The first and most important requirement for success as a sales agent is some sales experience. It is very difficult trying to cope with the inevitable mistakes made whilst learning to sell and, at the same time, trying to earn a living purely on how much you can sell.
Lots of companies use inexperienced people as employed salespeople on the basis that they have demonstrated some potential, they can train them into their own sales methods and they come relatively cheaply. The benefit to the inexperienced salesperson is that they make their mistakes and learn their craft at someone else’s expense.
Self discipline, it’s your time and money.
Self discipline is an essential quality. It is easy to find an excuse for not going out to call on prospective customers and spend time at home on various administrative jobs. That way eventually spells disaster.
Be prepared to.
- maximise your time with customers
- spends some spare time on administration
- be self motivating
- not turn colds into flu
- set your own targets
Persistence and tenacity are other requirements. The going will get hard at times, especially while you are building the agency up. The ability to fight back after a major set-back is a necessary requirement for a sales agent. Set-backs come in varying ways, the failure of a principal, the loss of a large order or customer. When this happens you do not have the luxury of blaming others and still taking home a salary. You have to get out there and replace that lost income, with a smile on your face.
Most setbacks come in the early stages of your career as a sales agent. Experience teaches you how to avoid the most common causes of disappointments but they will always be there.
Doing it your way.
To some people it comes as a culture shock not to have colleagues around them to discuss matters regarding daily business life. To a certain extent you will have to become a loner but, as will be shown later, it is not a completely lonely life.
Making decisions alone will become second nature to you. You will make good and bad decisions. Luckily those decisions are yours and you can only blame yourself if it is a bad decision.
Make a decision before the money runs out.
The lack of initial financial pressure is very helpful in the first stages of becoming a sales agent. The need to earn and earn extremely quickly can cause problems in the initial period. If you are relying on redundancy money or other finance to tide you over the lean first months of setting up an agency, make the decision before the finance is exhausted.
Everybody has seen the results of salespeople that have to get the order there and then. They look desperate and it shows. The sales agent must have time to build customer confidence in him and the several product ranges he sells. This route usually leads to greater sales than can be achieved by a company salesperson who is just offering one product range.
Excerpted from the book: ‘How To Be A Freelance Sales Agent’. by Terry James. Additional content and editing by Paul Brown, MD of AgentBase.