In 2008 when my business partner and I founded B2B Sales Connections Inc. we had spent our careers working for companies that sold their products and services using independent dealers and independent sales agents. Initially our new company worked with a few manufacturers based in Canada, the United States and Europe who were looking to expand their sales into the North American marketplace.
At first these companies hired us to find and pre-screen sales agents. I often describe what we do as more of a matchmaking service than a sales recruiting and training company. As more and more companies approached us to help them find sales agents we realized that most small and midsized businesses did not have a clear picture of what they needed to do to find, recruit, train and manage their sales agents.
Most often business people looking for sales agents simply placed an ad in a trade publication or searched an on line sales agent job board. Then they conducted a couple of interviews and decided what agents to hire based on their “gut feeling.” Once the sales agent signed on they were given a few glossy brochures, a price book and expected to “get out and sell.”
In the first few months there was very little communication between the sales agent and the company. Unfortunately both thought the other one did not need any direction or feedback because they both knew what was expected of them.
Over time the sales agent would become frustrated with the lack of direction, support and training and the business owner would become frustrated that the sales agent was not performing as expected. Months later the situation would not have improved and the relationship would usually end badly.
Something had to give. As more and more business owners and sales agents complained about the same recurring challenges, we realized that a change in thinking was needed. We first began by working with our clients to ensure they had a comprehensive job description that included a full disclosure of the objectives and accountabilities for the sales agent.
Then we began to work with companies to create a sales agent playbook that would outline all the steps the agent and company needed to cover in their sales process. Our goal was to put a step-by-step sales program in place for the company and the new sales agent. This way nothing was left to chance and both parties understood and agreed upon their role in building a successful business relationship.
We Hit The Nail On The Head
With the execution of a proper recruiting process, mutually agreed upon objectives and accountabilities and the introduction of a sales agent playbook, more companies where finding that the systematic approach to building their sales agent channel was working. Agents were becoming successful faster and the confusion over what was expected of each party disappeared.
The bottom line was both the agents and the companies they represented were make money in new markets and territories faster that they thought possible.
If you would like more detailed information about establishing your own channel of sales agents then order a copy of: How To Find Recruit and Manage Independent Sales Agents
The book is a comprehensive guide on how to select, manage and motivate sales agents. It provides proven exercises, forms, and templates to equip interested sales managers with the necessary tools to run their own successful sales agent program. If you would like see more article on working with independent sales agents please visit our resource centre.
Testimonials for – How to Find, Recruit & Manage Independent Sales Agents
“You are going to see a move towards more sales outsourcing. Agents are going to play a very important role as more international companies are trying to break into the North American market.”
Pierre Carriere, President BEXSA Solutions Inc.
“Bob has written a comprehensive guide which offers the reader a complete review of how to select, manage and motivate independent reps. He provides proven exercises, forms, and templates to equip interested sales managers with the necessary tools to run their own successful sales agent program. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the independent sales rep business model” Allan R. Lambert, CSP Billiken Group, LLC