How to Become an Independent Sales Rep

Independent sales reps are sales professionals who work independently, outside of and separate from any associated company offices. They often sell a number of product lines, from a number of different companies. To work as an independent sales rep, you must become self-employed, which in turn obligates you to every aspect of both sales and business operations, including marketing, customer service, order processing and accounting. The benefits are that you do not have a boss to answer to, you can set your own schedule, you can protect your income by diversifying your offerings and your salary is not capped. You do not need specialized training or specific experience to work in this sales field, but you should have entrepreneurial qualities. Follow these steps to become an independent sales rep.


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    Learn as much as you can about sales and business operations. Read books, attend seminars, take on-site or online courses, ask for guidance from other successful salespeople and study online sources in order to educate yourself on what it takes to be an independent sales rep, as well as what it takes to run a successful business.
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    Create your business. Check with your government's business regulatory agency to find out what type of licensing is required for you to practice as an independent sales rep in your area.
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    Find products that you want to sell. You can find independent sales opportunities through a variety of sources:
    • Some websites allow you to register, complete a profile and search for sales rep opportunities in the industry (or industries) you are interested in. Additionally, companies searching for independent sales reps can search the site to find you.
    • Your chamber of commerce may be able to lead you to local businesses who are in need of independent sales reps.
    • Attend conferences, seminars and trade shows related to the industry you are interested in and approach vendors about possible independent sales opportunities.
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    Establish a customer base. Whichever independent sales opportunities you decide to pursue, you must have a customer base to which you can market your offerings. Use the following methods to build a customer base:
    • Attend networking events. Find events related to your industry in the local classifieds, in the community section of classifieds sites like Craigslist and on websites like Meet as many people as you can, hand out business cards and follow-up with useful contacts. Ask to be a featured speaker at these events, if possible.
    • Advertise your independent sales rep offerings in newspapers, magazines, trade publications, classifieds websites and industry-related web directories. For example, if you choose to represent a computer hardware manufacturer, you can advertise in technology magazines and in the technology section of your local newspaper.
    • Develop an online presence. Create a business website, set up and manage social networking accounts, contribute to industry-related online forums, run a blog and write useful content for other blogs. Be sure to include a link back to your website in all of your forum, blog and social networking posts.
    • You may consider hiring a "rainmaker" to drive sales to you. A rainmaker is a salesperson who has established connections that may be used to attract customers to your business.


  • Be aware that, as an independent sales rep, your income will be completely based on commissions. Therefore, you should have a considerable savings for back up, both while you are starting out and after your business takes off. A good rule of thumb is to account for the possibility of going a straight 6 months without pay.

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Categories: Sales