Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Attn: Sales Managers - Firing and Hiring Season Has Officially Opened

You are the Sales Manager for a modular home factory. It’s the first business day of 2017 and you sit at your desk with a pile of problems left over from last year facing you. If you're lucky, the pile is manageable but since the first day of the work week is actually Tuesday, how lucky do you think you will be?

If I were a gambling man I’d bet that most of those problems are sales rep related and not construction or upper management problems. Builders calling about their sales rep not returning calls. A sales rep handing you another problem that they could have prevented in the first place or worse, a problem the sales rep created and tried to cover it up or blame someone else.

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At any point, you, the Sales Manager, probably have at least one or two reps that you wish would pack their bags and leave so you wouldn’t have to fire them. And if you do fire them, who will take over their territory and builders? You? Not likely.

And finding great sales reps -- reps with the ability to take your business to the next level -- is awfully hard to do. How can you possibly size up a sales candidate in a series of interviews? How can you really know how hard a complete stranger is willing to work, how he responds under pressure, how he handles adversity? How can you evaluate his/her creativity, organizational skills, and ability to learn and adapt to ever-changing modular construction situations?

It’s not easy, which is why sales recruiting and training usually becomes an exceedingly expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Here are a few ways to recruit sales talent that may ease the burden considerably:

1. Hire Smart
A manager I knew who ran a very successful building supplies business in State College, PA always hired the smartest people he could find. His sales force included former college professors, CPAs, and anybody who did anything as long as they were off-the-charts brilliant. The store was located only one mile from Penn State University. His attitude was, people smart enough to split atoms could learn how to sell lumber and drywall. It worked.

2. I’ll Take It! – and You
When you open your wallet, open your eyes to the recruiting opportunity! Over the years you’ve encountered many star sales reps that were hired because they sold something to you. The person who impresses the hell out of you while selling you a car, a pair of shoes, or an insurance policy could be your next superstar.

3. Eat It Up
Waiters and waitresses often have sales talent that they themselves aren’t even aware of. Restaurant staffers deal with every type of person under the sun, think on their feet literally and figuratively, juggle problems, provide stellar service, and work extremely hard. These are all very important attributes of successful sales reps. In addition, people in these jobs are usually money-motivated, which helps enormously in a commission sales environment.

4. Have a Little Class
Similarly, the teaching profession is a veritable galaxy of potential sales stars. Excellent teachers have patience, communication skills, and exemplary persuasive powers. They can apply those rare skills to selling complex products and services, and make five times a teacher’s income -- to say nothing of what they can do to transform your business.

5. The Builder Is Sometimes Right
Companies always think about turning prospects into approved builders … but how about turning builders into sales reps? A good builder genuinely likes you and values what you do. These are terrific “intangible” assets for any sales rep -- but can take years for a new hire to acquire. And, a builder understands the modular construction business and can talk about your homes and services from the builder’s perspective. Can you think of a stronger sales pitch than, “I liked buying from ACME Home Systems so much I decided to devote my career to selling for them”? In sales, it’s not always what you say or even how you say it, it’s who’s saying it that really counts.

Your New Year’s resolution is first to take a hard look at your sales staff and then decide if you need to replace a sales rep or keep moving forward with the staff you already have. If the need is to replace a sales rep or hire an additional rep, take a minute and go back and read this article again. And again and again until you find that gem you have always suspected was out there.

1 comment:

PA Sales Manager said...

It's like you saw my desk. I have that very decision to make this month and I'm not looking forward to it. I will be looking over the list and maybe I can attract someone from one of them to join us.