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Hiring independent sales reps to help grow your business

What makes a good rep great?

What you’re looking to do is find sales reps that have access and connections to the businesses or types of customers you’re aiming to target.

When you’re searching, keep the following in mind:

  • Industry specific experience – to increase sales quickly, look for sales reps that have sold products or services similar to yours. Someone who really understands your industry will be able to make a difference sooner.
  • Excellent listeners – some of the best sales reps are able to listen to potential customers’ problems or pain points before launching into a sales pitch
  • Competitors – what’s really motivating your prospective sales representatives? It may not always be money so look for a sales rep that wants to be a top performer; someone who wants to win
  • Attitude – a can do attitude and the ability to go the extra mile. An attitude that would suit and ‘fit in’ with the company culture.

Hiring conditionally

It’s important to be clear about what defines success for you, especially since you’ll be paying based on the sales representatives sales’ performance. A trial period is a good way to find out if your new employees are on the same wavelength as you – you can set them some targets and then decide if they’re the right fit for your business’ growth.

Many entrepreneurs have been able to grow their product line with the help of a sales rep. But before working with one, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Determine a rate of commission

Consider the experience and previous success rate of your new representatives. If you’re bringing people on board who are well established in the industry, you might want to offer them a commission rate at the higher end of the scale.

It’s also important to determine payment terms. Ideally, you’ll want to pay them after your customers pay you, but keep in mind that most sales reps will expect to be paid within 2 weeks.

Influences on commission

So what influences the amount of commission you decide to pay your sales reps? Consider:

  • The level of customer service – you may need to raise your commission rates depending on how much customer service you expect your sales reps to provide clients.
  • The chances of repeat business – does the customer need to be sold on the product or service each time, or is repeat business highly likely? For example, if you’re a growing hairdressing franchise with an exceptional record of retaining new customers because of the quality of your hairdressing staff, repeat business may be likely with or without a sales reps’ input.
  • Leads or closing – are your sales reps closing deals or only chasing leads?

Be sure to build the rate of commission into your pricing structure so you can retain your business’ profit margins.

Define territory

Each of your sales reps should be given a catchment area to utilise their talents. How you define these areas is up to you; whether they’re broken up by geographic location such as state, town or suburb, or certain booths at trade shows and exhibitions.

What’s important is that you keep your goals in mind when defining sales territory for each sales rep. Collect data on the primary locations of your prospective customers and how much time a representative will need to spend with each prospect.

Make sure you review your territories frequently but remember that clients will prefer to see a familiar face rather than a continuing stream of new sales reps

Organise marketing materials

Your sales reps will probably need an array of marketing materials and samples to assist them when selling your goods or services.

One of the ways to provide them with this material is on your own website. It’s a good idea to have content such as blogs, product information and customer testimonials available for your sales reps to refer to.

Make sure you’ve budgeted for the materials that your sales reps will need so they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities.


Regardless of how experienced your new sales reps are, it’s still worth investing some time in training them on areas that are specific to your business. They need to have a clear understanding of your customers, their expectations and your practices.


Establish the right level of communication

It might turn out that the more often you keep in touch and communicate with your sales reps, the better they perform. Or it could be more productive to gather your sales reps together for monthly meetings in person or via a conference call while letting them manage themselves over the course of each month.

Either way, it’s important to schedule regular times of communication, whether that’s every week, a few times a month or even daily.


Next steps

  • Talk to your local ANZ Small Business Specialist.

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