5 Surprising Thoughts for New Independent Sales Professionals

You’ve been a sales professional for a long time; you’ve been a loyal company employee, you’ve made it to President’s Club, you’ve hit your quotas, and have a long list of happy customers.

But at some point, you decided that the company’s share seems a little bigger than it ought to be, for the amount of work that you are providing. And frankly, you’d like the freedom and opportunities that come with working for yourself being an independent sales professional.

And so you’re think of going out on your own; selling for yourself, as independent sales professionals do.

If you decide to leave the company fold,  there are a few things that you’re likely to discover right away before you can work as independent sales professionals:

  1.  Initially, it’s hard to sleep at night for all newly turned independent sales professionals. It’s a lot scarier than you’d expected. I wish it wasn’t true. But it is. When you sever ties with your safety-net, expect some sleepless nights and some second-guessing of your decision. That doesn’t make it a wrong decision. It just makes it stressful. Much easier to get through if you know that this is coming. So plan for it. What are you going to tell yourself when the self-doubts begin? Write it down. Give a copy to your loved ones so they can reinforce the message. You can do this.
  2. Being independent sales professionals you don’t have to get dressed every day. It’s not a sin to work in your pajamas at 2pm on days when you’re in the office. It’s ok to schedule time to go to Johnny’s basketball practice in the afternoon, or have an actual lunch date with your spouse. As corporate employees, it feels like ‘hooky’ if we’re not ‘on’ 100% of the work day. You know, at least intellectually, that that is silly. You may need to work at 10pm some nights, after going to Susie’s soccer game at 2pm. That’s ok. Being in control of your time is ok.
  3. Benefits of being independent sales professionals are often a misnomer.  I am stunned at the power of the word ‘benefits’.  Before you seriously entertain the concept of going independent, go get bids on what it will cost for you to replace your current benefits. Health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance…whatever you have and want to keep…find out what it will cost you to replace that from your own pocket. Next, run the numbers – with the benefits cost, how much can you make on your own? For most independent sales reps, benefits look really different when they see them as a cost center.
  4. When people become independent sales professionals they can sleep in their own bed almost every night. Why travel a 6 state territory, just because ‘the company’ gave you that territory? That’s a dumb waste of time. Get out a map. Draw a 100 mile radius around your house. Unless you live in Presque Isle, Maine or Kingman, Arizona, you probably have lots of prospects in your circle. Go find more products or services to sell to the niche that is in your circle, instead of making a bigger circle to see more people in far away places. Stay close to home. Sell more. Be more efficient. You’ll probably make more money this way too.  And sleep in your own bed at night.
  5. For independent sales professionals the corner office just ain’t important any more. I remember at the big company where I worked for many years, the location of your office, the size of desk, even the number of allocated plants in your office; these were all measures of company stature. And I cared about that stuff. I’ve been gone from the corporate world for a long time now, but I can tell you with certainty, as independent sales professionals, you’ll care a lot more about things like scheduling time at the gym or knowing the FEDEX guy’s name or picking out the right holiday cards for your customers than the dimensions of your office. And I think that probably makes you a little healthier too when you are graded as independent sales professionals.

Good luck with your decision/transition.Please register with us at RepRight.  If you’re looking to consider being an independent sales rep, this is a great way to see what’s out there and the potential.

 

No Excuses

As sales people, we all have days where we just don’t want to….make the call, go see the client, fill out the paperwork.

There are just some days.

If today is one of those days, we offer this:

5 Key Considerations Before Building A Sales Team

Does this sound like you? You know you need to figure out your sales plan going forward. Building an independent sales team is a strong consideration for you. With an independent sales team, you pay commission on the sale without the upfront costs associated with salaried sales reps. Before you head down the independent sales route, consider these 5 things:

Identifying qualified independent sales representatives is really tough.

The average experienced independent sales rep carries 4-6 different lines (products or services). That means they are busy. Unlike people looking for jobs, independent sales reps tend not to gravitate to job boards…they aren’t looking for a job!  You’re going to have to use some creative techniques – industry contacts or a service like ours (RepRight) to help you identify possible candidates.

When you find potential candidates, you need to treat them like gold.

It is so hard to find great candidates that you’ll want to prioritize initial communications with your potential reps over most any other business communication. While no one knows for sure, it seems likely that there are about 25 great independent sales opportunity for every single qualified, available independent sale rep.

What you say at the first meeting is make or break.

