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Five Steps to Make Your Sales Business Irresistible to Candidates

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Hiring commission only sales representatives is a challenging process, and much of that comes down to finding the right people and motivating them in the proper way. Before you start recruiting sales people, follow these five steps to help you attract the best sales talent:

  • Offer Incentives and Rewards to Motivate Sales Candidates
  • Get Proper Sales Support Systems in Place
  • Get Fair Sales Commission Terms and Payments in Place
  • Create a Simple Screening and Interviewing Process
  • Know What You’re Looking For in a Sales Rep

 

Time To Hire says: We recommend following all of these steps, but any improvement you make will ease the sales recruitment process.

 

Offer Incentives and Rewards to Motivate Sales Candidates

Keep your salespeople happyThe pool of high-performing commission only sales reps is very competitive, and you want to hire the best for your business. Find out what your competitors are offering and offer a higher commission.  Think about additional incentives like training, use of company equipment, paid vacations, and more.

Offer trips to exotic locations or other rewards for your highest performing commission sales people.  Most sales reps will want to make at least $100,000 a year, so make sure your sales process supports this. Better incentives and rewards now will drive higher sales and more qualified leads for your business.

 

Time To Hire says: Remember, it’s not always all about money. There are plenty of other ways to motivate your salespeople.

 

Get Proper Sales Support Systems in Place

As a commission only sales rep, you’re only making money when you’re selling. Because of this, selling is the only thing your salespeople want to do. The last thing they want to spend time on is complex sales systems or endless paperwork.

Take a look at your sales systems and technology and make sure it’s streamlined to be as fast and easy to use as possible. This includes CRM software to manage and track clients, prospects, and sales. Invoicing software to quickly raise and send requests for payment, time tracking, and more. Even if you have a short sales cycle, review and refine your systems as much as possible.

Ask your existing sales reps and teams what changes they’d like to see to make their lives easier.

 

Time To Hire says: Asking your existing salespeople is definitely the best way to find out what could work better. They deal with technology and sales processes every day, and can give you some great insight into what could be improved.

 

Get Fair Sales Commission Terms and Payments in Place

How short is your sales cycle?  Commission salespeople need to get paid as quickly as possible, ideally every week. If you have a long sales cycle, it’s sometimes best to pay a small base salary to motivate your sales representatives. Is your product or service easy to sell? If it’s not, and your sales teams need to spend weeks and months building relationships, provide interim payments or some other type of benefit to your staff.

 

Create a Simple Screening and Interviewing Process

If you want to make hiring salespeople easy, it’s good to have a simple, repeatable method you follow. We recommend:

  • An initial 2-3 minute phone call that will answer their basic questions; if you’re both satisfied…
  • A follow-up call of 10-15 minutes so you can ask questions and screen them properly; if they pass that…
  • An invitation to interview, face-to-face

 

Time To Hire says: Because finding the right salespeople is tough, we’ve created a guide to putting an effective hiring and sales recruitment system in place.

 

Know What You’re Looking For in a Sales Rep

It’s difficult to bottle lightning, and it can be tough to understand who will end up being a sales superstar, and who will be an “also ran.” Sales success comes down to several different factors:

  • Drive and determination – How driven are your salespeople?
  • Incentives – Are you motivating your sales reps properly?
  • Training – Are you providing the right training and guidance to help people sell?
  • Experience – Have your salespeople and teams sold similar products and services elsewhere?
  • Skills – Do your staff have the right negotiation and other skills to land a sale quickly and effectively?
  • Raw talent – What natural talents do your best salespeople share?

 

The best way to see what’s happening in your business is to look at common traits and areas that your most successful sales reps have in common. Look at step 4 in this guide to find out how to do that.

 

Time To Hire says: Identifying common factors and trends does take time and effort, but once you understand the most effective sales tactics, you can share them with your new and existing sales reps.

 

We can help you hire with confidence. Get in touch with us now, and we’ll get your phone ringing with qualified sales reps in as few as two days.

