Finding sales reps is one thing. Knowing how to find independent sales reps that rock is a whole different ball game.

There’s no shortage of independent sales reps looking for new products and services to sell. The problem is, some of them aren’t very good. As a result, you as a hiring manager or business owner have to ask yourself this critical question: Do you know how to find independent sales reps that can do what you need done for your company?

If the answer is anything but “yes,” you’ve come to the right place. As with most hiring practices, there are strategies and tips for how to find independent sales reps who will fit the mold you’re looking to fill. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find the reps you seek, but it does mean that your chances of meeting the right person increase dramatically, as long as you keep the following ideas in mind.

how to find independent sales reps

4 Proven tactics for hiring an independent sales rep

1. Start with your network

Having a network is key to learning how to find independent sales reps. The reality is that if you’re well-networked, you probably already know, perhaps through a few degrees of separation, your next independent sales rep.

Networking is important for a few reasons. The first is that it creates connections and relationships, and those things breed accountability. No one in your network who values your relationship would intentionally direct you to an unsuccessful salesperson—not if they want to keep you as a colleague, anyway. By speaking with other industry professionals you know and trust, you’re well on your way to meeting the perfect candidate for your budding sales force.

The second is that networking connects you with people who already have some expertise in your industry. While it’s possible to hire a salesperson who’s never sold your type of product or service, you’re more likely to meet a successful candidate when you’re looking within the parameters of your industry. (This can complicate things a little bit when it comes to conflict of interest amongst competitors, but that’s a bridge to cross later.)

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2. What to look for

Learning how to find independent sales reps that close deals also requires that you know what to look for. Not surprisingly, before you even look at numbers, one of the first things you want to see is that the candidate has a good network themselves. Sure, inexperienced salespeople may be eager, and maybe you’ll find one you’d like to try out. But in general, you’ll be better off with someone who already knows potential customers.

You also want to find someone who is enthusiastic about your product or service. Some salespeople are happy to sell anything, but they tend to be focused more on numbers than on solving problems. Someone who believes in your product is going to be more knowledgeable about it, and they’re also going to be more convincing because they come across as though they would buy the product themselves (even if they haven’t).

And of course, make sure the reps you hire excel at the selling you need them to do. If they’ll be doing a lot of cold calling, press candidates on their experience and comfort level doing so. If they’ll spend most of their time in the field, make sure they have a track record of doing so. Many independent sales reps come across as jacks of all trades. Hone in on the things you need and challenge candidates to demonstrate their proficiency.

3. Attracting the right people

Those who know how to find independent sales reps will tell you that what you have to offer is an important recruiting tool. Since independent sales reps are contractors, you won’t be responsible for health insurance or other benefits. However, you can offer other incentives, such as milestone bonuses, expense reimbursement, flexible work schedule, and on-the-job training.

Of course, the money will ultimately be the greatest attraction. Most independent sales reps will command anywhere from 5%-25% commission payments. Understand the caliber of your talent and negotiate accordingly. If someone is worth 15%, don’t low-ball them at 10%, even if they’re willing to accept that. When you pay fairly from the beginning, you demonstrate the value of the sales rep to your organization, which in turn makes them feel valued and makes the value you as well.

4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help

If you’re still not comfortable that you know how to find independent sales reps, let someone else do the work for you. Sites like RepHunter.com connect hiring managers with qualified contractors for a small fee, eliminating a lot of the “net-casting” that comes along with recruiting. Yes, it’s an additional cost, but when you think what you’re saving on benefits and salary by hiring an independent rep, you may find that paying for a little help is worth the investment, especially since the decision to hire is ultimately up to you.

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