When you talk to your prospective sales representatives, focus on what you can do for them, not product, not company. In other words, sell the features of working with you and your company. The rep holds the cards. There are many more qualified opportunities than there are qualified reps. So frame your conversation around:

  • basics of the product or service
  • commission
  • work culture
  • how you support your reps (leads you’ll supply, protected work territory, bonus at goal, etc)
  • stories of other current reps’ success

Turnover is a definite consideration.

Regardless of how well you recruit and vet your candidates/new sales reps, you’re going to have turnover. If you can keep churn at less than 50% a year, that’s great.

Recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Once you have your team in place, you’re going to continue to recruit. Some reps will not be successful. Others won’t jibe well with your culture and requirements. Others just won’t find the product or service engaging and will prefer to sell other things. You’ll find that you’re always recruiting to find more great talent.

Building a successful independent sales team is tough, but when you’ve it figured out, you can scale through sales at any pace you wish, with some of the most dedicated and hardworking sales reps anywhere.

Sell More and Grow Faster – Really? Discover The Truth About Commission Sales

Sell More and Grow Faster – Really? Discover The Truth About Commission Sales

It sounds too good to be true… You can outsource sales function to eager commissions only sale reps. You can find lots of them. They will sell your product far and wide. You stay at the shop and fill the orders, paying only a commission on what is sold. These are the benefits you get when you outsource sales function or involved in commissions sale.

Who wouldn’t want that?

  • No management headaches.
  • No worries about underachievers.
  • No fixed overhead.
  • No expense reports or bonuses to pay.
  • Just lots and lots of orders.

So if that’s such a great plan, why doesn’t everybody outsource sales  and work strictly with commission only independent sales reps?

There are a couple of really important reason why working with independent sales reps tends to be binary; either it works like a charm or it doesn’t work at all.

#1  It is hard (And I mean seriously hard) to find the right sales rep to represent your business.

If  you haven’t spent time at our site, www.repright.com, please come by. We can help. But even then, it’s still hard. Be prepared for some real work to find and keep the reps who can make your business grow.

#2 Most businesses that outsource sales function or are involved in commissions sale aren’t used to thinking of the sales rep as a partner instead of an employee.

If you are going to work with true commission sales professionals, they will demand to be treated as partners, not employees. The harsh reality is that there are far more products to be represented than there are great independent sales reps. The good ones are hard to find and keep. You have to work at it; treat them as your partners. If you’re not up for that type of relationship, it’s just not going to work.

#3 It’s not really ‘commission only’.

You’ll need to put money and time and effort into things like:

  • Developing high quality sales literature
  • Defining a sales point of contact to help your new sales team with questions
  • Create custom training for your new sales team
  • If yours is a long sales cycle product, then you may need to offer some up-front incentives
  • Assigning someone in your organization to be responsible for sourcing new reps and managing territory assignments

#4 It’s not ‘management free’

Great independent sales rep still need to have help. They start out not knowing your product. They make mistakes. They chase leads that don’t pay off. That’s just part of the life of any sales rep. The more you can do to help your reps get out there with a good message and good support from you, the more likely they will be to be successful. A quiet phone is not your friend. If you aren’t hearing from your reps, call them!

Bottomline:

To outsource sales and commissions sale is harder than you think it will be. It often takes longer and costs more than you want, and turnover can be high But pay-for-performance sales outsourcing, when done right,  is still only a fraction of the hiring full time sales employees. And then you have the most highly motivated, involved, successful sales team in the world.

 

 

Change your words, change your vetting with sales reps

Change your words, change the outcome with independent sales reps

You are a hiring company, and you have an under performing independent sales rep. What are you going to do?

Option 1 – Let him know who’s boss. Be loud. Be clear. This is your company, and the rep better get in line and start producing right now. NO more of sub-par performance.

Option 2 – Meet with him and ask (sincerely) what’s going on. Don’t go in with a pre-conceived notion. Listen to the story. Then think about an answer. Listen first, respond second.  If the story in untenable then change the rep. If the story makes sense, and it’s one that you can help with, then provide the needed support to help the rep to become successful.

Most people know that option 2 generates a better response than option 1. And yet, lots of bosses still take option 1.

How can re-ordering your thought process from “Express dissatisfaction first, listen second,” to “Listen first. Then respond accordingly,” – does that really make a difference?

Yes. It does.

You don’t have to change the message. But if you’re prone to be an Option 1 type of manager, then definitely change the words. Here’s a short little video that shows the power of word-reorganization.

I have a friend who works with a retailer who contracts with independent sales reps. “The beatings will continue until moral improves,” seems to be that retailer’s mantra.

