ISO's has existed for almost as long as business has existed. An ISO sales agent offers companies the ability to pay solely based on the sales results achieved. Companies outsource to agents so they can work with sales professionals without the overhead costs of benefits, supplies, and infrastructure. The trade-off, for the sales agent, is the ability to earn more and focus on sales work.
For many, though, the traditional sales agent role leaves them without the support they need to succeed or make a reliable income. The independence from corporate strictures helps but leaves them adrift in the field. ISO's provide a third option, one that helps meet in the middle of independence and support. And these organizations are transforming the options available to the entrepreneurial sales professional.
Traditional Sales Agents
A typical company working with a sales agent has made a calculated decision to reach predictable results and save money. In the United States, companies have minimum requirements they have to provide to legally employ anyone, including a sales team employee. This includes requirements for wages, benefits, and basic working conditions. For their best salespeople, they profit well, but for those not achieving the desired results, the company loses money every day.
Contracting with a sales agent removes the risk for the company. It analyzes its margins for a sale of a product or service and determines what it can pay for each sale and still make the profits it desires. The result is a pure commission payment that, depending on results, can be much more lucrative for the agent than an in-house position would be. And in return, the company shifts any risk of poor performance from itself to the agent which whom it contracts.
The organization contracting with the agent receives professional sales expertise and a predictable revenue model. If the sales agent fails to get results, the company can terminate the relationship and replace the agent. It also maintains strong leverage in setting up the commission structure, allowing it to essentially set the profit margins it wishes to achieve.
How ISO Agents Differ
Operating as a traditional independent agent, then, offers an opportunity for excellent sales professionals to earn more than they could be working as an employee of any given company. But these agents only have so much ability to negotiate better commissions, and they are generally on their own in terms of what they can earn. They are responsible for understanding what they are selling and keeping themselves informed on leads for their sales work and how the products work.
An independent sales organization works differently because it brings independent agents together in a more structured opportunity. The agents retain their independence in terms of setting schedules, managing their contacts, and building out their business. But the ISO gives support for infrastructure needs, collections on accounts, and streamlining of commission payments. The agents thus focus on selling, while the ISO manages other aspects of the business side of the work.
How Partnerships Benefit Agents
In short, a sales agent working within an ISO gains a structure that helps make him or her more efficient over time. In addition, ISO sales agents benefit from available training and technical support--both for the agents who need to learn and understand the products and services they sell and for the agents' customers who need assistance with their purchases.
Traditional sales agents manage all of this themselves. In any given relationship, the agent has to run his or her independent business and invest in the infrastructure required to keep track of contacts, manage their professional accounting, and maintain their business relationships. If they receive complaints after a sale, they either have to handle them or refer them to any client service departments involved. The traditional agent is on the outside and has to do much of the work to connect clients and customers.
ISOs remove much of this burden. An independent sales agent working within an ISO has one point of referral for customer service issues and relies on the ISO to manage much of the business they are running. The result is a focus on making sales and growing income in a more supported environment.
ISO sales agents in either a traditional or ISO setting have the ability to chart their own paths to success. An ISO, though, gives enough structural framework to free its agents to achieve more.