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Sales Representative: Role and Importance in Business Growth


In the United States, only 1% of small businesses resort to sales representatives*. Yet, they can turn out to be real business boosters in B2B commerce, by selling your products or services (in your name) to B2B buyers. Whether it is to increase market visibility, get new customers or give your B2B sales a boost, sales representatives can bring significant added value to your business, at a low price.


What is a sales agent?

Sales agents are not to be mistaken with employees. Sales agents are representatives who are responsible for promoting and selling products or services on behalf of a company. They may work on a commission basis or as a salaried employee.

Sales agents can be an important asset for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) because they can help to increase revenue and expand the customer base. They can also provide valuable market intelligence and feedback to the company. Sales agents are often more familiar with local market conditions and customer needs, which can be beneficial for SMBs looking to expand in a specific area. Additionally, sales agents are known for their ability to establish relationships with customers, which can be critical for building long-term business success.

A sales agent can work alone, recruit staff, or work in a team with other agents. As an independent, he generally works for several client companies at the same time and can operate in specific markets, across all sectors (food and beverage, construction, textiles, medical, etc.). He also possesses essential qualities for performing his assigned tasks, such as determination, self-confidence, persuasiveness, listening, eloquence, interpersonal skills, and charisma.

What are the missions of a sales agent?


Searching for new customers (retail stores, independent businesses, clubs, etc.) after expanding into a new geographical area. This enables the sales agent to identify opportunities for the principal company in various business sectors.

Market research

Identifying a new industry, conquering a new market, and analyzing the competition are tasks that require a deep understanding of commercial law and the codes governing the agent profession to accurately assess the needs of potential clients and market trends.

Promoting and representing the company

Selling products and services, and signing contracts on behalf of the principal company. The sales agent uses their expertise and network to negotiate the best terms, highlighting the importance of their role in the sales cycle and the business development of the company.

Negotiation and sales

Selling products and services and signing contracts on behalf of the client company.

Customer relationship management

Tracking orders and payments, managing returns and potential replacements, building and maintaining customer loyalty, introducing new collections to customers, etc. These tasks emphasize the customer service aspect of commercial activity, where the agent plays a key role in ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining a high-quality relationship with the company's clientele.

Overall, their mission is to help the company to increase revenue and expand the customer base, while at the same time representing the company in the best possible way to potential customers.

The benefits of hiring a sales agent: an external sales force

Sales agents can provide valuable support and expertise to help small businesses grow and succeed.

Here is how sales representatives benefit small businesses:

  • Increased revenue: Sales agents can help to increase revenue by promoting and selling products or services to new and existing customers.
  • Expanded customer base: Sales agents can help expand the customer base by identifying new potential customers and building relationships with existing ones.
  • Market intelligence: Sales agents can provide valuable market intelligence by gathering information about customer needs, market conditions, and competition.
  • Increased productivity: Sales agents can help increase productivity by handling sales-related tasks, allowing business owners to focus on other aspects of the business.
  • Local market knowledge: Sales agents who are familiar with the local market can be particularly beneficial for small businesses looking to expand in a specific area.
  • Experience and knowledge: Sales representatives bring to the company their knowledge of the market, experience, and skills. They continue to progress these independently. They also provide their expertise and suggestions to enhance the company in its sector.
  • Improved customer service: Sales agents can help improve customer service by addressing customer concerns and building trust and loyalty.
  • Company representative: The agent is the point of contact between customers and the company, which helps to maintain the company's image and adds credibility by being on the field.
  • Cost-effective: Hiring a sales agent can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time salesperson, particularly for small businesses. Their simple and non-restrictive status requires minimal administrative procedures.
  • Results-oriented: With pay based entirely on deals brought in by the agent, the agent is motivated to generate results, which aligns with the company's interests.
  • Flexibility: Sales agents can be hired on a commission basis, which allows small businesses to pay only for the results they get, and also helps to reduce the cost of hiring a full-time employee.
  • Non compete: Adding a non-compete clause in the contract ensures that the agent does not work for a company in the same market.

Choosing the right distribution methods for your brand is at the heart of your company's sales strategy. Using a sales agent is an ideal way to increase sales in a specific geographic area with minimal start-up costs. They are essential in reaching new customers and maintaining relationships with existing ones.

If you are already working with one or more sales agents but feel that their potential is not being fully utilized for your business, now you know how to maximize their benefits!

benefits sales agent

Which companies can benefit from the services of a sales agent?

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will find a sales agent particularly useful, including:

  • Young companies looking to expand and gain visibility in the market, who will benefit from the sales agent's customer base and network
  • Established companies looking to expand into new geographic areas or markets or launch new products to drive growth
  • Seasonal businesses whose sales activity is limited to certain times of the year and are seeking specialized sales assistance.

The sales agent is particularly well-suited for small businesses, which are more susceptible to fluctuations in activity than medium-sized enterprises and have more difficulty absorbing fixed costs. Using a sales agent allows them to minimize costs and risks.

How to recruit a sales agent?

