Sales partners are legally and economically independent external companies that support a supplier in its sales activities. Sales partners are therefore dealers or intermediaries who sell goods or services on behalf of a third party. A distinction must be made between sales partners that carry out distribution for (1) own account or (2) for the account of a third party.
(1) If a sales partner operates distribution on its own account, he has the authority to make all decisions on pricing independently. The sales partner often receives a sales-related commission for his sales activity. Therefore, the amount of commission is often graded by the supplier according to sales targets (e.g. broker of financial products). If the sales partner acquires ownership of the goods, he is referred to as sales agent. Sales agents who sell the goods directly to the end consumer are usually retailers. If the sales agents sell to commercial companies, they are usually wholesalers.
(2) If a sales partner sells products on behalf of third parties, he usually does not set the prices. The relationship between the supplier as manufacturer and the sales partner is based on a contract called the distributor contract.
A widespread special form in this context is the commercial agent, who is employed by companies to negotiate and conclude contracts. He works for and on behalf of a third party.