent specialised in your industry?

And most importantly, how do you go about managing your sales agents and the whole sales process?

We’ll be answering all that and much more in this blog post, so keep reading.

Who is a Sales Agent?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first review who a sales agent actually is.

A sales agent is a person or a company who acts in the interests of your company by promoting your products or services to potential leads in the market.

Hiring a sales agent will give you a high ROI.

Hiring a sales agent will give you a high ROI.

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Sales agents do this in exchange for a sales commission, that would usually be a percentage of the sales that they have made for your company. This method of using sales agents is especially beneficial if you are a small sized company without much experience in international trade and export operations. 

Using a sales agent allows you to form connections within the international market even when you are just starting out, and your budget is minimal.

What is The Profile of a Typical Sales Agent?

Before you go ahead and approach a sales agent, here are some useful and interesting statistics, courtesy of Agent Base.

  • Typically, sales agents are male. Only about 5-10% of all sales agents are female.
  • The average age of a sales agent is 55, with more sales agents in the 40-70 age range as compared to the 20-30 age range.
  • Although sales agents come from various backgrounds, most of them would have had a sales background, either being in a managerial or directorial role. 

What Does a Sales Agent Do?

To understand what the primary roles of a sales agent are, it is important to study the process involved in getting sales through an agent.

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For ease of understanding, let’s first get the basics down:

A sales agent is an independent contractor who sells another company’s (or person’s) products and /or services.

A principal is the company that manufactures the product or provides the service to be sold.

A client is the purchaser or customer of the product or service that is being sold.

The process of a sales agent is pretty straightforward:

  • It starts with the sales agent approaching the principal and understanding the functionalities and benefits of their products or services. 
  • The agent then proceeds to approach the clients with this information and possibly a sample or a demo of the product or service.
  • The client, pleased with the sample/demo, places an order for the products or services.
  • The sales agent send this order to the principal, who then fulfills it and invoices the client. 
  • Once the client has cleared the payment, the sales agent then invoices the principal on the agreed upon commission. The principal pays the commission and the process is complete.

This image from CADEXPORT will make clear the whole process:

 

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What Are Some Common Types Of Sales Agent Professionals?

Depending upon the type of industry they have expertise in, sales agents can classify themselves into various types. Here are some of the most common types of sales agents:

Insurance Sales Agent:

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An insurance sales agent works for insurance companies to bring them new leads by selling insurance to them.

An insurance agent would be quite well versed in the insurance industry and would be able to explain complex insurance terms to a layman. This way they will be able to educate prospective clients on the various insurance policies that are appropriate for them and help them choose an insurance plan that will perfectly suit their needs. 

Insurance sales agents could work only for one principal, or multiple principals at the same time.

Real Estate Sales Agent:

A real estate sales agent deals with the sale of commercial or individual-owned properties or land. They have a good understanding of the market and can predict when the best time to buy or sell property is. 

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Real estate agents have a fixed commission on the property they are assigned to sell. 

They are also good in gauging the value of various properties and figuring out how to make the maximum profit by selling.

Advertising Sales Agent:

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An advertising sales agent sells advertising space to businesses so that they can bring about more awareness about that business to the public. 

They are good at making presentations, communicating with prospective clients, and handing a strong customer base. They could work in various fields and with different media such as print, television, internet marketing, and even radio.

What is The Difference Between a Sales Agent and a Sales Rep?

A sales agent is different from a sales representative in a few ways. For starters, a sales  agent is usually works independently as a contractor. He may represent multiple clients at a time, and he earns a percentage of the sale, or a commission. Sales agents work in the field and they only benefit by making sales for their principals.

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A sales representative (sales rep), on the other hand, works directly for a company and is responsible for selling the company’s products and/or services. They are usually salaried employees, with an incentive for the number of monthly sales they make. Sales reps work in the office building of the company and are involved in all decisions regarding marketing of the product or service.

Choosing a sales agent or a sales rep is up to your company and its needs. In order to make the best choice, it is important to first consider how you want your company to be represented.

Let us take a look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of hiring a sales agent for your business.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages of Working With a Sales Agent? 

Advantages

There are many advantages of hiring a sales agent to take care of your company’s sales:

  1. Sales agents are self employed, independent contractors. They are flexible in the way they work and quite talented in what they do.
  2. Since sales agents work on a commission basis, they are very goal oriented and will do their best to get results for your company.

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 3. Sales agents are not regular employees – that means even though they might seem a bit more expensive than sales reps, you do not have to worry about extra compensations, working expenses, office space, etc. 

4. Sales agents have worked with similar principals before and already have an established customer base who trusts them.

Disadvantages

There are just a few disadvantages of hiring a sales agent without actually understanding his role. Your company might have unrealistic expectations of the sales agent and may mismanage the sales agents.

It is crucial to have a proper management system in place so that you are able to set achievable goals for your sales agents and improve performance.

What is a Sales Agent Management System?

A sales agent management system allows you to monitor the performance of your sales agents, set realistic goals and expectations for them, and improve the overall sales for your company.

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A good sales agent management system will have the following features:

1. A Robust System:

A software that helps you track sales achieved by the team and by sales agents. This will help to enhance team performance.

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2. Easy accessibility:

The software and database should be easily accessible from different devices such as laptops, desktops, and mobile phones. You should also be able to make changes and inputs from any device.

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3. Customer Self Service:

Your customers should be able to easily report issues in case they would like to. They should also be able to view the progress of their raised issue and understand what is being done to resolve it.

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Why Do You Need a Sales Agent Management System?

 A sales agent management system allows you to stay updated with all the sales activity of your team.

 You can easily track any sales made, new leads discovered, and payments made with a good sales agent management software.

 Having a practical and robust management system will allow you to reduce costs, time, and resources spent on tracking down information and allow you and other team members view all sales related data in a single place.

 Second CRM allows you to simplify your sales processes by providing you a highly efficient sales agent management system.

 

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