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Hiring outside sales representatives comes with unique advantages and disadvantages. The primary draw for most business owners is that you don't have to pay outside sales people a regular salary and fringe benefits like you do for other employees. That is because outside sales reps determine their own salary based on the number of products or services they sell.

Many people are drawn to this career due to the flexibility it offers over a traditional in-house sales job. This flexibility can be something that is difficult for business owners to monitor. The tips described below can help you actively track your outside sales staff while providing them with the freedom they need to be successful.

Make Sure Your Sales Reps Understand Your Expectations

It is critical that both you and your sales reps understand what is expected of them before the first sales call ever takes place. Entrepreneur Magazine suggests creating an agreement and having both you and the sales person sign it. When you take the time to clearly communicate your expectations upfront, it prevents misunderstanding and lost sales later.

Determine the Best Way to Monitor Performance

Part of your agreement with your outside sales reps should include how they report their daily activities and sales. You should set quotas for the day, month and year that each sales person is expected to meet. You can agree to compromise on the type of reporting based on what is most comfortable to each of you. For example, you can request a written daily sales log or the representative can transmit it to you through email or a reporting feature on your company website. Another alternative is to keep a paper log and mail or fax it in at the end of each week.

Make Sure Your Sales Representatives Aren't Engaged in a Conflict of Interest

One of the advantages of being an independent sales representative is the ability to work for more than one client. However, you need to ensure that the person you have selling your company's products and services doesn't sell the same things for your direct competition. It creates a conflict of interest when the representative pits the products and services of more than one company against each other. To avoid this, require your sales reps to disclose all other companies they sell for in the initial agreement. You should also monitor the competition yourself periodically.

Create Attractive Incentives for Your Sales Reps to Perform Well

Some sales people are content to meet their minimum quotas while others are driven to be the best. You can appeal to both types by offering them incentives on top of their regular earnings for making a sale. The person who isn't as driven will realize that just a little extra effort could make a big difference in bonuses and eligibility for potential prizes. Sales people who already perform above expectation will push even harder to be recognized as the top performer. Some ideas for performance bonuses include a vacation with all expenses paid or a new car.

Push Your Sales People to Develop Relationships with Your Best Customers

When a new sales representative starts working for you, give him or her a list of your top customers in every sales territory. You should then encourage your sales reps to spend time building a relationship with these customers. While scouting for new customers is always good, your sales people need to invest time in people and companies that your company depends on for regular business.