Independent Representatives

Let’s talk about working with Independent Representatives.

I cringe every time I hear a sales leader or business owner complain about non-performing reps. Assuming the rep has been in business for more than 2 or 3 years, their lack of performance is more than likely your fault than it is theirs. Keep in mind, reps make $0 in salary – they are 100% commission-based. With that in mind, we can reasonably assume that they are either independently wealthy, or they do in fact know how to succeed. The question is: “why are they not performing for you?”

Human nature says that salespeople are going to sell whatever is easiest to make them money – this goes double for independent reps! If they’re not selling your product, it’s because on the “time – sales continuum” you are not competitive versus their other options. Let’s look at some of the reasons this can happen:

  • You both made a mistake – the rep accepted a product line they weren’t really in a position to sell, and you hired a rep that wasn’t a good fit for your company. While this does occasionally happen, I suggest this is the least likely reason.
  • The complicated internal sales process, complex or inaccurate commissions plan, or other challenging aspects of your company make it so that it is too difficult to do business with. This is of course the most dangerous of all reasons as it clearly can be impacting other areas of the business.
  • Most likely, the case is that they are simply not getting the support they require to succeed: sales training, tech support, demo equipment, joint sales calls, etc… Think about it this way – you wouldn’t hire a remote salesperson and then just expect them to perform without any additional support. Why should it be any different with a rep? Remember, any manager’s #1 responsibility is to ensure that their team has all the tools and resources they need to be successful!

So, the next time you find yourself silently angry with an independent rep, consider that fact that the problems may be internal.

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