Freelance sales reps offer SMEs and start-ups all the benefits of outsourcing plus the experience and sales skills of a professional seller.
Learn what they do, why businesses partner with them, and how to find and work with the best freelance sales agents. Then decide if selling via commission only freelancers is right for your business.
Freelance sales professionals that work on a commission only basis have many titles. They are also called freelance sales agents, freelance sales consultants, or freelance representatives. In the USA they are often called manufacturers representatives, while in Europe the term commercial agent is commonly used.
Whatever title they have, they all work in a similar way. They are freelancers offering an outsourced sales service on a commission basis for start-ups and SMEs looking to increase sales.
What is a Freelance Sales Representative?
Freelance sales reps normally work on a commission basis. The majority are paid a commission for the sales closed. Some SMEs pay freelance sellers to take prospects to an agreed stage of the sales process, e,g, qualify as a lead, ready for a survey or quote, or to receive a presentation.
In a small number of industries, a small retainer or up-front commission is paid to freelance sales reps, usually due to sector specific conditions such as extremely long sales cycles or lengthy periods before a first payment is received from the buyer.
Freelance sales reps are independent sales professionals who are self-employed and not employees of the businesses they sell for.
Freelance sales representatives are usually called “sales agents”. A sales agent can be a freelancer but can also include SMEs that add other companies’ products to their own to create additional income streams in a market they know well.
Why businesses work with freelance sales reps and consultants
As the UKs No1 online portal connecting freelance sales consultants and businesses, we have asked companies why they are looking for freelance sales agents and representatives rather than employed sales reps.
The main reason they come back with are:
- Freelance sellers offer a much lower risk for an SME than an employed sales rep.
- Commission only sales reps require substantially lower initial cost investment.
- Freelance sales reps often have sales experience in specific markets or sectors.
- They may have a ready-made audience of contacts and decision makers.
- Freelance reps are already proven successful sellers as they rely on results to earn a living.
The above, and many more benefits gained from working with freelance sales representatives are why the number of SMEs and start-up companies outsourcing sales to independent agents is growing every month in the UK.
Selecting the best freelance sales representative for your company
A common mistake among companies looking for freelance sales reps is to accept the first candidate that applies without investigating their suitability or waiting for other applications and comparing the attributes of each freelancer.
This is because companies are happy to find someone to sell for them on a commission only basis as a freelancer and they jump straight in and take a gamble on being successful.
Think about that, if you were looking for an accountant, marketer, or other business service, you would spend time assessing their attributes and ask for more information to allow you to make the best selection. A freelance sales representative should be chosen in the same way as any other freelance service provider.
Companies that are successful with freelance sales agents know the kind of candidates they want and invest time in selecting the applicant that meets their criteria.
Good characteristics to look for in a commission-only freelance sales rep include
Proven track record as a successful freelance sales consultant.
Sales professionals applying for your freelance sales opportunity should be able to present evidence of a solid background in either a freelance sales role or an employed sales position relevant to your advertised role.
Specialised in a specific industry or market
The best freelance sales reps often specialise in a specific industry, sector, or marketplace. Their focus on a specific set of customers related to your sales needs enhances their actions, and their results.
Already selling non-competing products to your target market
Freelance sales reps and SMEs acting as agents and already selling non-competing products to your target markets have a proven pathway to get your sales offers in front of decision makers. This gives them, and you, a big advantage.
We also recommend going through our thorough guide on how to find the best freelance sales agents and reps for you company.
How to get a freelance sales rep to work successfully for your company
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they are a freelance sales rep they will not benefit from, and appreciate, support and investment. The increase in results will give you a good return on any cost of the support you offer.
To receive applications from the very best freelance sales people you need to make your opportunity attractive. What makes commission only sales agent opportunities attractive:
- A high commission that motivates freelance sales agents to invest their sales time on your products.
- Providing qualified sales leads to maximise the effectiveness of the freelance agent’s selling time.
- Sales support to make the sales process easy and smooth for the agent and the customer.
- Product training and regular updates on any changes or developments.
- Regular contact with the freelance sales rep.
The more benefits you can offer to freelance sales reps to quickly get them earning a good income from sales for your business, the better the quality of applicants you can expect.
Commission & Freelance Sales Reps
Commission levels attract commission based agents to your sales opportunity, motivates them to invest time into sales of your products, and keeps them with you in a long term, profitable sales relationship.
Don’t think of commission in terms of: What amount can I get away with offering?
See it as: How much can I invest in the generation of new sales and ongoing repeat business?
Providing qualified leads
When a freelance sales representative is provided with sales leads they spend more time on the latter parts of the sales process and less time on prospecting and cold calling.
The perfect combination of a freelance sales rep and qualified leads will give you the best results, so spend some time considering the budget per sale you can invest in both good leads that convert and sales commission that motivates.
Give your sales reps support and make the sales process smooth and easy for them and the customers.
Will freelance sales reps get questions from clients they may not be able to answer?
Give them a point of contact on your team. This means they can get answers quickly and not have to delay the sales process.
How will freelance sellers present your products, solutions, and service benefits, to potential customers?
Help your freelancers give a good presentation of the benefits of becoming a customer with your business by working with them. They are the expert on selling, you are the authority on your products or services, combine your knowledge and help create a stunning sales presentation.
There are many new tools that make good use of modern technology: Online presentations, videos, diagrams, and information that you can give agents access to. Brochures both soft and hard copy, samples, models, case studies, facts and figures, can all be used by agents to communicate an exciting and persuasive message to the buyers.
Make your sales agent opportunity attractive to freelancers by having a ready-made product knowledge training program. The more complex your sales offers the more important this is.
Agents want to start selling confidently as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what you want them to do, so help them learn what they need to know quickly.
Choose the medium for the training: Online, hard copy, or face to face. Create the content: Facts and features, benefits for end users and resellers or retailers if appropriate. And include a process for keeping agents informed of any ongoing information on changes, developments, or feedback.
Reporting and expectations
Set up a meeting or reporting schedule where you can discus results and actions with the freelance sales representatives.
At the start of your relationship, agree the schedule and the format for the discussion. This will keep the relationship on track and help to get the best for the investment made in the sales partnership by you and the freelance sales rep.
Are freelance sales representatives right for your business?
Now you know what a freelance sales rep is and does, how they work with businesses, and how companies should work with them to achieve sales success, you can discover if sales agents are right for your business.
You will have seen from the above that freelance sales representatives are not a cheap alternative compared to employed sales teams. What the freelance option offers is a more sales results focused investment of your budget.
Instead of paying a salary, providing a car, laptop, phone etc. all upfront and then waiting to see if results appear, your main spend will be on commission for orders after they have been closed.
There will be other, smaller costs, such as support, leads, and some admin resources, but these would probably be higher with employed sales people as they would include payroll, HR, and company benefits.
If you would like to discover if we think freelance sales representatives will be a good fit for your company, products and services, and marketplace, you can contact us via the contact page and we will give you our informed opinion on your potential for success.