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Career Spotlight: Independent Sales Reps

On Your Own

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Mixed race woman working on clothing shop
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For those mavericks who prefer to set their own schedules and who like the control of deciding what products or services to sell and which to not, Independent Sales may be for them. Being an Independent Sales Rep takes self-discipline, effective time management skills and requires a lot of hard work. For those who prefer to be on their own and are willing to pay the price, Independent Sales may be the perfect career.

A Typical Day in the Life of an Independent Sales Rep

While most have a boss or a company with expectations about when you should show up to work and how much activity you should have in any given day, Independent Sales reps set their own rules, expectations and schedule. With all this freedom, you'd be tempted to think that Independent Reps only work a few hours a day and have plenty of free time. Actually, these perceptions only apply to those who don't last too long as an Independent Sales Rep.

The successful reps usually work long hours that often stretch into the weekends and holidays. They are masters of time management and devote many hours and energy to learning everything there is to learn about the product or service they represent. In other words, Independent Sales Reps who are successful are the hardest working reps in the selling field.

The Rewards

As hard as successful Independent Sales Reps work, many would think that the only possible reward would be a high income. And while Independent Sales Reps can, and often do earn a substantial income, the true rewards are the same as those experienced by entrepreneurs. Self confidence in abundance, self-trust and reliance and, in most cases, an expansive professional network are just a few of the benefits that have a positive impact on many life areas.

Types of Independent Sales Rep Positions

Like Manufacturer's Reps, Independent Sales Reps seek out businesses who either need to augment their sales force and are willing to outsource sales or already are active believers in outsourcing sales and marketing. Software developers are one of the most common companies that contract with Independent Sales, but positions can be found in many industries.

When searching for a company to represent, you should avoid those with an existing sales force and focus more to small businesses, start ups and businesses whose home (or only) office is located outside of the United States.

Compensation

If you are expecting a base salary, you are looking for the wrong type of sales position. An overwhelming majority of independent sales positions are 100% commission based. That means that you only get paid when you sell something. Since the company you represent does not have to pay you a salary, cover your benefits, pay you for time off or pay any governmental or state employment fees, they are more willing to pay a higher percentage of gross profit to you. Commission plans that pay out between 30 and 60% are common in independent positions. The whole trick is to find a product or service that can be sold with substantial profit margins since that is usually the only way you will get paid.

Things to Consider

Many get into Independent Sales due to an inability to find a position as a salaried employee. These reps usually only stay in the independent ranks until they find employment. But for those who choose independent sales, or for those consider an Independent Sales Rep position, there are several factors that need to be considered. One is retirement and the fact that you will need to manage and contribute to your own retirement plan. Another factor is health insurance. While there are countless insurance plans for Independent Reps to choose from, these plans are often very expensive and cut directly into whatever commission you earn.

Lastly, Independent Sales Reps should consider how they will create a healthy work-life balance. With no set or guaranteed salary and relying completely on commission earned from sales, Independent Sales Reps are typical "workaholics." And while loving your job is important to your general well-being, time away from work is equally important.

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