Get Outstanding Results from Agents: Five Strategies that Bring Success

Many companies do an excellent job of identifying, appointing, training and making initial calls with their new agents. Then, they sit back and wait for orders to come in. Not surprisingly no orders arrive, and the company is disappointed and frustrated. It’s a story I hear time and again when I first meet with clients. The solution is five strategies that enable a shift from managing agents to leading and motivating them instead.

1. Build the relationship.

What motivates agents? Research shows that agents care most about the relationship. They want a mutually compatible partnership that grows both of your businesses. A partnership means treating your agent more like a customer than an employee—respecting their time, demonstrating the opportunities, and making it easy and fun to do business. It’s a relationship that provides agents with clarity and a sense of authority, including clear lines of communication and access to decision makers. Lastly, it’s a relationship with a personal touch, in which you thank agents for their efforts and celebrate their successes. The result? An agent who feels valued brings value.

2. Create a plan and work the plan.

Once you have established a relationship, it’s time to give it structure. Agents typically won’t provide a business plan or reports. However, you can create these through your communications. I always hold an informal meeting with an agent right at the start. In this meeting, we discuss expectations for the coming year, planned actions for the first quarter, specific actions in the next few weeks, and importantly, what support he/she will need from me. This is all done verbally—except I take notes and share these by email. I then contact the agent every two to four weeks to discuss what worked and what didn’t and to review actions in the coming weeks. Again, I put it all into writing. With this approach, agents will come to expect your call and be grateful for it.

3. Offer tools on a silver platter.

Each of your agents is probably representing five to ten product lines. How much detail agents remember about your products will depend on how easy you make it. Give them cheat sheets on each product, on how to beat the competition, and on key points of differentiation. Give them proof through testimonials, demonstrations, and performance data. Package it all in customer-ready formats, such as PowerPoint presentations, brochures, videos, and demonstration kits. Easy-to-use tools will bring agents success, which will in turn increase their interest in selling your products. It’s an upfront investment with exponential results.

4. Make their inquiries your top priority.

Responsiveness is critical. When agents have inquiries, they typically have a hot prospect. However, the most common complaint from agents is a lack of prompt replies. For myself and my clients, I set the following rule: all calls acknowledged and returned within four hours on the same day, and all emails acknowledged immediately and responded to within 24 hours. If you are traveling heavily, assign a full-time assistant or inside sales person to respond to agent inquiries. This person should have every resource on hand, direct access to departments, and the authority to make urgent requests. Lastly, make sure every response is more than complete, ensuring agents need only reply with a “Thanks! That gives me everything I need.”

5. Provide extraordinary service.

As we all know, the work doesn’t end with the sale. There are two types of client services that will further support your agents. First, offer high-quality, complimentary after-sale services, such as pre-installation manuals, onsite product training, and assembly support. It all ensures a happy client and an agent free and motivated to make more sales. Second, package a selection of fee-based maintenance, training, and repair services that agents can sell to clients on a long-term basis. These can be profitable additions to an agent’s business and another motivation to sell your products. Extraordinary services create agent loyalty.

Mel Sauvé, PEng, MBA, is the president of Global Growth, a sales and marketing consultancy with rare frontline experience for supporting highly engineered, Canadian manufacturing and service companies that want to expand across Canadian, US and international markets.

For a free consultation, call 416-998-5091 or email