How to Choose an Agent for Export

When appointing an agent, a good starting point is to assess your view of the “ideal” agent. His or her appearance, the words they use, their behaviour; is this someone we feel we could work with?

We have asked hundreds of exporting companies to comment on the qualities they believe are important in an “Ideal” agent and their views can be summarised as follows:

  1. Loyal
  2. Well Connected
  3. Professional
  4. Knowledgeable
  5. Honest
  6. Focused
  7. Business Fit
  8. Proactive
  9. Partnership
  10. Relationship
  11. Communicator
  12. Trustworthy/truthful
  13. Well resourced
  15. Respected
  16. Realistic
  17. Presentable
  18. Solvent
  19. Shared “ethos”
  20. Good track record

But finding the right agent isn’t just about personality and skills. It also means choosing the right type of agent. Here’s a summary:

Types of Agent

  • Commission Agent

Receives a commission payment from the seller (in ••return for the introduction it provided between seller and buyer leading to the sale). This is the most common type of agent

  • Stocking Agent

Receives and holds goods as consignment stock but still ••does not have title to the goods

  • Servicing Agent

Provides a servicing/maintenance facility on behalf of the principal

Legal Definitions

  • Exclusive – the whole market is covered by one agent
  • Non Exclusive – several different agents operating in one market
  • Sole agent – an agent + key accounts. There’s one agent for the market but certain key accounts are excluded. The reasons for this could be that the principal already has close contacts with the client(s), that the buying decision is made in another country, or there are Pan-European or global prices in place for certain clients.

This article is an adapted extract from Exporting Made Easy by Simon Bedford and Giles Dixon