Independent sales reps don’t generally respond well to verbal beatings (not that anyone does, really. But salaried employees have less flexibility; it’s harder to change course). For the contracting company there was never a truer axiom than ‘You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.’ It’s ok to have rules, tough policies, high standards. And it’s ok to make changes in representation when that is required.

But it is not ok – not ever – to try to use intimidation tactics to influence independent sales reps. Independent reps are intolerant of immature, bad-management-esque tirades. Independent sales reps vote quickly, with their feet.

 

10 Things That Prove You Are an Amazing Sales rep

Being a great independent sales rep is a heck of an achievement. It says that you don’t need supervision or external motivation to get your job done.  At RepRight, it’s our mission to bring awareness to the value that Pay for Performance Sales (commission or independent) reps bring to our daily lives. In that spirit, here are 10 things that prove that you are an amazing sales rep!

  1. It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re not trying to ‘look busy’.  You’re trying to beat your numbers from last week.
  2. It’s Monday morning and instead of trying to wake up and look interested at the sales meeting, you’re already in the field selling.
  3. You have so much windshield time under your belt that you could have driven around the globe 3 times.

4.You can spot a profitable line a mile away, and you’ll dog the principal until you get it for your territory.

  1. You end up coaching and being an adviser to companies that call you to represent their unproven, new-to-market products.
  2. If you had a nickel for every ‘no’, you’d be richer than Bill Gates.

7 .You know that if you felt the need to complain every time you got a ‘no’, you’d be in a new line of work by now.

8 .You’re the only guy you know who is in the field by 8, still there at 5, and uses Saturday for the in-office day.

9 .The first time a principal is late with commissions is the last time you rep for that principal.

10.You’ll walk away from a  line, regardless of the commission potential, if the principal doesn’t treat you with respect.

The ranks of truly great independent sales reps and pay for performance sales reps are growing. We’re changing how business is done in the USA. Thanks for your contribution and reading a small guide about pay for performance sales reps by www.repright.com .

 

Dangers of Becoming an Independent Sales Rep

You’ve been a sales pro for quite a while. You’re good at it, and you enjoy solving problems and closing business.

Maybe now it’s time to be more in charge of the products you represent, the sales process, and your income. Maybe it’s time to consider going independent.

Here’s a quick look at 5 of the biggest gotchas in becoming an independent sales rep:

#1 Financial security

This is far and away the scariest element of going independent for most people. You lose the safety net that comes with being a direct employee. Most people I know who switched to independent sales rep spent some sleepless nights and very anxious first months. This is normal. If the anxiety is too much, then you know that being an independent sales rep may impose a stress level beyond your tolerance. The trick is to learn to take the ups and downs in stride.

#2 No team support

When  you’re independent,  there is no team. You work for yourself. You’re your own customer service, HR, accounting, and marketing departments. The products you represent may provide some support in some of these areas, but you will be ultimately responsible for all aspects of your business and your job.  And that can be overwhelming. It can also be freeing!

Find yourself a good support team (maybe a part time service helper, a bookkeeper, someone to help with marketing, etc). You don’t need to be able to hire a staff to have great support. There are plenty of people in other disciplines who, like you, want the freedom to work independently. Maybe you can find a mom with kids in school who’d love to help you with customer service while her kids are gone during the day. She works from home and supports your customers by answering their questions and taking phone orders. Maybe she does your pack and ship too; you can work out all sorts of arrangements. When you’re a non-traditional worker, you’ll find lots of other disciplines that also have non-traditional workers . It’s easy to put together a strong team that thinks out of the box!

#3 Loneliness

Being independent sales rep means that you won’t have regular sales meetings or ‘get pumped up’ sessions. You probably won’t have a manager and certainly not a ‘boss’ who directs your activities and helps you when you get down. You won’t have a ready-made selling team. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t need support and a sympathetic ear or someone to help you solve daily challenges.

Successful sales people, whether direct employee or independent sales rep, need that sort of reinforcement. Since it doesn’t come standard with most products you’ll probably represent (note: the really really good product lines that have extensive experience working with independent sales rep will probably provide true sales support; someone to help you become and stay successful with their product). But in most cases, this doesn’t exit. So build it yourself. Set aside training time each quarter. Find a group of non-competitive sales reps and hold a weekly breakfast where you hold each other accountable. Make yourself a plan vs actual goals list – and maintain it to be a successful independent sales rep.

