If anyone advises you never to hire a sourcing agent, because they are infamous for lack of loyalty and professionalism, he is probably only referring to some isolated events, or simply shifting your attention to something else he promotes. You can disprove him by showing how to find a really good one. It is same as you need time to find a good product, you also need efforts and wisdom to find a good sourcing agent. Below are 6 top qualities you need to check on a sourcing agent.
A buyer should note trustworthiness is the first and foremost quality when it comes to the selection of a sourcing agent. If you work with a dishonest sourcing agent, you will never be aware that your sourcing agent is actually ripping you off by secretly asking the supplier for hidden commission or kickback while appearing to offer low or even “free” sourcing service. A professional sourcing agent, however, persistently makes it the golden rule that no information about the supplier should be hidden or faked to the buyer including number of employees, market performance, reputation, registration information, real business type, product original price, etc. Without this, the buyer’s plan of getting better price and services by entrusting a sourcing consultant is totally ruined, in other words, the buyer is simply dealing with another trader.
An excellent sourcing agent should spare no efforts in tirelessly searching and talking to the optional suppliers instead of stopping the efforts too early before finding out the best choices. Careful research should be carried out on the official registration details, business type, year of establishment, production capacity, engineering capability and technical standards to ensure the required products can be made with ideal standard and quality. Additionally, once a supplier is chosen by the buyer, a good sourcing agent should take the time to go to the factory in person to check the assembly lines, warehouse, quality control standards, etc and provide the latest information and analysis to the buyer with photos, meeting minutes, written reports for the client’s evaluation and decision-making.
3. Accountability from presales to aftersales Service
A sourcing agent’s mission does not end when the transfer is made. He should take the responsibility to follow up the production and shipment of the goods, coordinate with the suppliers to offer technical support for trouble-shooting, and assist in arranging the returns and refund according to the terms and agreement between the two parties. This concern can be hugely worthy of consideration when a buyer deals with a technically unsound trader or a factory where no one speaks English, especially when it comes to industrial products, timely, in-depth and effective communication between the sourcing consultant and the engineers are essential to ensuring the products work ideally to meet the consumers’ expectations. So the buyers can dedicate themselves as being professional, answerable and reputable in their home market and keep their business blooming.
4. Be a colleague of the buyer
A simple direction that the sourcing consultant needs to work to is being a colleague of the buyer. He is supposed to fully represent the buyer’s interest in the business operations, that is, he is just a bilingual colleague of the buyer working in the procurement/buying office. In the course of the business negotiation or technical communication, the sourcing agent needs to find out the information, if any, that the suppliers wish to hide from the buyer and report it to his client in a timely manner yet also in a suitable occasion. In such situations, however, the sourcing agent should not make the decision without the buyer’s knowledge, instead, the decision of how to respond still is left with the buyer to consider.
5. Be a friend to the suppliers
In some countries, business culture is closely associated with relationship and connections. Some business people are inclined to offer more favorable terms to whom they are closer with or whom they find more intimate. Therefore, together with the buyer, the sourcing agent should work to enhance the relationship with the suppliers, instead of always exerting pressure on them. Closer business ties does good to the likelihood of the supplier’s better care of the production, delivery and service. For example, if the buyer finds it necessary, the sourcing agent can pass the gifts to the supplier to enhance the business relationship between the two parties.
6. Protect the buyer’s business secrets
Information is a matter of utmost importance to business people. In the course of the joint work with the buyer, the sourcing consultant is exposed to considerable amount of information including products, price, design, components, technologies and suppliers. Whatever the buyer does not wish anyone else to know, everything should be held as absolute business secrets by the sourcing agent to in order for the buyers to keep competitiveness in the market.