In today’s international market there is a large number of organizations that rely heavily on sourcing operations in order to reduce their overall production costs and up the quality and consistency of their end-products. Not only this, but it helps firms to lower the costs involved with production and their services, thus attracting even more potential customers. That being said, the sourcing process isn’t quite as easy as you might imagine. As such, it’s not uncommon for organizations to outsource these requirements to professional sourcing agents.
There are many sourcing agents available on the market today and they come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, before rushing in and hiring them, one must probe into their domain expertise and overall level of professionalism to gauge their competency. This will give you an idea as to whether any of your shortlisted sourcing agents are fit to handle your requirements and identify which will bring the most value to your business.
The best sourcing agents possess a number of certain qualities, such as accountability and trustworthiness (to name a few). In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the qualities that make a good sourcing agent. That way, you will be better positioned to find the perfect sourcing agent to help drive your business forward.
What characteristics make a quality sourcing agent?
Let’s take a look at some of the necessary characteristics a good sourcing agent must have:
- Trustworthy: above all, a sourcing agent must be trustworthy. As the demand for quality sourcing agent’s increases, the more would-be sourcing agents appear, trying to secure your business. Approach each prospective sourcing agent with careful consideration and watch out for those who try to charge hidden commissions. Don’t panic: spotting an equitable sourcing agent won’t be too difficult.
- Open communication: Take note of whether your sourcing agent may be handing you misleading information regarding your potential suppliers. The best and most professional sourcing agents will have connections with reputable suppliers all over the world. They must not hide supplier information from you (i.e., employee strength, market performance, reputation, registration information, product original price, business type, etc.).
- A focus on quality: Another quality that good sourcing agents must demonstrate is being quality-focused. Sourcing agents must adopt every method available to them in order to put the buyer in touch with the best possible suppliers available. As you may not be fully aware of the economic and political scenario of the sourcing destination is question it helps to double-check a sourcing agents experience, official registration details, technical standards, and so on.
- Accountable: The sourcing agent’s role doesn’t end upon transfer. They are responsible for the follow up of production and the shipment of goods. Any problems with trouble-shooting and all other teething issues that may arise are the sole responsibility of the sourcing agent and they must be held accountable. The best sourcing agents will coordinate with suppliers in this regard, arranging returns and ensuring that all refunds adhered to the terms of the initial contract laid out.
- Friendly: It is important that a sourcing agent is able to maintain friendly terms with both you and your suppliers. Their approach must clearly be driven by your interests. Having bilingual experts, a thorough understanding of the various cultural etiquettes, and a knowledge of supplier information is a must.
- Excellent inter-personal skills: What is your first impression of a prospective sourcing agent like? Do they have good inter-personal skills? As they will be tasked with representing your business when dealing with new suppliers it is paramount that they possess excellent inter-personal skills. The key to a successful relationship with a sourcing agent is heavily dependent on their ability to build and maintain solid relationships with others – including you.
- Organised: There is much red tape and bureaucracy involved with the product sourcing process and a sourcing agent must be highly organised if they are to bring genuine value to your business. It is not your responsibility to keep on top of everything when you are paying for a sourcing agent to handle this aspect of your business. How good are they at time-keeping? Do they strike you as being organised during the initial negotiation process?
- A good team player: Sourcing agents are required to work well with others. They should be an extension of your business, rather than simply someone that you are outsourcing certain business requirements to. A good sourcing agent will be able to work well in a team and thrive with both you and your suppliers.
- A keen eye for detail: As part of a sourcing agent’s obligations, quality control is crucial. As such, a good sourcing agent must have a keen eye for detail when it comes to inspecting production quality and ensuring that the end-products that make it to your customers are of the highest possible caliber.
- Transparency: Transparency is another must when it comes to finding a good sourcing agent. This ties in rather closely with trustworthiness, but it is easy to spot a good sourcing agent from the get go as they will be transparent about absolutely everything and thus outlay their expectations from the get go.
If you are aiming for the greatest success in your sourcing operations, then finding the best sourcing agent is an absolute must. With the help of a quality and reputable sourcing consultant you will be able to formulate an effective sourcing strategy and put it into practice. Make sure that when you are seeking help from prospective sourcing agents, that you look for all of the qualities listed above. Take your time, give the process careful thought and consideration and you shouldn’t run into too many problems. Good luck!