By Ron Sturgeon
It’s the same old story: how do we find good salespeople? First, let’s take a SWAG (sophisticated wild ass guess) at defining what a good one is. The following is a rough list of the attributes of good salespeople:
1. Sells at least $75,000 monthly (This can be much more if your average monthly invoices are high.) I have never seen a yard that is profitable if sales per salesperson is less than $35,000 per month.
2. Has happy customers, credits below the median, and writes credits in a timely manner.
3. Has good attendance and a good attitude.
4. Protects a company’s margins by not just selling on price.
5. Is willing to train and mentor others.
Finding Super Salespeople
So how do we get one, train one, and keep one? Where do they come from? I have seen ex-shoe salespersons sell over $200,000 monthly, and others who appeared competent with good attitudes who, after a year of training, couldn’t sell $25,000 per month.
I am firmly convinced that a salesperson doesn’t have to come from within our industry. If you can hire a good salesperson from within the industry, do so as you should always consider promoting from within. In all cases, some key criteria should be used in hiring, training and evaluating.
If you don’t have written policies pertaining to your sales process, consider putting some together for salespersons. Also, although I have seen strict sales scripting, and no scripting, I am convinced that some folks have the gift needed for this job; others simply don’t.
Please read Marcus Buckingham’s book, First Break All the Rules, which devotes an entire chapter to why scripting does and doesn’t work, and it will provide useful insights into why some folks have what it takes, and others don’t. The book is also helpful in understanding how to have happier employees and what that can mean to your profits.
Make sure that you have a good job description, albeit brief, for all new sales applicants. Some folks use personality testing: I don’t have a strong opinion on its usefulness, however please send me info if you are using personality tests to successfully hire salespeople.
Real Key to Hiring Solid Salespeople?
Make sure that you have some reasonable milestones for the new sales staff, following a week or so of training and tutorials with existing staff. I see people lingering with weak sales personnel six months after they have been hired, hoping they will improve. The gift of gab, quick thinking and other skills necessary to fill a sales position will present themselves within days, certainly within weeks of placement.
If your goal is $100,000 in sales per month as a minimum level of acceptability, $15,000 in the first month simply isn’t going to make it. In the second month, use $26-$35k as a minimum requirement. Set your own minimum milestones and make sure the applicant knows those goals, in advance.
I even prefer to break the goals into weeks as well. For instance, if the second month’s goal is $30k, make the first week $5,500, but the last week $8,500. There is no reason to keep a salesperson whose sales trend isn’t moving upward. When they stall at $30k, they can stay there for months, even years.
Make Changes When Necessary
I recently witnessed an owner of a new yard put someone in place as a salesperson because he thought this person could do the job. After about six weeks, it became obvious that this person just didn’t have what it takes to succeed in the role. The owner got lucky and replaced the weak person with someone who could do the job and had three near-record days in a row.
The moral: We lose a lot of potential sales fooling around with weak salespeople.
Also, all of your salespeople should be on commission; the days of salary are gone. This is one of many areas where I help yard owners become more productive – using pay for performance.
Remember only you can make your business great!
Ron Sturgeon, speaker and author, regularly shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, growing market share, and more, providing his field-proven and high-profit best practices. Reach him at 817-834-3625, ext. 232 or email RonS@MrMissionPossible.com.