CHAPTER 3: How to appraise a German Sales Agent

In Chapter 1 we discussed the decision as to whether a Sales Agent was your best route into the German market. Chapter 2 spelt out the steps to take in order to find your agent and now, Chapter 3, is a guide to the points that will help you appraise the agent 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?