Exporting to France: Study of sales agents in France
There is absolutely no doubt that having a good agent in France is of paramount importance. We understand that “good” defines an agent with extensive experience in the market and a satisfactory customer-base. Nevertheless, we have to ask ourselves if we are doing enough to make sure that our agent can carry our his duties adequately. Are our companies qualified and predisposed to export? What opinions do overseas businessmen have of Spanish companies? And our own products?
ITC has compiled a study which explores the Spanish companies as seen through the eyes of French sales agents, what they consider to be products crucial to the French market and how Spanish companies should go about approaching the expansion into France.
Spanish Products Appraised
In general French sales agents consider that Spanish products are of quality, have a distinctive design and are competitively priced. However, they often do not comply with French standards and have to be modified. Spanish businesses should do their homework regarding standards before initially approaching the market.
The Relationship between the Agent and the Company
French agents need to feel that the company has confidence in them from the outset. It is crucial that the company guarantee regular follow-up, joint customer visits and provide sufficient backing for the sales campaigns and negotiations. This includes, but is not limited to, publicity, marketing and communications. Likewise, they have to ensure adequate economic and infrastructure provisions for the campaign before approaching new markets. These include sufficient staff with adequate preparation for maintaining overseas relationships, opening up new markets and trained in export procedures.
Once relationships have been initiated, the company should nurture quality of service; having a good product and keeping abreast of design developments are not enough, they have to be backed up with an efficient and effective sales and after-sales service.
Whilst we have mentioned the need for the company to have complete confidence in the agent, the latter should maintain a permanent line of communication with the firm, its production processes, product developments and relationship administration.
As far as formalising relationship between the agent and the company is concerned, French sales agents recommend using a contract which safeguards the independence of the agent, even whilst they feel that mutual trust and respect are more important. AS far as the basics of the contract are concerned, essentials elements include clauses that cover the customer base and roduct standards which are basic to opening new markets.
Setting up in France: French sales agents always view very positively a company’s commitment to the market wither through a branch office or partnership with a French firm which will always make penetration of a Spanish product or service easier.
This study was carried out by a team of ITC consultants specialised in the French market. International Team Consulting will search for and select customers, international sales agents and distributors in your name and will provide you with candidates interested in buying or selling your products in overseas markets.
For more information on how we can help you, please contact:
Founding Partner in ITC
Sales Rep in France (Chapter 3)
In Chapter 1 we discussed the decision as to whether a Sales Rep was your best route into the French market. Chapter 2 spelt out the steps to take in order to find your representative in France and now, Chapter 3, is a guide to the points that will help you appraise the Rep and measure his suitability to perform the task.
1) Professional Profile: How long has he been working in the industry? This experience is technical or commercial? How long has he been a sales agent? What percentage of his time is spent travelling?
2) Personal Details: Does he come across as pro-active, articulate and professional? Does he strike the correct balance between aggressiveness and passivity?
3) Client Type: What is his portfolio of clients? Is this what we’re looking for?
4) Product Mix: What other firms does he represent? Are they complimentary to our range? Is he handling a reasonable number of clients, will his workload allow him to reasonably incorporate our product?
5) Sales Force: Does he work alone or with colleagues? Is he a free-lance or form part of an agency? Would he have to expand the sales team to handle our lines?
6) Turnover: Are the increases/decreases in sales logical? If not, why not? Try to obtain turnover figures for the last 5 years.
7) Territorial considerations: What areas is the candidate proposing? Is this logical taking into account his sales force? Are there branch offices in other parts of the country?
8) Resources: Does the agency have an office and/or showroom? Does our candidate possess sufficient technical know-how should this be necessary?
9) Commercial Activity: Would our candidate be happy to provide us with market information? How does he further market penetration? Is this enough for and pertinent to us? How is time divided between the companies in his portfolio?
10) Remuneration: Is the commission in line with market standards? Has he requested any type of fixed fee arrangement or reimbursement for expenses? Though probably not, are these justifiable?
ITC will not only advise you on how to best appraise the sales agent who will best represent your interests in France, but we will also provide advice on and accompany you during negotiations by being present at meeting with your international partners.
For further advice on how we can help you in your international projects, please contact:
Consulting Partner in International Team Consulting