Why is it that so few independent sales professionals align themselves with one powerful brand that is willing to collaborate with them on marketing? This is because of the reality of independent sales. The reality of independent sales is that you are scrambling to generate as much cash flow as possible from each potential client and you want to provide the best value and services to each client without being tied down to one brand or one set of solutions.
1. Most independent sales people sell for multiple brands and companies in order to maximize earnings. When you are an independent sales agent you are usually willing to sell just about anything for just about anyone. If you find something you could sell to one of your clients, the natural reaction would be to sell it. You are out there and you are independent. You are not tied to anyone in particular. If you can get out there and sell something and make money why not go out there and do it?
The two majors issues with this approach of “sell anything to anyone” is branding and inbound marketing. We will discuss both of these in much greater detail in the next video but let me cover them briefly here. In your local market, you need to be known for something. You have a personal brand whether you realize it or not and probably the worst “personal brand” is “that sales guy.” Unfortunately, because many independent sales people will sell anything to anyone, they get stuck with this personal brand. You want instead to be an expert in your niche. In my market, people know me and call me by the name of “The Credit Card Guy”, While I now offer a wider variety of technology solutions, I still get referrals every month where people call and say, “Bob told me to call you because you are the credit card guy.” If I had been selling Utility services, phone service, advertising and 10 other things all for different companies, there is no way I would have this sort of personal brand clarity in my local market.
2. It is difficult because of cash flow constraints. If you are out in independent sales you are probably not getting a salary, medical benefits, or car/gas/phone allowance. What happens is that you are constantly in this stage of, “I need to get some cash and just stabilize my income.” Now the issue of course is that sales has changed dramatically over the last four to five years. Many of you have began already to notice this. You have noticed that your customers are much more informed than they were four to five years ago. The bulk of the buying decisions today, even in our own industry is made by educated customers researching the options and then calling a sales person they trust to help them implement the solution.
The companies and the brands that are going to succeed in the future are those that are doing the best job at educating their clients, providing free resources, and connecting before and after the sale. In other words, you want to be able to walk into a business and have them not only educated about your competitors but educated about you and what you offer. Ideally, they will have already shown an interest in what you have to offer. That way when you walk in the sale becomes that much easier. After you make the sale, you want to be partnered with a company that is going to be educating the clients after the sale, saying, “Hey, here are these other things that you can buy. Here are the reasons you made such a good decision.”
Basically, whichever company takes the lead on providing the best free information, that is the company that is going to win. The idea I just described isn’t revolutionary, in fact it is common knowledge. Every company recognizes that marketing through “sell everything” independent partners is out of date and will be extinct in 10 years. If you went to the CEO of most companies using independent sales partners and said “Ten years from now, do you anticipate having a huge team of sales partners out in the field that are totally independent?” Most CEOs would say, “No.” Why? They recognize that inbound marketing is the wave of the future. With inbound marketing you are generating leads which you are sharing with your sales team after having educated the prospect. Very few companies will be willing to share these leads with independent reps and even today, 90% of the leads generated in our own industry through telemarketing and especially through online presence is given to inside sales teams not independent agents in the field.
The reality of independent sales is that the future of this type of business model is a little bit bleak. In fact I would not be surprised at all if the company that you were selling for has an inside sales team. Why do they have an inside sales team when they have you? Guess what? You are on the way out. They have an inside sales team simply because they are starting to realize they can do inbound marketing, blogging, email marketing, and video marketing and they can pull these leads in. Why on earth would they share those leads with an independent sales person and pay out all that commission when they can just have an inside call center or call center in the Philippines or India make those sales for them?
Have a great day,
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The Future of Independent Sales
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