If you’re thinking about becoming an independent sales agent with us, great! We’d be glad to have you aboard. In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the benefits of becoming an agent, and we’ll cover some practical—and essential—tips to help you become the best agent you can be. As you embark on your journey, we encourage you to refer back to this guide from time to time to make sure you’re covering all the bases. If you like what you read here, stay tuned. We’ll be releasing deep dives and analysis into the sales industry on a regular basis. Now, without further ado, let’s get started.
Why You Should Be an Independent Sales Agent
For some, the ability to set their own schedule and to decide which products or services to sell has a great pull. It’s true that being an independent sales agent, or rep, can bring large rewards, but there are also potential pitfalls along the way that you should be aware of.
What it Looks Like
Most people in sales have a boss who sets their schedule for them. But independent sales reps are closer to entrepreneurs in this regard. They’re a rare breed who sets their own schedules. You may think that with large commissions, signing bonuses and lifetime residuals comes short days and big paychecks. Yes, the money can be good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that agents work short hours.
The reality is that, as with any entrepreneurial endeavour, money typically comes as a result of long hours spent in preparation and execution. If you go in with the attitude that you’ll only have to put in a few hours per day, you might not last long. Successful reps do work long hours, at least in the beginning, and they may sacrifice weekends too.
Additionally, when you are your own boss, you must be able to control the impulse to procrastinate. Procrastination hits us all from time to time, but when you set your own schedule, you must take control, and that means doing what you need to do when you need to do it. This may seem obvious, and it is, but what can’t be overstated is how often you will have to do this.
Let’s Talk Rewards
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s touch on what you stand to gain. We’ll go into specific benefits in a minute, but for now, let’s touch on the fact that money is not the only reward of being an independent sales agent. For instance, once you get the hang of time management and have a handle on the impulse to procrastinate, the ability to set your own schedule can be incredibly freeing and empowering. Successful time management yields at least two side benefits:
With these locked in place, you’ll have the confidence and the ability to tackle any other entrepreneurial endeavour you decide to branch into—though you can make so much being an independent sales agent, you may not want to do anything else, and that’s fine.
What’s more, becoming a successful independent sales rep will help you build a powerful professional network. Naturally, a stellar network will help you net more sales.
Potential Cons of Becoming an Independent Sales Agent
However, there are a few potential cons you should be aware of before you make any major changes in how you make your money. Some of these we have already touched on.
Ready to press ahead anyway? Let’s talk benefits.
The deal you get will, of course, depend on your specific ISO, but common perks include:
• The best residuals in the industry often paid on the 1st or 15th of the month.
• The biggest signing bonuses—sometimes up to $20,000.
• Access to the most payment processors, sometimes up to three or more. This means access to more sales channels.
• Access to powerful programs like Cash Discount and Same Day Funding. You’ll have first-dibs access to the latest mobile, counter top, and merchant cash advance systems and solutions.
• Your ISO may provide medical reimbursement.
• Your ISO may provide you with an advanced profile management system.•
• Your ISO may provide you with a ‘Sales Partner’ or similar system filled with resources to help you close. Many ISOs offer comprehensive sales support.
• Your ISO may provide you with discounts on cash payments to help you offset credit card processing fees and may provide ETF reimbursement where applicable.
At Team Unified, we offer the following:
• Lifetime residuals up to 90 percent.
• The best residuals, plus a three-option commission plan.
• Guaranteed bonus per deal, with no cap.
• Sales support. We give you exclusive access to all the branding and marketing materials you need.
• The support you need to help you grow. Don’t go it alone. Be part of a vibrant, growing community.
• Our New Agent Bonus Signing Incentive. Easily grow your business.
• Access to exclusive marketing materials so you can get started right away.
With all that in mind, let’s look at specific tips you can utilize right away to get off the ground running.
