What makes a good sales representative?

Published: 01st August 2007
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Not all sales representatives are equal. What makes the difference between a good and a bad sales representative?

Customers' knowledge

A sales representative is first and foremost characterized by its knowledge of its customers. A good sales representative has good customer base and maintains good relationships with all of individual clients. Good sales agents visit their customers or call them regularly. They know their needs and they know how to answer them.

Knowing its customers also means that your sales representative must know the purchasing pattern of their customers. What is the purchasing cycle, who makes decisions along the way? These are a few questions that a good sales representative will know the answers to.

Knowledge of the industry

A good sales representative not only understand each and every individual customer, but it also understands the market as a whole. What is the customer's demand for such and such product, what are the market trends, who are the competitors?

Product knowledge

Your sales representative must also know the product it represents. It can seem obvious but it has numerous consequences. It means for example that in order to sell technical products a sales representative must have a good technical education, good enough to understand its customers' questions and give clear answers.

It also means that a sales representative can be good at selling one product but not good at another product. Some products require technical sales, some others require negotiation capabilities, others require to understand the emotions behind the purchase, and others require a constant presence on the field.

Training a sales representative is crucial. Most companies do not give enough training to their sales representatives. This is a serious mistake because representatives can only be efficient if they answer their customers' needs. A good sales representative must be able to demonstrate a product or give a detailed presentation; it must be able to answer the main questions from the customers; and it must understand its own limits in order to come back to the company it represents and ask for details or answers to questions it has been asked. This capacity at dialoguing with the company it represents is an excellent indication of a good sales representative.

Communication capacities

Communication capacities of a sales representative are crucial. A sales representative is the link between two parties, one selling products and the other one purchasing them. A good sales representative must have the capability to communicate with both parties quickly and efficiently. The representative must bring answers to its customers, but it must also bring answers to the company it represents.


Finding prospects is a good start. But a sales representative must have tenacity. It must follow up with its customers, understand their sales cycles and know when to push. This follow up will make the difference between a sales representative that brings prospects and one that brings purchase orders. And there can be a huge gap between the two.


It is very important for a sales representative to keep the company it represents up to date on its progress. All companies require regular reporting from their inside sales force. This includes new contracts, new offers, follow up of existing prospects, probability to win existing opportunities, and revenue forecasts.

It is normal to require the same level of reporting from independant sales representatives. Unfortunately most companies do not have enough contacts with their sales representatives and do not get detailed reports.

A good representative must define with its principal the level of reporting to provide. Then he must conform to this requirement and send its report by itself, without being asked. It is very frustrating for a company to be forced to ask regularly its sales representatives for reports. Very few give reports by themselves.

Most sales representatives have a very bad reporting. Therefore, a representative that gives regular and complete reports without being asked is very much appreciated.

Reporting can be a determining factor in the long run in the relationship between a company and its sales representative. Any company will prefer a representative that gives regular reports. A sales representative that reports brings less revenue but that gives better reporting can in certain cases be preferred to a representative that does not report on its activities. Managing representatives is crucial for a company.


Customer contact is very important for any company, in order to get feedback on its products, to know about new trends and new customers requests, and to know about new products that customers would like to see. Selling through sales representatives cuts the direct link between a company and its customers. A good sales representative must relay customers concerns and requests to the company it represents. Sales representatives must be opened to discussion and must listen to their clients.

A good sales representative must also report negative comments from the customers. Any company is interested in constructive criticism, which can make products evolve to better serve the customer. Sales representatives must understand customers' criticisms and must provide constructive feedback to the principals.


It is almost obvious that a good sales representative must be reactive. It must answer requests both from its principal and from its customers.


In the end, a sales representative is judged upon its results. A good sales representative is one that adapts to its customers and knows how to get the order. Certain sales representatives practices can be surprising, especially in foreign countries. But the sale representative must be the one who decides how to interact with its customers to sell the products it represents.

Video Source: Youtube

John on September 6, 2011 said:
I loved the video really creased me up.
Adrian Lawrence on September 6, 2011 said:
Lack of product knowledge is a the biggest downfall for most sales reps, once a customer begins to see gaps in a sales reps understanding then their confidence begins to slip quickly.
Penny on September 14, 2011 said:
Sales representatives must be confident both in themselves and the job they are doing. Thys must believe or at least lead the customer to think they believe in what they are tryign to sell. They must have answers to all quaestions a customer may ask them.

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