Sales agents, sales representatives, salespersons, wholesale agents, leads, venders – you may call them whatever you want but the important thing is for you to pick up that phone and call them now.
Can’t you try to get into retail stores on your own? After all, who knows your product better than yourself, right?
Right. No doubt about that.
However, a sales agent – a self-employed person who works on a commission basis – has been trained to successfully sell and to broker the best possible deal for you. Besides, the commission you pay them is a good incentive for them to knock on as many doors as possible and bring you in new customers.
And while finding a sales agent should be relatively easy – you can start by asking your stockists for recommendations, searching online or in trade fairs – finding the RIGHT sales agent will require a little more careful scrutiny.
Selecting an agent that understands your niche
You are about to make a decision that could make or break your business so it’s important not to take it lightly.
All sales agents have (or should have) a general understanding of customer psychology and effective selling practices, however you will be wise to look for someone who’s had previous experience in your target market. And by that I mean if you are in the spice business, you’d want to work with an agent who understands, works with, and sells to food retailers and related stores/stockists rather than someone who’s devoted most of his or her professional life to selling swimwear.
So, you’ve ticked one box – you know you have to look for a sales agent who specialises in your niche market.
But how do you make the choice?
How do you narrow it down so that you don’t end up choosing someone who does nothing for your business and ends up wasting your time?
You pick up the phone, dial their number and talk to them about your products, your goals and your potential collaboration.
And remember, as Vivian Giang from Business Insider explains, a good sales agent should listen to you more than he/she should speak, “getting an understanding of your needs and then finding a solution. In listening more than talking, they can better accommodate to what you are looking for.”
During that conversation, there are ten very important questions you need to ask which, will help you realise whether that sales agent is a good fit for you and your business.
These are the ten questions you must ask a potential sales agent on your first contact:
- How many retailers are you currently selling to?
- What brands are you representing to those retailers?
- What is your business with those retailers?
- How are the relationships? Are they current? Are they long term or new?
- Is your business declining or is growing? How are you measuring the growth?
- Are there new opportunities in business for your agency and for the brands you represent? Are you opening up new opportunities?
- What is your process to take on a new product?
- How often do you set up meetings with your brands and your retailers?
- What is your geographical coverage?
- How often do you get on the road to meet your retailers?
What about “How many years’ experience do you have in sales?” did I miss that all too important question?
No, I didn’t.
You see, how long a sales agent has been operating is not really an indication of his or her capabilities. It is an indication of a long call list but the reality of the matter is that you could have people who have been selling all their lives but are utterly ineffective, while someone with only a few years’ experience under their belts can be highly motivated and dynamic and possess all the right tools to build very strong relationships with retailers.
Establishing a sound relationship with your sales agent is critical to your future success, so get the insiders’ guide to selecting the right person to build your sales from the eBook.