Monday, April 20, 2009

The Perfect Sales Career During This Tough Economy

There are around sixteen million people in the USA that classify their career as "sales". How many of these professionals feel safe and secure at their job in this tough economy?

Hard to tell, but I'd say many of them (30% to be conservative) either fear for their position with their company, or fear that their company will be bought out and then downsize, or disappear altogether. Also, there's perhaps 10% in addition who are self-starters anyway and are itching to branch off on their own. These entrepreneurs at heart would be anxious to leave after learning all they can at a steady job, whether the economy is good or bad. So, what type of vocation would be perfect for all these folks--ie, about 40% or more than 6 million sales pros currently in this country?

Easy: they should be Independent Sales Reps.

By easy, it's meant the answer is easy. Actually being an Independent Rep can be tough. Consider these arguments in favor of taking that route:
  • You often work out of your home
  • You can, and should, use your knowledge, skills and contacts acquired through your years dedicated to your career and industry. Being an indie rep isn't an entry level position, so do get experience under your belt and work up a sizeable rolodex or contacts list for your particular field. And don't burn bridges!
  • You won't require much overhead in supplying yourself with tools of the trade--computer, copy machine, phones, fax, a decent car...most of this stuff you probably already own or can easily afford and place in a spare room in your home to use as a home office.
  • You can start small and keep working your way up. Take a part-time job in retail or some service industry if you've been laid off, and then work on getting a few lines into some accounts you have established contacts thing you know, you have some more customer contacts, then more lines to sell....see how it works?

OK, so why should any companies consider hiring you on?

First, you work for commission only...and those commissions can add up. It's not unusual for indie sales reps to make high five-figures, up into six-figure incomes. Therefore, to the company paying the commissions, you are worth only what you actually deliver...a novel concept in today's entitlement culture. That culture, by the way, is now ruining the biggest and most powerful companies of the last century. Just ask General Motors.

Second, the company doesn't have to train you or pay any benefits or perks. You do all this yourself. But it can be done, don't worry--besides, they're paying you just to deliver, no matter how that's accomplished. It's estimated the cost of hiring, training and paying benefits to an employee is close to $40K--and that's before the employee really starts to kick in and pay for himself by being productive. If a company can get results without that expense, there is another attractive aspect of using independent sales representatives.

Established companies that are looking to cut costs in this economic malaise would be absolutely crazy not to study the option of using independent reps, even just to supplement their in-house sales staff. These same companies outsource almost everything else from payroll to janitorial services to human resources to customer care. Why not sales?!?!? If there is one plumb account that they don't have in their client lists, and YOU can bring that customer to the table, at $100,000 in sales annually, don't you think any sane Sales VP would be willing to give you a percentage of that? Even if you still hold some kind of part-time gig or "day job", that's not a bad commission check to start out with. And from there you find more accounts, and more lines to sell.

A lot of sales professionals used to a steady base salary + commissions check may live in fear of being self-employed; that is natural. But keep thinking how great it would be if you called the shots! If you work up a portfolio of several dozen lines to sell to scores of accounts, your business will grow to the extent that even if one of those lines fires you, so what? You have several dozen more to fall back on.

And you'll be helping the country... How? you might ask? Having more people self-employed means more people paying taxes quarterly. Once these people go from having taxes deducted from their paychecks (a passive way to do it--face it, one gets used to the net amount they are paid) to having to write that massive check every few months (an active way to do it), paying taxes becomes a much more acutely aware activity. And this leads to citizens who are far more demanding on the government to quit wasting our money on self-serving schemes that pad every spending bill. There's nothing more fearful to career politicians than an informed and enraged electorate.

To learn more about how to be successful as an Independent Sales Rep, read my book, available on

...And if you are a small company who needs outside sales help--the book has a lot of helpful information in it for you too.