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People

How to Cope When Your Sales Prospects Say “No”

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Getting turned down when you’re trying to close a sale is tough – Don’t let that stop you making the next sales call. Remember, every part of sales from getting a lead to making a deal is a numbers game. Only those that persevere will survive.

As a commission only sales representative, rejection can be difficult to deal with, especially if you’re new to the sales market. If you want to make it, you need to:

  • Be confident in your own abilities.
  • Understand that it’s difficult to get potential customers to say “Yes.”
  • Have the emotional resilience to deal with rejection.
  • Not let hearing “No” repeatedly damage your enthusiasm or confidence.

worried manIn short, don’t lose the drive to continue making sales calls, chase down leads, or close sales deals. Your business hired you as their sales rep, and that was for a good reason. You have the potential to negotiate and close a sale, but remember – It’s all a numbers game.

Don’t let “No” paralyze you into inaction – It can impact your drive to continue making sales calls. The result is a negative effect on you and on the sales business’s bottom line. That’s not why they recruited you as their sales rep.

Time To Hire says: Even the most prepared and top performing commission sales reps still hear rejections on a regular basis, and many of them have difficulty dealing with it – You’re not alone.

 

What You Can Do to Improve Your Sales, Profit, and Commission

The best sales organizations invest in training and development to give their commission sales reps the right expertise to close a deal. Powerful sales processes, carefully crafted pitch scripts, and rebuttal techniques can significantly improve the chances of you making the sale. Ask your business if they have these useful tools, and if not ask if they’re going to develop them.

Why prospects don’t buy

There are many reasons why sales prospects don’t buy including:

  • Lack of time
  • An unwillingness to commit
  • Other things on their mind
  • Concerns about cost, cash flow or budget constraints
  • Other pressing matters
  • And more. 

Even people and businesses who could obviously benefit from a product or service will say “no” more often than they say “yes”. It’s a simple business reality, and great salespeople understand it’s not a reflection on them. If you want to become a great salesperson, the sooner you realize this, the better.

In fact, the biggest difference between top sales and average sales (especially commission only) depends on how well individuals and sales teams deal with rejection. Skills, experience, processes, and preparation are important, but it’s attitude and toughness that will help you more than anything else.

When do prospects buy?

Time To Hire says: While closing rates differ across industries, studies reveal that only about 2% of deals are actually closed during the first contact.

These 2% of prospects who buy at a first meeting are people who have already done their research and know exactly what they’re looking for. It’s often a matter of luck if you place a sales call to the right people at the right time.

The remaining 98% of your potential clients only buy:

  • Once trust has been built.
  • The need for the product or service has been demonstrated.
  • The clear benefits of the product or service are understood.
  • The idea of buying has moved up on their prospects priority list.

80% of sales only happen after at least five follow-ups calls or meetings. On average it takes at least five contacts before a prospect ever says “Yes”. Here’s the statistics behind why you need to persevere:

  • 44% of commission sales reps give up after hearing “No” once.”
  • 22% more give up after hearing “No” twice.
  • 14% more give up after hearing “No” three times.
  • 12% more give up after hearing “No” four times.

Time To Hire says: Astonishingly, only 8% of salespeople contact their prospect five times. If you’re in that 8%, you’ve got a huge advantage over other commission only sales reps.

 

Five Tips to Help You Deal With Rejection and Close the Sales Deal

Your ego is not important

Understand that prospects have their own set of problems, receive sales calls routinely and have trained themselves that “No” is always the right first answer. Don’t see their rejection personally, it’s simply a learned response.

Knowledge is vital

Salespeople must give themselves every advantage. This means knowing your business’s  products and services inside and out. More importantly, you also need to understand your prospect’s issues and pain points. When you can demonstrate how your products and services can solve their problems, that’s a great start to a conversation.

Learn the metrics

Learn what your average industry statistics are for making and closing sales, so you can see how you’re doing. Set your expectations around those measurements and aim to beat them.

Follow the sales processes

Your business should have techniques, methods, and playbooks for making sales. Understand and follow the processes your sales business has created to increase your chances of a successful sale.

Ask for more training and support

If you want to hone your skills further, ask if there’s more in-house training, guides, or mentorship available to help you develop.

