How to manage your relationship with sales agents from your initial contact

As those of you who already have experience in this matter will know, how to first approach a sales agent it is no easy task.

Rather it is a stressful, sometimes ungrateful move that requires a high knowledge of your product or service, in addition to much poise and character.

However, there are a series of steps, strategies and ways of acting that carried out from the beginning i.e. from the first call to the agent to introduce ourselves, can help to start your business relationship with the right foot:

1. Be proactive: contact the commercial agent as soon as you are provided with the agent´s contact details. Quickly engage the agent and boost the exchange of information with him. It is better to be taken as someone annoying rather than giving being slow. Make the agent understand that your company acts “today”; and try not to leave things for “mañana”. Comply with the date of your commitments.

2. Professionalism and seriousness: sympathy and kindness are taken for granted by the agent. However, this a money game, not a NGO´s meeting. Be sure to demonstrate the agent that you know your product or service perfectly and make him understand that a good commercial is needed to sell it.
Start your working relationship with good tone and focusing on your goals and showing that you represent a winning company without complexes.

3. Offer the agent as much sales material as possible: catalogs, price lists, samples and in general any communication and promotional element that helps him to carry out his work. Keep in mind that having all this in the “wrong” language is not enough. Don´t expect your clients to speak your language, even if it´s English.
In time business cards from your company personalized with the agent’s details will be welcomed. Do your best to make him feel part of the company.

4. Be understandable at the beginning: the first agents with whom you collaborate will face an important challenge. Not only will they have to sell your product or service, but they will have to make your company known in a saturated market. Let yourself be guided and advised, they want the same thing you do: make money.

5. Adapt to the market …: most likely your product or service will have to be modified in some aspect to be sold in your new market. Although you know your product perfectly, you have been selling it for twenty years and you know your home market like the back of your hand, the reality is that if you want to get your first order in a new market you will have to adapt (or the market will simply kick you out).

6. … and take the opportunity to meet the agent: soak up all the information that the agent gives you and ask him for as much information as you can and they are willing to share. Within reason and always hand in hand with the agent, visit potential customers, especially in the first moments. You will give a good image in the market, you will support your agent (whom you will be able to evaluate) and you will know the market first hand. Go see it for yourself, don´t wait for your agent to tell you.

Being off to a good start in your partnership with an agent is most important. It sets you both on the right track and fixes the tone of your interactions with someone with whom you will have to work closely in the near future.

Any experiences, good or bad, that you´d like to share?