Considerations before starting a collaboration with sales agents
Reviewing our previous entries, perhaps someone may think that sales agents are the professionals who will solve all the ills and shortcomings of your company. Make no mistake, sales agents will never fix your internal problems or compensate for a poor commercial strategy. Instead, sales agents tend to expose and most probably multiply your current problems.
Sales agents are just that: non-salaried intermediaries that sell the products or services of your company. No more no less. They´ll require your commercial support, and more importantly, they need you to supply their clients on the terms agreed. Sales agents are not a consultancy firm advising their Principals on how to do their work. They simply will not take on a responsibility for which they are not paid for, and that is assuming that they have the knowledge to do it.
Trying to sell more through sales agents as a way to mask certain internal situations is starting a trip that will lead nowhere with negative consequences.
If you are thinking what we mean by negative consequences let us give you an example. We have had experiences with companies that did so badly in so many aspects (product adaptation, delivery times, resolution of incidents, etc.) and reacted so late, that in a matter of weeks their whole network of sales agents had vanished.
In one of those cases it took the company several months to create that network. However, such was the discredit generated by that Principal when supplying the first important orders that some of their agents stopped selling their products completely and even threatened the company to sue them due to the discomfort it had generated with their clients. No need to do it wrong with all of the agents; if they know who is within the networks the word spreads very quickly. You can now image what chances they´ll have to sell in that market in the near future.
In brief this is what you should be aiming at:
Even without getting to these extreme cases, your company should try to avoid or at least alleviate problems that you are aware of upfront, well before letting any sales agent sell your offer. Solving this issue will most probably delay your project to collaborate with sales agents, but it will definitely give your company a better chance of success in the future, rather than putting urgent patches along the way later on.