Don’t freestyle

Just because you’ve been a successful salesperson in another industry, that doesn’t mean the same tactics will work in your current sales position.

Follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up

Remember, follow up at least five times to close a sale – Persevere.

Time To Hire says: Hall of Fame baseball players only have a .300 batting average, which means they fail 70% of the time (and they certainly don’t quit the game after striking out a few times). You’ve got the potential to be a great salesperson.

 

If you’re a sales manager, let us help you hire the best sales reps. Whether you need a sales team or just the right commission only sales person, we can help.

 

Posted in: Sales Tips

Create Great Online Job Postings to Attract Sales Reps

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Job postings are often boring, uninspired and even spammy, so they don’t attract the highest quality commission only sales reps. If you want to make it easier to recruit the right type of salespeople, it’s worth learning how to create better job postings.

The Danger of the “generic” Ad

We all know what a generic job ad looks like:

“Blue Widget Co is seeking motivated door to door salespeople in us in a fast-paced, challenging work environment. The ideal candidate will have strong interpersonal skills and work as part of a team. You will be expected to:

  • Generic task description A
  • Generic task description B

Etc.

Since you’re paying for your job ads, you want it to stand out as much as possible, and get high-quality sales candidates to contact you. These generic ads do the opposite – They’re easily overlooked and fade into the background. How can you prevent that? It’s simple:

  • Start with the job description.
  • Take the key duties, roles, responsibilities, and skills for your salespeople from the job description.
  • Use the right language and approach.
  • Inject some personality into the job advert.
  • Describe the one main thing the job role does and the value it adds.
  • See examples of good and bad job advert writing.
  • Use clear, original headings and good formatting.
  • Add in duties, skills, and any other information.
  • Get ready to hire the right salespeople.
Job application salesperson

Start With the Job Description

Some people think that job descriptions and job adverts are the same thing and they can both help you hire sales people – They’re not. In our last article, we explained how to create job descriptions for the various sales rep roles in your business.

It’s important to understand that job descriptions are an internal document. They’re designed to tell your sales reps what’s expected of them when they’re hired.

Time to Hire says: You shouldn’t copy the text from a job description and use it “as is” on a recruitment website.

Instead, think of the job description as something you can base your sales job ad on. You’ll certainly want to refer to the main areas of the job description, but you’ll also want to tweak and refine the copy in your job ad so it attracts the best commission only sales candidates.

 

Take the Key Duties, Roles, Responsibilities, and Skills from the Job Description

Go through the job description and copy the key areas you’ll need in the job advert. These are the qualities you actually want to hire salespeople for, and the skills, experience, and approach you want from the perfect candidate.

 

Use the Right Language and Approach

It’s vital to use the right language when you’re writing a job advert, here are some tips:

  • Address the person reading the ad directly – Use terms like “You” and “Us” rather than “the candidate” or “the company.” This makes your ad more immediate and relatable.
  • Avoid technical wording and jargon – Steer clear of sales industry specific wording, acronyms, technical terms, or anything that’s not easy to understand.
  • Be very specific – Rather than describing broad areas, duties, sales skills, and responsibilities, be as specific as you can.
  • Keep it brief – Remove any extra, unneeded words from the job advert.

 

Inject Some Personality

Don’t think that all sales job adverts have to be incredibly formal. Inject some personality and maybe even a little humor into the writing. Think about the values and principles of your business and your salespeople – Try to bring these out in the job description.

Time to Hire says: This will help to make sure the people who apply like the tone and culture of your business.

 

Describe the One Main Thing the Job Role Does and the Value it Adds

At the top of your job advert, you’re going to describe the job role in terms of the one thing it does best. This should be focused on the value it adds to your sales business, and expressed in a simple, inspirational way. For example:

“If you know how to delight customers and keep them coming back, we want you to join us. As our Senior Customer Account Manager, you’re going to get to know our clients really well. You’ll use this knowledge, together with a bright, positive attitude, and your wide range of customer management skills to support them, every day.”

