Just like hiring a full-time sales representative, you need to advertise, screen and interview sales agents. The following is a list of questions you can ask an independent sales agent in an interview:
1. Are you incorporated, a partnership or a sole proprietorship?
2. Can you outline your growth history for me?
3. Do you develop an annual sales plan and budget? If yes, what are your plans for[current year]?
4. What are your business goals for the next year, five years, ten years?
5. Can you outline the geographical territory or market you cover?
6. Will you be willing to sell outside your territory? If yes, how far outside?
7. How active is management in the sales process?
8. Can you give me a list of the manufacturers/companies you represent? Can you tell me why you feel their lines are compatible with ours?
9. Who are your major accounts and how do you cover these key accounts?
10. Have you segmented/classified your territory by accounts? If yes, can you outline how you went about this exercise?
11. How do you monitor sales performance?
12. Are there any conditions/circumstances under which you would expect your principals to participate in the production/distribution costs of these mailings?
13. Do you distribute your own catalogue? If yes, is it available in print, online or in both versions?
14. What is your policy regarding visits by principals or factory personnel?
15. Can you outline how your principals compensate you?
16. Have your other principals required you to sign an agency contract? If yes, what do those contracts cover?
17. Have you ever been involved in a dispute with any of your present or past principals? If yes, please elaborate.
About the Author:
The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) is a national organization of 30000 sales and marketing professionals. Members receive significant savings on travel, business costs and more. The CPSA also offers exclusive sales training and certification programs.
Note: An independent or manufacturer’s sales agent is an individual who is either a sole proprietor, partner or incorporated entity working in an exclusive geographically designated territory or a particular market/customer segment, representing one or more principals. (The term principal is used to describe the manufacturer or supplier of goods or services sold by the sales agent).
An agent may represent one or several non-competitive lines. The agent is remunerated primarily on a commission-only basis for goods shipped or billed from the principal represented. Agents control their own time and level of sales effort. The responsibilities and obligations between the agent and principal or company are usually outlined in a written contract between the parties.