Broadly speaking there are 2 types of sales agents: ‘selling’ agents, and ‘introducer’ agents. Both are ‘sales’ agents, and will help you achieve the same ultimate outcome of selling to new customers on a commission-only basis. It’s the level of involvement that differs.
This is most people’s typical expectation of a sales agent. A ‘selling’ sales agent goes out to customers, makes the sale, and actually delivers an order to you for fulfilment.
This level of service demands a ‘normal or full’ level of commission.
This type of sales agent makes introductions to new customers, and then leaves the sales process at some point prior to closure.
At the most basic, introducer agents will merely identify a potential requirement, and then notify you. You then need to motivate your in-house sales resource to make introductions and go through the entire sales process all the way to closure.
At the more typical level, the introducer agent will identify the opportunity, explain the product and its broad features and benefits to the customer, gain an indication of definite interest, and then effect a personalised introduction between the potential customer and your in-house sales resource.
This lower level of selling normally commands a lesser commission. How much lower depends on how far through the process the agent takes things and therefore your costs in seeing it through to conversion. It is typically around half of the full commission rate.
Under what circumstances to consider offering an introducer opportunity?:
- Long sales gestation periods / complex buying structures
- Many sales agents are not well equipped to persist with discussions and negotiations over an extended period, and go through complex and/or formal and/or multiple stage selling processes.
- Poor fit with other elements of portfolio
- Consider a scenario where an agent may be selling toys to toy shops, but identifies a need for business utilities such as telecoms in his customers. He may want to take advantage of this opportunity, but doesn’t want to have to learn all about telecoms, or blur his image as a specialist in toy sales. An introducer opportunity for a telecoms provider might be just what he needs, and he will be happy to accept the lower commission rate as it takes very little of his time to make the introduction.
- Technical and/or complex products / services
- Many sales agents represent multiple principals, and so you can imagine how difficult it would be to become expert in the entire product/service ranges of several companies if they are highly complex or technical. Again, where the agent perceives an opportunity within his customer base, but wants to avoid having to become a technical expert in a new area, he may prefer the introducer option.
In some situations, you can consider offering 2 separate opportunities to agents to suit their style of operating: to become either a ‘selling’ agent or an ‘introducer’ agent. (This would usually necessitate two different commission rates.)
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