 

Examples of Good and Bad Job Advert Writing

Here are some examples of “before” and “after” wordings from job adverts:

  • Bad: Seeking a candidate with excellent interpersonal skills to respond to and deal with customer issues via telephone, email, and online reporting.
  • Good: You’re going to be talking to customers. A lot. You’ll sort out their issues and leave them delighted, because you’re brilliant at customer service.
  • Bad: Responsible for growing business and bringing new customers into the company via following up on leads.
  • Good: You’ll get a great understanding of our products and pitch them to major retail clients and buyers. You’ll bring out the benefit of our products and be comfortable presenting them to anyone from senior execs to junior buyers.
  • Bad: Expert graphic design skills, able to turn concepts into marketing collateral.
  • Good: You know Photoshop and Illustrator, and you’re not afraid to use them. You’ll talk to our marketing people, grasp their ideas and turn them into beautiful designs for our website, product packaging, and more.

 

Use Clear, Original Headings and Good Formatting

Don’t be afraid to use different types of headings in the advert. Instead of saying “Duties” and “Sales Skills,” you could say: “What you’ll be doing” and “What you’re good at.”

Use clear headings to break the job advert up into logical sections. Use short, simple, concise sentences to explain each area. Bullet points and numbered lists will make your ad easier to scan and understand.

  • Make sure you use plenty of white space and avoid long walls of text. Get your ad proofread to remove any spelling, typos, or grammatical errors.
  • Add in duties, skills, and any other information.
  • Go through the original job description and make sure you’ve captured the major areas, duties, skills, and expectations in the job advert. Go through each of the points above to make sure you’re writing the advert in the best possible way.
  • When you’re finished, go through and edit it to remove any extra words, keep it punchy, and make sure it has personality. Review the advert with your peers and incorporate their feedback.

 

Get Ready to Hire

Time to Hire says: How you’re ready to post the advert on various job recruitment websites. Publish it, and get ready to hire.

Want us to find the best commission only sales reps on your behalf and reduce your time to hire?  Get in touch now.

Posted in: Advertising Sales Reps, Recruiting

Write a Great Job Description for Your Salespeople

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If you want your sales business to succeed, it’s vital that everyone in your organization knows what’s expected of them. When you understand what your business needs, and you can express that clearly, it helps all of your sales reps and other staff to move in the same direction.

Creating a sales job descriptionOne of the most effective ways of doing this is to create clear, comprehensive job descriptions for every position in your business, including your sales representatives. Once you’ve recruited a sales rep, it’s important to give them access to their job description so you’re all working to a common goal.

If you don’t have job descriptions in place already, it can take some time and effort to set them up. It’s worth doing though, as job descriptions set expectations with your staff, let them know what their responsibilities are, and can also help to create the objectives you want them to meet.

If you do already have job descriptions written, this advice can help you tweak and refine them so they’re as effective as possible.

Time to Hire says: Don’t let the time and energy you need to spend creating job descriptions put you off. A good set of sales job descriptions will help everyone understand what’s expected of them, resulting in better business for you.

 

What exactly is a job description?

A job description is a document that sets out what you want from the specific roles and positions in your business. Job descriptions apply to roles, not to the specific person filling that role. A job description normally contains the following:

  • The name of the role.
  • The level of the role (e.g. junior, managerial, executive).
  • A high-level view of what the job role does / key accountabilities.
  • The duties and responsibilities of the role, normally divided by area.
  • The skills and competencies needed in the role.

They can also contain the following optional information:

  • Pay grade and salary range, including a split between salary and commission sales.
  • The department that the job role is in.
  • Performance standards (very important for commission only sales reps).

 

How do job descriptions and objectives work together?

Job descriptions and objectives aren’t the same thing, although they are related to each other. A job description is specific to a particular role (e.g. a junior, commission only sales rep), whereas objectives are specific to a person in that role (Peter Boone, Senior Sales Recruitment Manager).

Time to Hire says: Objectives often come from job descriptions – Reading through the roles, responsibilities, and requirements and then creating targets and goals around each one.

