CommissionCrowd Blog - The Home Of Independent Self-Employed Sales
CommissionCrowd Blog - The Home Of Independent Self-Employed Sales

Welcome to CommissionCrowd's blog: Featuring interesting Independent sales related articles, member interviews, news, tips and featured commission-only sales opportunities.

Ryan Mattock
Author

Co-Founder of CommissionCrowd... Let's get disruptive!

Share


How to Craft The Perfect Job Opportunity For Self-Employed Sales Agents

Ryan MattockRyan Mattock

How to craft freelance sales jobs
This guide will enable you to structure your company’s self-employed job opportunity in CommissionCrowd so that it appeals to suitable self-employed sales agents in your industry.

We recently surveyed a number of self-employed sales agents on our database and asked them to share with us the ten most important factors (aside from product type) that self-employed sales agents consider before deciding which companies and opportunities to pursue.

Here are those results:

  1. Honesty & Integrity
  2. Communication
  3. Management Attitude
  4. Reputation
  5. Potential Earnings
  6. Attitude Towards Self-Employed Sales Reps
  7. Company Marketing Efforts & Samples Provided
  8. Professionalism
  9. Payment Terms
  10. Customer Service

If you missed the video presentation you can view it again here: Top 10 Factors Sales Agents Consider When Choosing To Work With A New Company

Note: You should only use this as a guide to structuring your job opportunity and please avoid simply using our words to sell your opportunity. You should expand on each point in a way that is personal to your business and demonstrate how each applies specifically to your company.

CommissionCrowd VIP Founding Members Once you have completed your opportunity in your account we’ll happily review it for you and provide feedback.

How To Describe Your Company To Self-Employed Sales Agents

The goal is not just to hire people who need a job, it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. If you hire people to do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears

This is the first real opportunity to start connecting emotionally with potential self-employed sales agents in your industry.

Remember, sales agents can’t sell a product they don’t believe in and will rarely work with a company whose vision they don’t share or identify with.

Bearing in mind that money is simply a by-product of success, you must let prospective sales agents know why you are in business. What is your company's driving factor? What’s your ‘why’?

Example:

Prior to CommissionCrowd we were forward thinking company owners like you. We built and managed a team of self-employed sales agents over the space of two years, yet became increasingly frustrated at how difficult it was to not only find and connect with professional self-employed sales agents, but also the amount of time and hassle that efficiently managing a remote working relationship presented to both parties.

We knew there had to be a better way in which we could not only improve how targeted connections are made between companies and sales agents, but to ensure that managing those remote working relationships are easy, efficient and profitable for both parties.

CommissionCrowd is the solution we would have wanted as company owners and will be a beautifully designed, simple, yet powerful platform that will enable companies and professional commission-only sales agents to connect and manage their working relationships better than ever before.

How To Present Your Self-Employed Job Opportunity To Self-Employed Sales Agents

The job opportunity you present also has to appeal to potential sales agents on a number of levels.

Remember, potential commission earnings makes number 5 on the list under: Honesty & integrity, communication, management attitude and reputation, and your opportunity must reflect all of those points.

That’s not to say that the potential to make great money isn’t vitally important to a rep, but without addressing the first four points, potential sales agents will more than likely not be interested in considering your opportunity in the first place.

You must be able to demonstrate that this is not just an opportunity to make great money, but rather the opportunity to work with a forward thinking company that has strong values and believes in open, transparent working relationships.

Sales reps often tell us that they wish to be treated more like partners in a business, not employees.

Potential sales agents should be able to quickly identify with your company’s core beliefs and that should inspire them to read into your opportunity further.

If you have awards and achievements or an impressive client list, be sure to mention them. Your reputation is an extension of their reputation, which is one of the things that sales agents are always concerned about.

Example:

We value self-employed sales agents as an extension of our organisation and recognise that our extended partners play a vital role in the continued success of our company.

We are now looking for long term partnerships with professional self-employed sales agents that have experience in the pharmaceutical industry and a desire to expand their portfolio.

We are also happy to accept applications from sales agents who currently work with other non-conflicting companies, and would also like to hear from reps with existing lines that could complement our products and services.

