Types of Sales Agents (With Benefits and Roles)
Updated July 27, 2022
A company's sales department is the group of individuals who persuade customers to purchase products and services. There are different sales structures that companies can consider, and companies can benefit from hiring specific types of sales agents to help with certain tasks. Knowing the tasks sales agents can perform can help you decide which types of sales agents can help you meet your goals. In this article, we discuss the different types of sales agents, the benefits of hiring them and explore the different roles they can fulfill.
What is a sales agent?
A sales agent is a professional that your company hires to sell products or services and act as a spokesperson for your brand in the process. Often, sales agents are independent workers who earn commission based on the dollar amount they sell.
Some sales agents work for sales agencies who contract out their workers. However, both agency salespeople and un-agented individuals can offer services based on the type of sales you might need to increase revenue.
Types of sales agents
Some common types of sales agents are:
Traditional sales agents
Traditional sales agents are individuals who work for sales agencies, and companies can hire these agents for a specific role. Traditional sales agents often have profiles or portfolios with existing customers that the company can use once the company hires them. Traditional agents typically earn a commission on each sale.
Sales agency teams
Some sales agencies offer entire teams for hire rather than just individual agents. Companies may contract a sales agency team in order to outsource their sales work. Companies may then have the sales agency manage the entire region or customer sector that they assign to the sales agency team. This option allows internal sales teams to focus on managing accounts, performing market research and identifying future business needs rather than selling their products.
Your company may partner with another business to perform some sales functions. Sometimes, your company's product might fit with another company's sales model. For example, if you sell paper, you may work with a printing company. The printing company might then offer your products along with theirs to increase the value and convenience of their products. This can help you reach additional customers in markets that other businesses already reach.
Business consultants can help your sales operations by recommending products, business partnerships or services that may increase your revenue. This can be helpful if your company primarily works to contract other businesses. For example, if your company manufactures computer hardware, a consultant may recommend a computer company that is looking for a steady provider, establishing a business-to-business relationship.
Online sales agents
Online sales agents specialize in using technology, social media, search engines and other digital tools to sell products online. You might consider hiring online sales agents if you primarily sell your product online with minimal shipping and handling. For example, if you hope increase sales for a paid application or mobile game, online sales agents can target relevant markets and sell your product.
Affiliate marketing opportunities
Similar to online agents, affiliate marketing targets potential customers online. You provide an affiliate company with marketing copy, images, photos or other media, and they share it on other websites or through other channels to target customers. Although not directly contacting potential customers, affiliate marketing may still expand your prospects and increase revenue by reaching new audiences.
Sales lead experts
Leads and referrals are individuals that your business might convert to customers. A business considers someone a lead when they're in a target demographic or if they ask about a product or service. Similar to traditional sales agents, you can hire sales lead agencies or individuals to cold call consumers, contact potential leads online or qualify leads. This can save your designated sales staff time by allowing them to focus on selling.
Benefits of having multiple types of sales agents
There are several benefits to hiring different types of sales agents, including:
New customer lists: Sales agents often specialize in certain markets and bring new customer lists to your business. This reduces the time you need to generate leads.
Increased sales speed: Because agents have customer lists, you can reduce the time needed for lead generation, prospecting and conversion.
Limited need for cold calling: Many companies have inside sales departments to cold call potential customers, but outsourcing this task to external agents can help sales departments focus on selling.
Lower need for prospecting: Similar to the benefits of outsourcing cold calling, external sales agents might have already prospected target markets. This can provide you with pre-identified markets your sellers can explore.
Lower costs: Outsourced sales agents or teams may cost less than internal sales teams. Often, there may be fees and commission costs, but you may be able to save on full-time salaries and benefits.
Less time managing teams: If outsourcing sales to an agency team, account managers can focus more on strategy and planning rather than managing large groups of employees.
New products and strategies: Affiliate marketing and consultants can provide you with new products and partnerships that can increase the value of your products and services.
Related: 14 Prospecting Ideas for Salespeople
Sales agent roles to hire
You can hire sales agents to fill various roles for your company. Some of these roles and specialties include:
Inside sales describes the process of calling, emailing or contacting customers online from an office setting. Some common tasks include:
Understanding customer needs and technical requirements
Learning the details of company products and services
Providing competitive analysis to understand how to improve sales
Identifying target markets or accounts
Managing customer relationships
Upselling and cross-selling products and services
Troubleshooting customer queries
You can hire individuals or teams of sales agents to perform some of these basic duties, while inside sales representatives or account managers can oversee customer relationships and determine sales strategies.
Similar to inside sales, outside sales representatives sell products, prospect, manage relationships and make product recommendations. Additionally, an outside sales representative often goes out to meet customers face-to-face in prospective markets to sell their products. This can involve traveling to businesses, schools or events. If you have designated agents performing these duties, it may provide you with more time to analyze sales data and overall performance.
Sales support ensures that sales representatives have the technology and resources available to fulfill their duties. They might provide support like providing shipping and tracking information, resolving technical bugs or managing customer databases. Sales agents in this role allow inside and outside representatives to focus on selling rather than on some of the administrative tasks of the job.
Client services is like inside sales, as they typically work in office settings and assist customers with questions or concerns. Client services may answer phone calls and receive messages from the appropriate sales representatives. This role ensures customers have a positive experience with the company. If you hire agents to perform client services roles, training them on company culture and business etiquette can ensure they positively represent your brand.
Account managers are professionals who handle specific clients at a company. This is an important role for customers who either purchase a large number of your products or repeatedly use your services, as their account manager may become a regular contact who liaises between them and your business. Most account manager roles are internal employees that can oversee sales agents.
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