Not Just Surviving, but Thriving
It’s no secret that ISOs love the commission only model. It allows them to pay sales agents for the work they produce, but no more. This cuts the fat and gives executives confidence that they are using funds wisely. But just because it’s good for management doesn’t mean it isn’t a stellar opportunity for you too. In fact, if you take the deep dive and come out swinging, you can make much more than any salaried sales rep.
As mentioned, the fact that the commission-only model is scary to many is a good thing for you. It keeps competition to a minimum and leaves more prospects for you.
That said, if you fail to plan, or if you don’t work the plan you create, you won’t do well. As with any business, if you want to succeed, you must take consistent action.
You don’t always have to be right, but you always have to show up.
Before You Start
Before you take on a commission-only position, make sure you have a firm handle on your monthly budget. This is essential. For varying monthly bills like utilities, look at each for the past year and get an average. Then add 10 percent. So if your electric bill averages $105, you would actually budget $115.50. If you don’t use the extra each month, you can move it into savings or into another budget category.
Once you have a budget worked out, look at your commission plan to see how many sales per month you need to make. Again, add 10-20 percent to be on the safe side.
Crucially, the number of sales you need should be obtainable in an average month.
Put Some Money Aside
If you’re already in sales, you know that some months are a matter of feast and some months are a matter of famine. Smart use of your sales pipeline can help you navigate choppy waters. But it’s crucial to put money aside during the richer months.
You can keep this money in a savings or checking account, but whichever you use, make sure you’re budgeting for it in your budget software or system. Put another way, in life, all you can count on is the unexpected. So your budget should include a category like, “Things I forgot to budget for.” You should feed that category every month.
Even if you’re already making a good amount of money, don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need put money away for a rainy day.
Remember: you are your own boss. That means you’re in charge of the money. No one else is going to do it for you—unless you can afford to pay someone for the privilege.
Knowing that you have money tucked away for lean times will lower your anxiety and will help you execute with confidence. This can lead to more sales.
Are You the Best at Sales You Can Be?
Once you’re in a pure commissions position, it will be essential that you perform regular sales autopsies. When you don’t close the sale, at what point do you lose the prospect? When you do make the sale, at what point in the process do you get that special I’ve got them feeling? Keeping copious notes so you can do regular sales autopsies is crucial to success.
We’ll go into sales autopsies more in a future post, so stay tuned.
Another point to consider is that you can always improve. Even the late, great Zig Ziglar was always learning. Don’t take our word for it.
Mastering the Sale
We’ll do deep dives of each of these tactics in future posts, but for now, let’s touch on them so you can get started right away. These sales tips are time-tested and proven to work. But like many strategies, they can be easy to execute and hard to master. Getting regular sales requires tenacity, tact and tactical execution.
Take Advantage of Herd Mentality
Herd mentality and social proof are both psychologically sound concepts. When your prospect feels safe to proceed and comfortable, they’ll be much more open to your pitch. One of the main ways you can take advantage of herd mentality is to use the phrase ‘most people’ with intention.
Example: “Most people go with option A because ______.”
This language triggers herd mentality and activates the prospect’s natural drive to belong to a group. No one wants to feel like an outsider, right? For this reason, it’s essential you know your best performing product at all times. Don’t always go for the most profitable sale if you know you can get more—and easier—sales with a slightly less profitable, but more popular, product.
Always Smile—Especially on the Phone
First off, when in person, it’s important to know that most people can tell when a smile is insincere, even if this is a subconscious process. It was French physician Guillaume Duchenne, who discovered that genuine smiles involve at least two muscles in the face. In a genuine smile, the zygomatic muscle makes the cheeks appear larger and exposes the teeth. Meanwhile, the orbicularis oculi muscle contracts and causes the corners of the eyes to pinch.
To put it simply, in a fake smile, only the mouth moves. Know the difference when engaging with prospects and you’ll find yourself stepping through more open doors.
