Neil Foss is an experienced sales agent. In this exclusive article he shares what he’s considering when looking at new sales opportunities. This is real world advice for sales agents that are searching for new companies to sell for.  

It’s not all about the sales, never forget the marketing.

When looking at new opportunities I always look for detailed info on where the leads/enquiries are coming from. If they want me to cold call and offer no support I pass.
Leads/enquiries are our lifeblood. I’ve rarely met a salesperson who liked generating business from any form of cold calling. Look for companies that generate leads from advertising, marketing or buying in info. Companies often forget that finding customers is the most difficult part. Without people to visit or sell to the best salesperson in the world can’t earn any money.

So make sure you thoroughly discuss how these prospects are going to be generated. Does the company advertise or undertake other marketing activities? If they think their self employed sales force will generate prospects as well they are usually planning to fail. A good company will undertake activity and have a budget for it.

Sometimes they may plan to do some marketing or assist with finding prospects. It is important to discuss this in more detail. Make sure you have defined what your role will be and what they are proposing to supply for you. Sometimes a company may say they will pass on enquiries in your area. This is a very difficult proposal to quantify. If they are a startup or relatively new company there may not be very many enquiries in your area to pass on to you so you will really be doing all the prospecting yourself.

If they have a website make sure you have exhaustively looked at all the pages to see how well set up the website is and whether it is likely to capture visitors and turn them into enquiries for the goods or services offered. Always Google the company and try some relevant search terms to see if they come up in the results.
Some companies may offer stands at exhibitions or trade shows. You need to make sure they are taking responsibility for booking and paying for this and supplying stands and all literature etc. This type of marketing can get expensive and if you are expected to take responsibility for any part of it you need to think whether you are willing to put your own money into this. If they expect you to do this it really isn’t a sales job it is a business opportunity and you should make sure all aspects of the contract between you reflect this ie higher commission rates.

In my personal experience many companies in startup and early days think they have a service or product that is so good people will just come running to buy from them. This never happens and the expectation that it will exposes their naïveté and lack of sales/marketing knowledge. Every product and service ever brought to market has needed marketing and selling.

I hope this article helps others sort the wheat from the chaff and avoid companies that put no effort into thinking about where the prospects come from and appoint salespeople and then sit back in the expectation they will generate all prospects as well as sell to them. I have often said to such people if I am expected to do all this why do I need you.
Never sell yourself short. Make sure you have covered the marketing before agreeing to sell.

Neil Foss