This means job descriptions shouldn’t contain objectives or specific targets, since you’ll want to tailor objectives to the skills, abilities, and development of each individual in your business. For example:

  • A job description might say: “Increase the turnover of Blue Widget Co. by pitching our products and services to major retail clients.”
  • An objective for a person in that role might say: “Increase the sales of Blue Widget Co. by 10% over the next 12 months by pitching our products to at least 2 major retail clients a month.”

 

Writing a job description

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing an effective job description:

  • Write the job title and level.
  • Decide on the main accountability areas of the role.
  • For each accountability area, describe the specific duties of the role.
  • Describe the skills and competencies needed for the role.
  • Add any optional information that’s needed.

 

Write the job title and level

All job descriptions should start off with the job title, and the level it works at. For example: “Door to door sales rep, level 1.” If you want, you can also add what  position the job role reports into. For example: “Reporting to the Head of Sales.”

 

Decide on the main accountability areas for the role

You already have a good understanding of what you want your business to achieve, and how the various roles support your aims. The next step in writing a job description is to think about the main areas of responsibility for the role. These are not specific duties (we’ll cover that in the next step), but the main areas that the job role influences. For example:

  • Increase sales.
  • Meet with clients.
  • Create sales materials.
  • Manage customer accounts.
  • Preparing correspondence.

Time to Hire says: You should aim for three to five main accountability areas.

 

For each accountability area, describe the specific duties of the role

Brainstorm all of the main duties associated with each area. Review and consolidate them into one or two duty statements for each accountability area. These duties are the heart of the job description:

  • They should accurately describe exactly what’s expected in the role.
  • They can be used to build objectives off of later on.
  • They should be specific to the role, not to an individual.

For example, under the “Increase Sales” area, you could have the following:

  • Generate leads through cold calling, following up on previous calls, and networking.
  • Produce competitive quotes and proposals to meet customer needs.

You should use “action verbs” (create, generate, build, etc.) at the start of each duty. You can follow this with a concise sentence that covers the essential elements of what the role needs to do.

Time to Hire says: Avoid jargon and business buzzwords wherever you can.

 

Describe the skills and competencies needed for the role

Once you’ve got all your duty statements in place, describe the key skills, experience, and competencies that someone performing the role needs to have. This can include technical experience, training, interpersonal skills, qualifications, and soft skills. For example:

  • Experienced with Microsoft Office, especially Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Excellent negotiation and influencing skills.
  • Certificate in Agile project management.
  • Skilled at developing and providing feedback on new products and services.

Cover all of the most important skills that a typical person needs to carry out the role successfully.

 

Add any optional information that’s needed

Your job description is almost done. Before you finish it, think about if you want to add any optional information. This might include:

  • The salary range and pay grade, including commission if appropriate.
  • Any specific performance standards – These are the expectations of the role, based on how you expect everything to work. It could include statements like:
  • Prepared to work with a minimum of supervision.
  • Must be an excellent communicator.
  • Comfortable presenting to audiences of varying seniority.
  • Hints and tips.

Finally, here are some hints and tips to polish your job descriptions even more:

  • Keep job descriptions concise and punchy. Never use three words when one will do.
  • Share job descriptions with your peers and senior sales managers and get their feedback on what the job description should (and shouldn’t) contain.
  • Use job descriptions to help you create specific objectives for your people.
  • Use job descriptions to create advertisements for recruitment websites. We’ll cover the best way to do that in a future article.

Job descriptions can help when you’re hiring salespeople and sales teams. They can be very useful when you’re putting a sales team together to make sure you’ve covered off all the sales roles and responsibilities.

Putting together job descriptions can be a time consuming process, but it helps everyone in your business work to the same standards. Spending some effort on creating concise, effective job descriptions will improve how you manage your people, set objectives, and ensure everyone is performing to the standards you need.

We’re experts at finding the right sales reps. Get in touch now to find out how we can help you.

