General Sales Agents

GSAThis week I addressed the issue of General Sales Agents (GSA).

In general, the GSA is a very good idea. If you cannot afford your own staff, why not share with other companies just as yours? There are two major hurdles:

1. In many cases, the GSA is considered a “second class employee”, as they only spend a part of their time on your product. My recommendation: Have the key people (reservations, sales) invited within four weeks to your location to get familiar with your product, philosophy and work style. Have them meet the decision makers personally they need to have contact to. This will not only motivate them, but also make them truly represent you in their respective markets. Repeat this frequently. Your GSA sales representative(s) usually should be invited to attend your sales meetings. I have seen results by thus motivated staff, that exceeded the results of an entire airline office in another market. And listen to them. Their prime interest is (or should be) to increase your revenue and make your product sales stable.

2. In other cases, GSAs work on a “minimized effort” scheme. Instead of sharing the resources properly, they try to tweak the last dollar out of you, until you recognize they just drain you. Ensure to have an as close contact to their sales teams as you have to your own. Ensure to have a clear manpower commitment. It is reasonable for a GSA sales person to have three or four, either similar or complementing products. I have seen cases where one person was asked to fully represent six or more products.
That might work, if the products are complementary, but that is not the common case.
Assure to have your GSA benefit fair from all sales in their region. In that case they are interested to support you to spread your distribution channels. Otherwise they will try to keep all dropping through their office, limiting the market awareness.

So GSA can be a very good thing, there are many very good and motivated GSAs out there working 150% in their client’s interests. But ensure that the principal and the GSA work on the same goals. Set targets. Find a GSA that has experience in your market. Not only the branch, but also the global region. Ethics, work style, etc. do differ.

The GSA is not a panacea. They need reasonable funding. But usually, you can pay them a base fee covering their normal operations, with marketing funds depending on the revenue they generate. But check what interest they have to sell you!

If you have questions or wish to select a GSA in Europe, ask me. And if you want to build your team and seek experts for sales, business development, reservations, etc., let me know, there are some good out there seeking a decent job 😀

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