When looking to grow your business, hiring independent sales representatives may benefit your growth. Independent sales representatives often have access to connections in the industry or the customers you want to target.
This is especially important in the current environment as changing customer and market conditions means that the customers you were previously targeting and winning may not be the same.
When you’re searching for a sales representative to hire, keep the following in mind:
- Industry specific experience – to increase sales quickly; look for sales representatives 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 representatives 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 representative who wants to be a top performer; someone who wants to win.
- Attitude – look for a ‘can do’ attitude and the ability to go the extra mile, as well as a person who will ‘fit in’ with the company culture.
In addition to the personal traits of a potential hire, there are considerations in how you structure the role.
It’s important to be clear about what defines success for you, especially since you’ll be paying sales representatives based on their 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 targets and then decide if they’re the right fit for your business.
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 two weeks.
Influences on commission
What influences the amount of commission you decide to pay your sales representatives?
- The level of customer service – you may need to raise your commission rates depending on how much customer service you expect your sales representatives to provide clients.
- The chance 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 representatives’ input.
- Leads or closing – are your sales representatives 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.
Typically, each of your sales representatives should be given a catchment area to work in. 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 territories for each sales representative. Collect data on the primary locations of your prospective customers and how much time a representative will need to spend with each prospective customer.
Make sure you review your territories or areas frequently, but remember that clients will prefer to see a familiar face rather than a continuing stream of new sales representatives.
Regardless of how experienced your new sales representatives are, it’s still worth investing some time to train them on areas that are specific to your business. They need to have a clear understanding of your customers, their expectations and your practices.
Organise marketing materials
Your sales representatives 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 representatives to refer to. Make sure you’ve budgeted for the materials that your sales representatives will need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Establish the right level of communication
It might turn out that the more often you keep in touch and communicate with your sales representatives, the better they perform. Or it could be more productive to gather your sales representatives 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.