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.
2. Focus on Quality
An excellent sourcing agent will spare no efforts in tirelessly searching and talking to the right 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 pre-sales to after-sales service
A sourcing agent’s mission does not end when transfer of order confirmation is made to the supplier. 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 ensure that 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 as a buyer’s colleague
A simple direction that the sourcing consultant needs to work-to is being a colleague to 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 as a supplier’s friend
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. Close 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. Maintaining the buyer’s business secrecy
Information is a matter of utmost importance for business people. When there is joint-work with the buyer, the sourcing agent 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 must be held as absolute business secrets by the sourcing agent in order for the buyers to keep competitiveness in the market.