There are several ways to recruit a sales agent, including:

  1. Job postings: Posting a job listing on online job boards, social media, or professional associations' websites can help attract qualified candidates.
  2. Referrals: Asking current employees, business partners, or other industry contacts for referrals can be a great way to find a qualified sales agent.
  3. Networking events: Attending networking events or industry conferences can help connect small businesses with potential sales agents.
  4. Headhunting: A headhunting agency specializes in recruiting high-level sales professionals and can help identify and attract top talent.
  5. Employee referral program: Employee referral program rewards current employees for referring successful candidates. It can be a good way to attract the right person for the role.
  6. Social Media: Using social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can be a great way to find and attract sales agents.

To determine if a sales agent is the right fit for your business, they should meet the profile you have established. Elements such as industry sector, market knowledge, work location(s), qualifications, goals for your company, etc.

What does the future hold for sales agents?

The future of sales agents in the B2B commerce sector may be impacted by a number of factors, including technology, changing business strategies, and shifts in the economy. Still, with the rise of digital technologies, the need for sales agents with digital marketing and e-commerce skills may increase. These allow sales agents to facilitate certain tasks such as prospecting, product catalog, visibility and communication, and improve customer relationships. Additionally, some B2B companies may have more complex sales processes that require specialized knowledge and skills, which may increase the need for sales agents.

Lastly, in growing markets, companies may need to expand their sales force to keep up with demand. There is likely to be a shift towards more strategic and consultative roles for sales agents in the B2B commerce sector, with an emphasis on digital skills, customer understanding, and flexibility.

Although B2B e-commerce platforms, such as Erplain's B2B Store, handle key operations such as order taking, tracking or customizing customer content, they will not replace the human touch, the personal relationship and the ability of sales agents to close complex deals, or bring new customers. Therefore, sales agents can still play an important role in the B2B sales process, even with the presence of B2B e-commerce platforms. They certainly can change the way sales agents work, but they also can enhance their performance by providing them with new tools, new channels and new data. Sales agents will have to adapt and adopt new skills to remain relevant in the digital age.

What are the risks of hiring a sales agent?

It's important to note that using a sales agent comes with its own set of risks, particularly for small businesses. By hiring a sales agent, a small company may take on several financial risks, including:

  1. Financial difficulties: An agent's rapid progression may lead to financial difficulties for the small company, such as an inability to absorb the costs associated with the agent's success.
  2. Strict termination costs: If the sales agent does not perform as expected or if the company needs to terminate the agent's contract, it may be liable for strict termination costs such as commission payments for a certain period of time.
  3. Uncertainty of revenue: There is no guarantee that the sales agent will be able to generate enough revenue to cover the costs of the agent and make a profit for the company.
  4. Risk of not getting expected outcome: The sales agent may not be able to generate the expected outcome for the company, which may lead to financial losses.

Other risks include:

  • Deprioritization: The fact that an agent manages multiple brands means that they may prioritize the sale of more profitable brands at the expense of another.
  • Lack of control over the brand image and product knowledge: The presentation, history of the brand, and product technologies may not be accurately communicated to customers.

Small companies should thoroughly evaluate the potential costs and benefits of hiring a sales agent and should have a clear, well-defined plan for how they will manage the risks associated with this decision. They should also be careful when writing the contract.

In short, a sales agent helps you grow your brand and competitiveness quickly, ensuring the prosperity of your business. With Erplain, get the revenue generated by your sales agent in real time, essential data for calculating their sales commissions!

Try Erplain for free!

Frequently Asked Questions about Sales Representatives:

How can a sales representative contribute to expanding my business? 

A sales representative plays a crucial role in the development and expansion of your business. Operating independently, they have the flexibility to act as intermediaries and sell your products or services on your behalf. By partnering with a representative, you leverage their network and client portfolio, expanding your market visibility and attracting new customers. Their expertise in negotiation, sales, and customer relationship management enhances the value of your business offerings, all with minimal upfront investment and a cost structure tied to successful sales.

What are the key responsibilities of a sales representative? 

The responsibilities of a sales representative are varied and tailored to the specific needs of your business. They include prospecting to uncover commercial opportunities across various sectors, conducting market research to identify new potential markets and analyze competition, as well as negotiating and closing sales on behalf of the principal company. The representative also manages customer relationships, including order tracking, payments, and client retention. These responsibilities underscore the representative's pivotal role in the sales cycle and business development, serving as both an advisor and a front-line ambassador for the company.

What are the advantages of hiring a sales representative for a small or medium-sized business (SMB)? 

Hiring a sales representative offers many advantages for SMBs. Notably, it reduces operational costs as the business is not burdened with salary expenses, or overhead costs associated with a traditional employee. A commission-based compensation structure incentivizes the representative to generate positive results. The independent status of the representative ensures flexibility and adaptability to fluctuations in business activity, minimizing administrative tasks and personnel management constraints. Their commercial expertise, extensive network, and market knowledge directly contribute to expanding clientele and maximizing profits, thereby enhancing the competitiveness and prosperity of the business in its market.

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