Posted in: Recruiting

Set Clear Objectives for your Commission Sales Reps

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One of the most challenging areas for an employer other than hiring sales people is managing your commission only sales reps effectively. It’s not just about how well they do their jobs, it’s about making sure their roles support where you want your sales business to go. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to bring everything together and get your people working towards the right goals and sales objectives:

  • Establish what you want your business to achieve in the near- and mid-future.
  • Prioritize what you want to do, especially around sales.
  • Turn these goals into overall business objectives.
  • Give a subset of the objectives to your managers.
  • Give a subset of the manager’s objectives to your sales staff, aligned with their job roles.
  • Track progress towards the objectives on a regular basis.
  • Reward staff who meet or exceed their objectives.

 

Time to Hire says: This process does take some time and effort to put in place, but it can make some big differences to your sales business. When you get all of your commission sales reps moving in the same direction, you’ll give everyone a common sense of purpose and increase your turnover and profits.

 

Step 1 – Establish What You Want Your Business to Achieve

sales business successThe whole process starts by you deciding what you want your business to achieve in the next one to three years. Go through each aspect of your business, look at historic results, and think about realistic sales and other goals you want to achieve.

Although you’ll be using your one year goals to set objectives for your people, you should do this with a longer-term view in mind. Think about where you see your business in three years and start putting things in place now to get there. Areas of your business you will want to think about include:

 

  • Increasing sales, turnover and profit.
  • Improving the way you find and recruit salespeople.
  • Reducing the turnover of commission only sales reps.
  • Increasing the number of leads, prospects, and customers.
  • Developing or distributing new products and services.
  • Reducing your costs.
  • Enhancing your marketing.
  • Improving your HR processes for sales teams, canvassers, and individuals.
  • Managing administration and finances.
  • Projects like enhancing your sales hiring process, creating good sales training, and enhancing your interview process when you’re looking for good sales reps.

 

Go through every area of your business and think about the specific improvements you want to see and write down everything you want to achieve.

Time to Hire says: Create an exhaustive list – It’s fine if it has 20 or more items on it.

 

Step 2 – Prioritizing What You Want to Do

By the time you’re finished with step one, you’ll have a long list. The next step is to prioritize your overall goals so you can focus your salespeople on the most important areas. Go through every goal and decide:

  • How urgent is it? – How soon does this need to be done? Does it need to happen this year, or can it wait?
  • How important is it? – What is the impact of this on the business? Is it vital to your overall success?
  • For each area that is very urgent, score it as a “1,” if it’s quite urgent, score it as a “2,” otherwise score it as a “3.”
  • For each area that is very important, score it as a “1,” if it’s quite important, score it as a “2,” otherwise score it as a “3.”
  • Add together the scores for each area.

Sort your overall goals by score. Any goal that has an overall score of “2” or “3” should be your top priority. Anything with a score of “4” is next in line, with “5” or “6” not being critical.

Look carefully though all of your goals, using the scores to guide what you want to accomplish in the next year. Create a shortlist of what you want to get done.

 

Step 3 – Turn the Goals Into Business Objectives

Now you’ve prioritized everything, it’s time to turn your goals into business objectives. This means putting some sales targets around each one. Go through your top priority goals and put in solid figures and timescales. For example:

  • Increase repeat customer base by 10% in the next year.
  • Increase your sales by 20% by the end of the year.
  • Add two new products to our range in the next six months.
  • Take on an external agency to help us with hiring sales people in the next year.
  • Build our door-to-door sales team by 3 people this year.
  • Increase our marketing spend and return on investment by 20% in the next year.

Time to Hire says: The more specific you can be, the better. You’ll be using these statements and targets to give objectives to your people.

Next, you’ll begin the process of handing out the objectives.

 

Step 4 – Give a Subset of the Objectives to Your Sales Managers

Setting sales objectives

 

You’re going to be using the solid objectives you created in the last step to create job objectives for your sales managers and senior staff.

  • Review the job descriptions, key responsibilities, and roles of your senior staff members.
  • Go through each of your business objectives and assign them to one or more of your staff members. (For example, a goal to increase your turnover might go to both your sales manager and marketing expert.)
  • Turn the high-level objective into something that’s relevant to the person you’re assigning it to. Ideally, objectives should be SMART <link to previous article> – (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)ctionable, (R)elevant, and (T)imely.
  • Discuss the objectives with each of your senior staff members to make sure they understand what they need to do.
  • Ask your senior staff members to give a subset of their objectives to the people who work under them.

