Today we interview Mark Gibson, a veteran Independent Disaster Restoration/Environmental Services Sales Rep working within the janitorial and sanitation markets, selling equipment and chemicals to the end user.
Mark has kindly agreed to be interviewed in order to help further CommissionCrowd's mission of uniting the independent sales industry by giving companies and sales professionals the tools and knowledge to help you to better understand and work within our industry successfully.
Hi Mark, where did your successful career as an independent sales representative begin?
My career as an independent sales rep began just over four years ago with a company named B-Air in January of 2012.
What made you decide to become an independent sales agent?
In truth, my venture into the independent sales industry wasn't so much of a calculated decision as it was thrust upon me.
I had been out of work for a few months when B-Air showed an interest in working together. However, they explained to me that they were looking to form working relationships with independent salespeople and I had never worked that way before so I was initially a little leery.
In truth, although it's not the typical way most self-employed sales reps begin their independent careers, it wasn’t the best time for me to be too picky so I decided to give it a shot.
What's your proudest achievement in sales to date?
This may or may not be the answer you’re looking for, but it’s the fact that I don't regard myself as your typical salesperson.
If you had told me many years ago that I'd end up in sales, I would have laughed in your face. I hated salespeople. They always seemed so pushy and I'm just not the pushy type.
It wasn't until I became involved in the profession that I realized you don't have to be like that. In fact, you're much more successful when you're not. The pushy ones may make a lot of first time sales, but you can bet they don't have many repeat customers.
So I would sum up by saying that I'm most proud of finding success in a career I never thought I would end up working in.
Tell us a little bit about the industry you work in?
I specialise in the disaster restoration field and represent the companies that restore your home or business if you’ve experienced water and/or fire damage.
The most satisfying part of my job is being able to help so many people who are experiencing a particularly difficult time in their lives. The companies I work with - If they do their job right - become heroes to many of our customers.
What sets an independent sales representative apart from an employee?
It's simple really, we’re much more motivated. If I don’t sell, I don’t eat. Period.
What qualities do you feel a good sales representative must possess in order to be successful?
You need to be 100% committed and possess the ability to set up and keep relationships with buyers. If you don’t have the passion for the market or the product, chances are you won’t succeed in the long term.
I don’t consider myself a risk taker, but you have to be willing to take the first step to becoming self-employed and have belief in yourself to be successful. It's truly rewarding.
What should companies understand about the way independent sales agents work before seeking out working partnerships?
They need to understand that relationships with independent reps are going to work differently than with employees.
They have to be okay with giving up control and need to understand that they must trust their reps to do their job without constant supervision and paperwork.
What makes a sales opportunity attractive to self-employed sales reps?
Having an excellent relationship with the company we’re selling for. We need to feel comfortable with them and that we can really trust them. Negative feelings will affect our sales of their product, consciously or unconsciously.
What are the main benefits for companies wishing to work with independent reps?
Firstly, freelance sales representatives do not negatively affect the bottom line. A company can take on a small army of agents for nearly no cost to itself.
If a rep doesn’t sell, it’s no skin off their nose. When they do, it’s more profitable for the company than if an in-house sales rep had made the sale. It all comes down to how much control the company is willing to give up.
What advice would you give to sales professionals considering becoming self-employed?
Think long and hard before deciding whether self-employment is for you. It’s not for everyone.
It shouldn’t be considered a holdover job while you’re looking for something better. If you’re starting cold, it might take a few months before you make your first sale. A lot can depend on the company(ies) you end up repping for; their place in the market and the tools they provide to help you make sales.
It’s true that you pick when you want to work, but despite the greater financial reward, most of the time you’ll end up working longer hours on your own than being an employee.
What Can We Learn From Mark's Experience As An Independent Sales Rep?
While Mark's independent sales career may not have started down the typical route that many sales agents with a desire to break away from the constraints of employment take, we can learn a lot from his experiences.
Self-employment certainly isn't for everyone and while the rewards far exceed the challenges, many factors should be considered before going it alone.
In the same respect, companies who are wishing to find and work with self-employed sales agents/representatives should know that there are many factors that will determine if you will be able to build and maintain successful long-term working partnerships with this type of sales professional.
We've included a link to our most popular blog post (below) which will give you a much greater understanding of what it takes to forge successful working partnerships.
If you are a sales agent and are considering becoming self-employed, you'll find this article from our blog very useful: How To Become A Successful Freelance (Self-Employed) Sales Agent
Companies who are considering working with independent sales reps for the first time should read this article: 10 Things To Understand When Working With Independent Sales Reps