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Manufacturer sales representatives and Sales Reps in the United States - Practical Advice on how to export to the US and manage a Sales Network of Agents and Representatives in the United States

In the United States, business agents and sales representatives are, in most cases, grouped by associations of independent professionals, where the adjective "independent" refers to the fact that agents and representatives do not work under a single company. They are actually associations gathering self-employed professionals representing different companies and products.

Regardless of the legal form and system governing them, all these associations of professionals are characterized by the fact that they remain independent from the goods manufacturer and act as fully independent from him/her.

In the United States, sales agents and representatives are usually paid a percentage commission on successfully sold goods. No other remuneration is required by law. However, this may also mean that you are free to enter into an agreement of any kind whatsoever, for instance by promising that they will receive bonuses upon reaching certain sales targets, or creating a gradually increasing commission on sales, i.e. with increasing percentages according to the sale target achieved (maybe retroactively calculated, too).

Maximum flexibility is thus ensured both to the manufacturer and sales agents and /or representatives. It is an excellent situation for a company, which has just started exporting to the United States and wants to limit the investment, at least in the early stages.

To choose the sales agents and representatives, whom to entrust with the sale of your products in the United States, you should be very careful since the market is huge and the types of distribution are complicated. Problems belong to two categories for a company wishing to export to the United States:

  • Finding the "right" agents/representatives for your product
    You should select sales agents/representatives who are familiar with the product you want to sell. Our experience allows us to find the sales agents and representatives that are the "right ones" for your product: either because it is a product that they already know, or as they work with the type of retailers that is most suitable for the product, or else because these sales agents/representatives are already dealing with similar products in terms of type and price range.
  • Focusing on the geographical areas of the United States that are most suitable for your product
    The United States is a geographically large market, with a dozen high population density urban centres, followed by 50-70 smaller urban areas, and then some market areas that may be defined as "rural". Selling in the United States means selling in a country that is almost as large as Europe, so you should make sure that the sales forces have no overlapping sales areas.
As usual, a compromise solution needs to be found. What is important is to reach it after due consideration.