Training Your self-employed Sales Agents To Sell Your Products/Services

What form will training will your sales agents need to participate in to best understand your products/services?

CommissionCrowd gives your company the ability to securely store and share important documentation with your sales agents as well as create structured training tasks which will be sent to your new agents automatically.

You should put together training materials in the form of PowerPoints, marketing materials, videos series or even word documents and use CommissionCrowd's training section in-app to create your course.

It is advisable that you run a few practice pitches or role-playing sessions after agents have completed your training and before they begin representing your company and products.

Remember, you shouldn’t need to teach your agents how to actually sell, but rather ensuring they have all of the information they need to be able to understand what it is they will be selling.

Look For Self-Employed Sales Agents With A Compatible Sales Style

It is very important to consider the type of sales agent that will be best suited to speaking to your clients and leads.

Will your independent sales reps need to be able to sell on a consultative basis or will someone trained in the ‘hard sell’ also be suitable?

The level of complexity and length of your products sales cycle will play a part in the type of sales agent that is better suited to working with your company.

The Four Sales Styles:

Relational Sales Agents

Relational sales agents rely on their charisma and building strong interpersonal relationships with their customers in order to close business.

Usually very good at maintaining long-term client relationships as well as bringing in referral business, the relational sales agent can be a real asset to a company.

This type of sales agent will rarely be suited to products which have very short sales cycles and require a slightly harder sell to close the business.

Transactional Sales Agents

Transactional sales people are usually fairly passive sellers.

They are the type of sales agent you may see in various high street retail stores selling clothing or mobile (cell) phones.

The sale usually comes at the point of transaction and very little persuasion is needed to ensure that the purchase is completed.

The primary role of the transactional sales rep is to help the customer find a product they were already prepared to purchase, while ensuring that profits are maximised by up-selling various add-ons or upgrades.

Hard Selling Sales Agents (Closers)

This type of sales rep likes to close business the first time and can become frustrated or even count it as a lost deal if a prospect leaves to think things through.

Rarely taking ‘no’ for an answer, and with prospect nurturing low on the agenda, this type of rep is much more suited to products that have extremely short sales cycle. Think ‘Glengarry Glenross’ – Always Be Closing!

But be warned, although rare, this type of sales style is usually indicative of under-experiences sales reps and you run the risk of your company being misrepresented by taking on hard sellers.

Consultative Sales Agent

Think of the consultative sales rep as a natural all-rounder.

They are relationship builders while at the same time possessing the ability to close business when the time is right.

Consultative sales agents enjoy problem solving and helping their clients to find the best solution to meet their needs.

Pretty much adaptable to all situations, a consultative sales agent can be a real asset to any outsourced sales team.

Does The Sales Agent Have The Experience Required For Your Opportunity?

Will a newly self-employed sales agent with a background in telesales be able to sell a high tech product in a face-to-face meeting with a C-Level executive?

Maybe so, but it is important to set expectations early in order to avoid complications and frustration for both parties at a later date.

Think about your product and target market. Who are the decision makers that your agents will need to sell to and how they will be reached?

Does the sales agent have the technical ability to prepare and carry out a presentation online? Do they need to travel to meet clients but don’t own a car or live near adequate public transport?

If your product is complex and has a very long sales cycle, would a newly self-employed sales agent be able to support themselves financially as they start to work their sales pipeline?

Products with long sales cycles tend to do much better with highly experienced and financially stable sales reps that already work within your industry. Experience is incredibly important, maybe the most important factor in considering your future working partnerships.

Be sure to include testimonials from your happy clients and provide a brief overview of what kinds of products or services they would be selling.

Example:

We are looking for an experienced self-employed sales agent with proven B2B sales ability.

An interest and knowledge in IT solutions is advantageous, however training will be provided. The candidate must be able to provide testimonials from previous customers (LinkedIn testimonials acceptable) and/or employers.

We are a customer focused organisation and require an agent to be able to sell to mid-Level company executives within the hospitality and leisure industry. Applicants must have a passion for consultative selling with a focus on building long term relationships and meeting customers’ needs.

The average sales cycle of our services is around two weeks to a month.

Commission Structure/Payment Terms

There is no definitive answer to how your commission structure should be set.

