The Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Successful Self-Employed, Independent Sales Rep
You'd have to be crazy to give up a salary and become a freelance sales agent... right? So, why do so many top producing salespeople become self-employed, what steps do they take and what's their motivation to leave the safety net of a salaried position as a company employee?
Get our free 'Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Successful Self-Employed Sales Professional' and discover why hundreds of thousands of top producing salespeople all over the world are ditching their salary, parting ways with their employers and going it alone.
● Why hundreds of thousands of sales professionals all over the world are leaving their jobs in favour of becoming self-employed
● What factors to take into consideration to determine whether it's your time to join them
● The challenges, The goals, The rewards
● A personal checklist to help you visualise your path to self-employment
● How to get started in 5 easy steps
Why hundreds of thousands of top performing sales professionals all over the world have left their jobs in favour of becoming self-employed
Did you know that there are literally hundreds of thousands of consistently top producing sales professionals all over the world who have already chosen to ditch their employers and the safety net of a regular wage in favour of setting up in business for themselves?
But you'd have to be insane to give up a regular wage wouldn't you?
Well no, and here's why…
There's one fundamental difference between employees and the self-employed, that difference is being entrepreneurial and having a strong desire to work for yourself and run your own business.
There are many reasons as to why you may wish to start your own company. Some do it for money, others to be able to live a better quality of life or perhaps you simply want a better work/life balance.
Ask yourself this one question: Am I entrepreneurial and do I have a desire to start and run my own business?
If you answered yes, fantastic! Read on and we'll give you all of the information you need to get started.
Getting into the right mindset:
When we think about all of the successful business owners out there who start their own companies, we don't think of them as working on a commission-only basis. In the sales world however, that's sometimes how self-employed, independent sales professionals are described.
Let's quickly dispel a common myth about the term 'commission-only'. Any company owner that has or ever will be, works on a commission-only basis. Why? Because there is simply no one to pay you to run your own business. Instead you pay yourself a percentage of the profits on the back of closed business. Whether you're a coffee shop owner or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that's just the way it is. Remember, there is no one to pay you a wage to run your own business, if there was we'd all be doing it.
What Is A Sales Commission?
'Commission' is a sales related term that refers to the remuneration paid to a salesperson on the back of a newly piece of closed business. Self-employed sales professionals are typically paid on a commission-only basis once the funds for the purchase have reached the company you are representing.
So, what type of person becomes a self-employed (commission-only) sales professional?
First of all, getting started and making a success of any business comes with its own unique set of challenges. However, the rewards can far outweigh the challenges when you are successful.
For a sales professional the upfront financial risk faced by so many business owners is virtually non-existent also. It's not like you have to invest in bricks and mortar, launch your own products or services and invest in a ton of stock upfront. You can even turn your home into your office so there's no need to rent office space, unless you really want to.
There is a general trait associated to those who are successful however. Typically the self-employed sales professionals who go on to become highly successful are those who have come from a background in sales as employees and have been consistent top performers in their field. They are also natural leaders and are comfortable meeting with and selling to senior level management or C-Level executives.
The Challenges / The Goals / The Rewards
Let's get real for a minute. Everyone knows that being self-employed means greater rewards and that company owners earn more than their employees. But what does it take to get there for independent sales reps?
The good news
The good news is that you don't face many of the challenges that traditional business owners face i.e. those trying to invent, launch or take a new product to market. You also don't have any of the financial outlay of opening a bricks and mortar store. However, you will need to invest your time and dedication a valuable resource in and of itself.
Infact, self-employed sales professionals have very little financial outlay, except perhaps purchasing basic office supplies, a smartphone and a laptop. You can choose the companies you want to work with and build a portfolio of products or services that you have similar experience selling and perhaps already even know that your existing connections already need.
The main challenge a salesperson faces when becoming newly self-employed is to be able to financially support yourself for the first month or two (sometimes longer depending on what you decide to sell) when nurturing your sales pipeline. It's therefore important to initially find new product/service lines that have short sales cycles and high demand in the marketplace.
You live in a fantastic time whereby new technology and tools are readily available to make running and managing your own business incredibly easy. Infact there has never been a better time to set up your own business! Your peers who are out there earning fortunes as independent reps never had the same luxuries that are available to you right now.
That's also why a service like CommissionCrowd is invaluable for sales reps who are eager to set up in business for themselves. Not only is it 100% free for salespeople, it's super easy to build the perfect sales portfolio based on your personal requirements. As your company grows you can start adding additional lines that may have slightly longer sales cycles but yield much higher commissions on the back of the business you close.
The Goal of every self-employed sales professional
Your goal as an independent (self-employed) sales rep is to build a portfolio of multiple products/services that compliment your networks. These may be networks of contacts you already have, or are planning to build based on the experience you have selling within a particular industry sector.
Whereby employees are restricted to working with one company - the one who's purchased their time by paying a wage - you are free to work with as many as you like. You'll be able to cross and upsell multiple products/services to each of your clients and even use CommissionCrowd to connect with companies that can fulfill the requirements of your clients even if it's not a line you carry currently.
Now you're the 'go to person' for all of their needs be it Materials, Supplies, POS, recruitment, Advertising/Marketing services, IT/Web Development services, Components, Lighting or even construction projects. Infact CommissionCrowd have every industry you can possibly imagine covered!