#4 “Yes, I am at home, but I am working…”

This is a trap that happens for many home-based workers. Lots of days, you’ll be on the road. Some days though, you will probably work from home. The temptation for your friends, neighbors, family, etc is to think that ‘since he’s home, he can do whatever he wants.’ You’ll need to separate yourself from personal interruptions. The beauty of working from home is that you can set up your own schedule and mold it around your personal needs and it is the real beauty of being independent sales rep. But be careful not to allow working from home to be an excuse not to get your work done.

#5 Turning it off

Conversely, it can be tough to turn off the day when you work from home. But you have to do it. You have to decide when you’re done working and then be done. Mindfulness is a really important skill when you’re self -employed. When you’re at work, be all-in at work. When you’re done, be done. When you’re done, be with your spouse, your kids, your dog, your gym buddies; whoever is in your life. When that work/personal line becomes too blurry, you will find yourself worrying about work when you’re not working and worrying about family and friends when you are working. Draw reasonable lines that work in your life and your situation. The beauty of being independent is that you can draw your own lines!

Being an independent sales rep can be incredibly rewarding  – both personally and professionally. But making the move does require forethought and planning so you don’t fall into a common trip. Good luck! for becoming the person you really want to be, an independent sales rep.

 

Does working with Independent Sales Reps Create an Ethical Delimma?

I was speaking recently to a company that is considering moving to an independent sales reps force from a salaried w-2 sales force. “I want to ensure that we don’t compromise our high sales standards nor incentivize the independent sales reps to wander into ethical territory that is inappropriate or just wrong,” the company representative said to me.
“So, your concern is that your independent sales reps team may not share the high ethical standards that you’ve created at your company and with your current sales team,” I responded.
“Yes, I suppose that’s it,” she said.
Wow. The notion that an independent sales reps force is somehow ‘less ethical’ than a traditional sales force…wow. I can’t even really wrap my head around that. But just for grins, let’s take that notion apart. Maybe there are more companies that share this misconception. So let’s get this on the record once and for all.
In general, there are two broad categories of Independent Sales Reps:

1) Relatively new/inexperienced independent sales reps who are just building a pipeline
and
2) Experienced and Successful  Independent Sales Reps
Working with new/inexperienced anybody is a little bit of a crap shoot. Everybody starts there; nobody wants to be there for very long. With independent sales, reps CAN’T be in that stage very long…because they aren’t making any money at that stage. If they don’t quickly learn so they can move to the ‘experienced’ category, then they just can’t last.

In any industry. If you hire from category #1, there are few certainties about the outcomes. With independent sales, the certainty is that the rep is either highly motivated to get out of that stage, or he’s going to fail. And the outcome won’t take long to show itself.
Working with #2 is a whole different story. If the independent sales reps that you contract with are currently serving other companies and doing well, then you know that:
1) He/She is self-motivated
2) He/She is a great time manager
3) He/She is making enough money to support himself/herself on commissions only
4) He/She is able to see a way to make money with your product too
The successful independent sales rep knows that spending energy (in his work life) on anything other than directly or indirectly making money is just a silly waste of time. Trying to motivate an Independent sales rep to fill out 3 different versions of the same paperwork is a great example. He’s probably just not going to do it. He’ll find a new product to represent before he’ll spend much time on non-efficient processes. He needs to sell to eat. The correlation is direct and clear. There is no noise or artifact that confuses the issue. The successful independent sales rep needs to sell a bunch of stuff. Everyday. All. The. Time.
The salaried sales rep generally sees his primary job as fulfilling the needs of his management. He wants to be a great employee and get a great review. That may or may not be the same as ‘sell a bunch of stuff’.
So if the independent sales reps want to sell stuff and the salaried sales rep wants to make his management happy (and so much the better if that includes selling a bunch of stuff)…how can it possibly be an ethical dilemma? One group is motivated to help the company make more money, so they can make more commission. The other group is motivated to help the company by doing whatever management said to do.
Independent sales reps make no money if they don’t close the sale. But sometimes salaried representatives make money for other reasons; for calling on more prospects, going to more trade shows, even for using their whole expense account for prospect lunches and dinners. So who exactly is really more likely to ‘game’ the system?
Where’s the ethical dilemma or compromised ethical position with Independent Sales Reps?
Here’s the truth; there isn’t one.
There are, unfortunately, unethical people in all industries and walks-of-life. Sales – independent or salaried – certainly has its share. But the notion of ethics being tied to one ideology or the other is like saying, “Those Ohioans; they can be an unethical crowd. Better off sticking with Iowans.” Really? No. That’s just silly. I can think of more adjectives, but we’ll just stick with ‘silly’ for now.