Every company, opportunity, product and service will be different. Although we can’t tell you what to offer in terms of your opportunity, we can certainly give you some food for thought.

What would you prefer, 50% of everything, or 50% of nothing?

Dragons’ Den

Important: Think about the risk associated with being a self-employed sales agent.

A) Sales agents make an investment in not only taking the time to learn to learn your company’s products/services, but will also need to invest time and money in building their sales pipeline and nurturing potential clients for your company.

B) Your sales agents will always have a cost associated to each lead/potential deal. That might mean phone/internet bills and travel expenses. They are your partners, not your employees and you should always keep this at the forefront of your mind. This might even mean that some agents will expect to be reimbursed in some way for expenses incurred, which can be especially true if working in a territory where your company has had absolutely no presence to date.

Ultimately you should pay your sales agents as much as you can on each deal while still making a profit. Get creative with incentives such as monthly residuals or tiered bonuses.

Above all, be honest and never exaggerate the figures.

Give accurate information and you will find that your sales agents are much happier, and more likely to succeed in the long run.

Telling someone they can make £100k in their first year, if that isn’t really the case, will only make your rep think that either something is wrong with your products/services or that they don’t have the ability to sell it.

This will lead to frustration on both parts and usually a swift parting of ways with no results.

Always Ensure You Pay Your Sales Agent Commissions On Time

It is important to set your payment terms within your contract and stick to them.

Not paying a sales agent on time can lead to conflict and mistrust. Also, don’t make their life a hassle by paying with cheques if they prefer bank transfers.

If you still use cheques be sure they understand and agree to this upfront. Please mention this in your opportunity.

If you haven’t read our interview with the Independent sales rep who was fired for being too successful we recommend you do so before writing this section.

Example:

We offer unlimited commission earnings. Minimum expectations will be to close 1 order a month. Based on our average professional fees of £12.5K per client, expected OTE would be in the region of £22.5K per year. (Note if you’re looking for agents in a specific region ensure you provide the OTE in their currency).

Where Can Your Sales Agents Sell?

Does your opportunity require your sales agents to sell in a specific territory or will they be able to pick/develop their own?

Will they have exclusive rights to that territory or will they be working in the same location as other reps?

Defining and allocating territories can be a difficult task. Not enough business or too many competing agents in a particular area can lead to frustration and lead/prospecting crossover although your sales pipeline within CommissionCrowd should eliminate that problem.

It is important to think about the existing contacts a sales agent may have in a particular area, as well as the level of experience a rep has. Do you want to give a large exclusive area to a sales agent who has limited experience before they prove themselves?

House Accounts

Most reps expect to work hard to earn their commissions and understand that developing new accounts often involves investing their personal time and money.

House accounts are those which are deemed by the company as too important not to manage from their central office and on occasion the rep may also stop receiving commission payments on recurring business as a result.

We highly recommend steering away from house accounts as it's one sure fire way to

Pioneering Lines

Reps are in business to make a profit just like you are, so the results you can expect when you ask a rep to work “for free” probably will be disappointing. Reps who accept a “pioneering” line with no existing commissions can’t afford to take time away from manufacturers who are already paying them commission, so their efforts may be limited to “Oh, by the way, we also have ‘x’ if you need it.” If you need to hire a rep in a territory that has no existing sales, consider offering a monthly “territory development fee” or stipend to help with the costs of territory development in exchange for monthly reports on those pioneering efforts.

Example:

We are looking for a professional self-employed sales agent with existing contacts to cover various major cities within the US and UK (if you know specifics list them). Territories are distributed and allocated based on where agents have existing non-competing lines. For certain territories we are open to offering up to X house accounts for the first six months to help with territory development.

To Conclude

Independent sales agents are a huge asset to companies who wish to outsource their sales function and grow or expand into territories further afield.

When creating a commission-only sales job listing it's important to let potential self-employed sales partners know that you understand that this is a partnership and not a job listing.

The most important message you have to convey is that you are not seeking free or cheap labour nor are you seeking employees. Partnership is the key here and companies must sell themselves to sales agents based on this premise.

Ryan Mattock
Author

Ryan Mattock

Co-Founder of CommissionCrowd... Let's get disruptive!

Comments