Additionally, it’s important to smile even while on the phone. Physically smiling when making cold calls makes you sound friendlier and more enthusiastic to the person on the other end. You may not hear or feel the difference, but your prospect will. What’s more, forcing yourself to smile even when you don’t feel like it may make you feel better. This can, in turn, affect how prospects respond to you.
Practice, Practice and Then Practice Some More
The truth is, the only way to get better at making sales calls is to make sales calls. You can do all the mental rehearsal you want—and mental rehearsal can help—but what you really need is cold, hard experience. You need to have the door slammed in your face. You need that experience so you can get over the fear of it. The fear of a thing is almost always worse than the thing itself. Fear of a thing can keep you from truly living. Face your fear and set yourself free.
As mentioned, it’s crucial that when you do make sales calls you keep notes so you can later perform a sales autopsy. What did you well? Where did you stumble? Why, ultimately, did you lose out? Why did you succeed? The only way to get better is to collect data so you can process that data and enhance your approach. No data, no progress.
Don’t be afraid of being told ‘No,’ be afraid of telling yourself no. The most destructive words in any language are, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Remember, at the end of pain is success.
Build Quality Relationships
You may be your own boss, but that doesn’t mean you can or should go it alone. We may call them ‘prospects,’ but you should never forget that sales is about relationships and trust. Don’t get the sale at any cost. Build relationships as you go so that you can get referrals. Every prospect that comes to you instead of the other way around means money in your pocket one way or another.
It pays to be a people person.
One way to generate referrals is to provide them. If you know of anyone who would benefit from your client’s business or service, go ahead and hook them up. Your client will remember this and will likely do the same for you should the opportunity arise.
Don’t Rely Too Much on Customer Profiles
Building a customer profile is an essential step in the process of becoming a profitable independent sales agent. But you don’t want to rely too much on it. Follow up with anyone who shows interest in your product, regardless of whether they seem too young, old, poor or whatever else. Their circumstances can change down the line, and if you show them respect, they’ll remember you. And even if they aren’t a great match, they may know someone who is.
Qualify Your Prospects
At the same time, you want to spend adequate time qualifying prospects. Many agents, in a rush to close a sale, miss this step. Call it what you want: the qualifying step or the customer interview, but it’s vital. In the sales world, there are two types of potential customers: the qualified prospect and the suspect. The suspect is so named because he or she will act like a prospect when in fact they are incapable of buying or are not actually inclined to do so. To maximize income, you must find out who is a prospect and who is a suspect.
Some independent sales agents use the acronym M.A.N to remember these questions, where M stands for ‘money,’ A stands for ‘authority’ and N stands for ‘Need.’ The question then becomes, ‘Is this person The Man?’ It’s a bit outdated to be sure, but if it helps you to remember the qualifying questions, by all means, use it.
Always Over Deliver
Stuff happens. On any given day, you may not be able to perform at one hundred percent because of any number of unforeseen events or circumstances. That’s why you must over deliver whenever possible. It’s difficult to focus on anything other than making that sale, especially when you’re in a lean month, but don’t get caught in the beginner’s trap of forgetting that your customers are real, living breathing people.
If there’s something you can do for your customer, do it. People will remember you for it. To use a tired expression, go the extra mile, in other words. You may not feel like you’re generating value by doing so, but you are. There are a hundred and one little ways that helping other people can turn into value for you down the line.
Set Both Short Term and Long-Term Goals
A long-term goal is useless in the absence of a short-term goal. What you’ll end up with is a direction to head in but no idea how to get there. On the other hand, short term goals aren’t very useful without long term goals to guide them. Set both. At the same time, your goals should be harmonious. For instance, don’t set a short-term goal to hit 20 sales per month if your long-term goal is to move into another business altogether. Those goals are in conflict with one another and will lead you down a disastrous path.
We hope that this guide has set you on the path to becoming a successful independent sales agent. If you like what you read here, stay tuned. We’ll be releasing in-depth guides and deep dives into the sales industry on a regular basis.