One way to increase sales is to build a sales force for your business using independent sales representatives. An independent sales representative or manufacturer’s representative sells the products of several different companies.
Before you go out and find a sales rep for your business, here are some steps to consider when hiring sales representatives to market your products or services:
- Analyze if you can afford to hire a sales representative now. The first question you need to be asking is whether you have the budget to hire a sales representative now.
- Determine the sales process. What is the sales process of your business? How will order and fulfillment be done? A sales representative selling through home parties will require different process if you are using a drop shipper or if sales is done mainly through cold calling on the telephone.
- Think about the best way to present and sell your products. You will be providing the sales reps with detailed instructions on how to sell your products. Should the products be sold in a party setting? Should it be sold on a one-on-one basis? Then prepare your sales manuals and detailed instructions.
- Decide on the compensation structure for your sales representatives. You can use a combination of salary and commissions or salary plus bonus. Commissions usually are based on the amount of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, on the performance of all sales workers in the group or district, or on the company’s performance. An attractive compensation package can attract the right type of sales representatives your company.
- Find the right sales representatives. The right representatives can make or break your company. You need to start thinking about your hiring process – what types of candidates you need to look for, what skill sets they need to possess, and where you can find them. Your sales reps must have good skills in prospecting, presenting and closing the sales. They should be motivated and hungry to sell more and more of your products. As for the contract, here’s a sample sales representative contract that you can use for your business.
- Be ready to train the sales representatives. You cannot just tell your sales reps to go out and start selling. You need to help them run through the sales process detailing how best to sell your products. A sales process defines the steps necessary to successfully close a sale, from cold calling to closing, and of course, the customer retention strategy that follows a sale. Give them the spiels they need; it is important that your sales reps are informed and knowledgeable about your products.
- Find the right candidates for your sales positions. Do not settle for mediocre sales representatives. Ask for referrals from friends, family and acquaintances, particularly those who have had similar selling experiences. Advertise in appropriate publications and websites, such as Craigslist and other local publications.
- Create a sales tracking and performance monitoring system. Use technology to help you track the performance of your sales representatives. Check out Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to help you understand the effectiveness of your sales representatives, as well as help the sales representatives become more efficient. An example of CRM for small businesses is Salesforce.com http://www.salesforce.com
- Make your long-term plans. If having sales representative is the best option for you, you need to start thinking of the long terms plans for your business. How many sales representatives do you want? Will you need a sales manager? What geographical areas do you want to be covered? How will you expand to other geographical areas?
To find sales representatives, here are some resources that you may want to check out:
- Association of Independent Manufactures
- Bureau of Wholesale Sales Representatives
- United Association Manufacturers’ Reps.