The commercial agent is a key figure especially for those companies that offer a customized product / service. They need a good agent who knows how to identify opportunities and knows the clientele of their geographical area/ sector. Before starting with the selection of agents, we recommend spending some time to write a document where you reflect the list of activities or complementary products of your company to be able to find the most appropriate profiles.
What are the key aspects when selecting a commercial agent?
There are certain key issues. Even though they are not definitive and may vary depending on the type of product. Also time of the export project or the need for market penetration are influencers. Thus we will show you the most important ones:
– Age: Young agents are dynamic and maintain a very proactive attitude. On the contrary, they may lack a deep knowledge of the market. On the other side, those whose age is close to retirement have extensive experience. Moreover, they have many contacts resulting from years of presence in the sector. With a simple call you can get quotes and open commercial doors. There is no recommended age and it will depend on the speed of market penetration that you want or need.
– Experience: Some agents have been commercial agents throughout their professional career. Others may come from industry businesses, commercial sector etc. Some agents have made their professional career in the same sector, while others have been changing their course.
– Percentage of commission: It is important to know the different percentages of commissions for the various sectors. This is important to be able to negotiate adequately. In the industry we usually speak of a compensation of 3% to 8%. For interior products, for example, 10% to 15% (France, Spain).
– Portfolio of representation: It is important to know the existing portfolio in order to filter out the complementarity with the one from the company.
– Billing: It is important to know the level of billing (global or in commissions) to determine the value of the candidate you are interviewing. We often find commercial agents that bill more than one national SME. This will also determine the interest that our portfolio may arouse, depending on the amount that can be invoiced with it.
– Geographic coverage area: No commercial agent can adequately cover an entire country of large dimensions, such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy or the UK. It is advisable to limit the coverage area in addition to doing it by sectors.
– Typology of clientele: It is convenient to ask him about the type of client he worked with. The cadence of his routes and number of active clients that he has at the present time are also interesting.
– References: It is important that you can call any of the clients of the agent to request references and evaluate the degree of moral and professional integrity of the candidate.
– Structure: Some agents work completely alone while others associate with colleagues by creating representative agencies. The most common is to find agent who use back office or telephone support to their commercial prospecting.
– Languages: Although it is not a key aspect, it is always interesting to know what languages the candidate speaks if he has to interact with a neighboring market.
– Training: If the product / service is very technical it is important to know if the agent had a proper training and is qualified to work with it.