When you should work with a field sales agency

Starting your own field team can be daunting. Whether it’s a new product or you’re looking to make a splash in a new vertical or region, deciding whether to start hiring your own team, or outsourcing it to an agency is a decision that could make or break your project.

Last week, I wrote about why you should build your own field team, but this week (and to appease some of my friends) I’m going to hop over the fence and go through the merits of outsourcing this work to an agency. 

You have a very specific mission

For startup brands, the dream is to begin small and scale up over time, however if you have an ambitious goal that requires boots on the ground next week you just won’t have time to interview a small army and educate them all on what they’re selling. 

If you want to be in every gym in the North-East or every bottle shop in Edinburgh, then you’re going to need a massive existing field team, or a field sales agency. 

For brands that are launching in grocery, you can use field sales agencies to check compliance at supermarkets at a faster rate than a small-medium sized field team. Furthermore, you can pay on a per-project basis.

Lee Gray from Strictly Sales & Marketing says you should go with a field sales agency because they’re “pulling on decades of knowledge and relationships we can deliver quicker results than building a team from scratch”. 

The power of relationships

A benefit of having your own team is that you will come to own relationships with decision makers, but on the flipside most agencies and their reps will have much longer and deeper relationships with new stockists. Besides this they’ll also be able to pull from their expertise to instinctively take your product into the stockists who suit your product best. 

It really depends whether you want to build a lasting relationship, or rent a really good one. 

This makes the average quality of the visits much higher. Agency reps can also visit many more locations in a day because they’re not having to build the relationships from scratch. 

Agencies have huge dexterity

“The advantages of using an agency is we are experts at all facets of the industry, whether it be POS, Sales or Merchandising”, says James Bullen from Instore. 

It’s true, if you’ve decided that your drink can do well in the off-trade then your sales team, who’s used to selling to the on-trade will have to learn a whole new kettle of tricks. Luckily, with the agency model you’ll be able to deploy the specialists that your product needs at this moment in time. 

When should you use an agency?

Agencies work when you’ve got a specific mission that’s got a clear return on investment. They’re not going to be the one-stop-shop for brand growth (there’s no silver bullet, remember) – and if you’re looking to find where you fit in the market, hiring a field sales agency could be a convoluted way of going about it. 

However if you’ve found what works for your brand, and you’re willing to invest to scale something that requires a quick hit of boots on the ground, then hiring a field sales agency is a very compelling option.

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