The rewards of self-employment speak for themselves. Once you've built your portfolio and have started selling multiple products/services into your networks, you're well on your way to enjoying the multitude of benefits that come with being independent.
What kind of commission levels can you expect to earn?
While there is no set formula when it comes to a company calculating commission rates, it's important to note that the sales agent is always in a position to negotiate the best rate. Having a strong network of contacts and being able to approach a company and let them know you're able to open doors that have been previously locked will also put you in a much stronger position.
Typical commission rates for independent sales agents:
Representing a company who sells physical products will tend to pay slightly lower commission rates than those of service providers. This is due to the higher costs associated with manufacturing and warehousing. However, the rewards for selling in bulk and the frequency of repeat orders very quickly mount up.
Typically you can expect sales commissions in the region of around 7 - 15% on the sale value, or 20 - 40% on the gross sales margin.
Typically you can expect commissions in the region of 20 - 50%+ offered for service based sales, especially when selling online SaaS services for which expenses incurred by the company per sale are negligible.
While we're here let's talk about wages
What is a wage or salary and why do companies pay their employees one over straight commission? Well it's very simple, a company pays you a wage to buy your full time and dedication to their cause. As an employee you'll sign a contract stating that you'll not be able to work for any other company during that time.
You shouldn't fear giving up a wage because once you become self-employed you'll be able to dedicate your full time and dedication to YOUR cause. Once you've built a successful sales portfolio you'll far exceed the salary a company would ever be willing to pay you anyway.
What Type Of Independent Sales Professional Will You Be?
There are a great number of terms that can be used to describe the type of independent sales professional you are. Essentially they all equate to the same thing, self-employment, but it will help you to understand the main differences.
● Independent Sales rep
● Commission-only sales agent
● Self-employed sales professional
● 1099 sales rep (this is a US term simply referring to the 1099 tax return form that self-employed people file)
The above (and other similar terms) are simply generic terminology used to essentially describe the fact that you are self-employed and provide sales as a service on a commission-only basis.
Manufacturers Representatives are essentially self-employed sales reps who act as a middleman/woman between the manufacturer of physical goods and the end client or buyer. Manufacturer's reps fulfill a number of roles, often including new territory development and Marketing activities.
Unlike a traditional distributor, a Manufacturer's rep does not purchase and hold inventory of their own, their function is to forge and maintain long lasting relationships with buyers while taking care of the entire sales process on behalf of the manufacturer.
Reps are independent contractors and are paid a commission on a percentage of the value of sales generated. They may work within shared territories alongside other reps or develop their own exclusive territories depending on the arrangement with the manufacturer.
An independent distributor operates slightly different from a Manufacturer's rep. A distributor purchases and warehouses the products they wish to sell upfront. They will then resell these to retailers or even directly to the end user. Traditionally this role is not a starting point for self-employed sales reps as cash is needed upfront to purchase the goods. Distributors also sometimes play an active role in Marketing and even financial support to the manufacturer.
Are You Ready To Become A Self-Employed Sales Professional? (checklist)
The following checklist will help you to determine whether or not it's time for you to take control of your destiny and become self-employed. Answer the following questions as accurately as possible then add up your score then check against our advice below.
I'm a consistent top performer and strive to exceed my targets every month
I'm entrepreneurial and want to become self-employed because it's always been a dream of mine to run my own business
No, I like working for someone.
I'm eager to learn how to run a business and understand that i'll be responsible for organising the payment of taxes, insurance, healthcare and personal retirement fund etc
I'm financially sound and will be able to nurture a new sales pipeline for a couple of months without earning a wage during this time
I'm aware that i'll need to ensure that solid contractual agreements will need to be in place with my company principals before we agree to start working together
I understand that the goal of a successful independent sales rep is to build a portfolio of products/services that compliment each other and then sell multiple lines into my networks
I'm able to work well on my own and don't need to be in a team environment to succeed and stay motivated
I'm a natural born leader and am confident in my ability to sell products/services that I believe in
I have experience within a particular industry and know what my future clients will require
I have an existing network of clients and contacts that I've sold to in the past who know, like and trust me. Or you have a desire to build one
Your score is :
How did you do?*
70 - 100 points
You're ready to start your self-employed sales career! You have exactly the kind of experience, determination and mindset it takes to grab life by the horns and become successfully independent. Get Started
60 - 40 points
Great, you've likely got what it takes however, you may need to spend some time seriously considering whether self-employment is right for you at this stage. The rewards are huge but it takes the right mindset, hard work and determination when starting your own business.
Under 40 points
It's very likely not the right time to be considering self-employment. Perhaps gain a little more experience in your field and strive to become a consistent top performer ahead of considering starting your own business.
How to start your self-employed sales career on CommissionCrowd in 10 minutes or less (5 Easy Steps):
Step 1: Register for your free account
Step 2: Complete your profile to make yourself stand out
Step 3: Start building your portfolio by searching for companies you want to sell for
Step 4: Start a discussion with the company or apply to work with them directly
Step 5: You're ready to go!
Note: Using CommissionCrowd to also manage your remote working partnerships will allow you to easily manage multiple company principals at the same time while eliminating all of the mundane manual reporting and activity tasks that take your time away from selling.