 

Step 5 – Get Your Sales Managers to Give a Subset of Their Objectives to Their Sales Teams

Your managers are going to use the same approach as you did in step 4 to give a subset of their objectives to their sales teams and representatives. They’ll need to review job roles and decide which of their objectives are most suitable. They can then use SMART principles to create relevant objectives for their sales staff.

This should continue through your organization until everyone has objectives that support and align with their immediate manager’s.

Time to Hire says: The idea is that every objective, from the bottom to the top, aligns completely with your goals for your business. It means everyone knows how they contribute to your overall success.

 

Step 6 – Track Progress Towards Objectives on a Regular Basis

It’s a good idea to get objectives in place at the beginning of the year and track progress against them for the next twelve months. Ideally, sales representatives and other staff should have an informal meeting with their boss on a monthly basis to give them a chance to share their successes, concerns, and issues.

This can be followed up with a more formal meeting every quarter to review objectives and check staff are making progress towards them. If they’re not, the manager can provide appropriate coaching and support to get the employee back on track.

 

Step 7 – Reward Staff Who Meet or Exceed Their Objectives

Objectives are most powerful when they’re used to set expectations and incentivize your staff. You can make objectives part of a bonus structure or other reward scheme for your employees, especially for your commission only sales representatives.

Time to Hire says: The important thing is that your salespeople understand how their performance directly affects both business and personal success, as that will encourage them to do their best.

 

Step 8 – Everyone’s Moving in the Same Direction

The main advantages of setting objectives like this is that it lets you drive the overall direction of your business. You then translate that into goals and objectives you want your people to meet. As you cascade them down through the organization, everyone will understand how they’re driving your business in the right direction.

 

If you want to find sales staff that will surpass their objectives, we can help. We’re experts in getting great leads on high-quality candidates, so get in touch today.

Posted in: Recruiting

Find the Perfect Salespeople – Preparing for the Interview

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Finding interested sales candidates for your open sales positions is only half of the battle. You have the attention of some potentially high-quality commission only sales reps, but your job has only just begun.

Now you need to explore the unique potential of each candidate – Do they have the right approach, education, experience, and skills to be part of a great sales team? Many sales managers think that starts with the interview, but a little planning and preparation will give you much better results.

Because you may have lots of good salespeople to screen and filter (especially if you use our services) you’ll need to create a fast, effective, repeatable process. This will make your hiring decisions easier. Here’s a guide to make that happen:

  • Step 1 – Create a “Standards” Document.
  • Step 2 – Review How Your Candidates Look “On Paper.”
  • Step 3 – Identify the “Soft Skills” You Need.
  • Step 4 – What Common Areas Do Your Successful Sales Reps Share?
  • Step 5 – Creating Your Sales Hiring System.
  • Step 6 – Putting Your Sales Recruitment System Into Action.

 

Time To Hire says: We recommend you follow all of these steps, but even if you don’t, just using some of them will help you hire sales people more efficiently.

 

Step 1 – Create a “Standards” Document

Hiring interviewing sales peopleThis “standards” document, also known as a guide or rubric is a simple document that defines the what you expect from candidates in sales positions. It generally has a “spectrum” of ideal qualities, from the perfect candidate down to the worst candidate.

You can easily create a standards document from the various job descriptions <link> and objectives<link> you’ve put together. Go through those documents, work out how your ideal sales candidate would look, and include that in your guidelines.

 

Time To Hire says: Your standards document will evolve over time. You just need to create a basic framework now and you can test and tweak it as you review and interview sales candidates.

 

Step 2 – Review How Your Candidates Look “On Paper”

Review all of the resumes and other information from your sales candidates against your guidelines and ask:

  • Do they meet your educational and training requirements?
  • Do they have the right experience for the sales role you’re hiring for?
  • Do they have the right qualifications and certifications?
  • Do they demonstrate the skills and results you’d expect?
  • Are there any other areas where they do (or don’t) excel?

 

Time To Hire says: These questions are just starting points – Develop your own questions around the sales roles you want to fill.

 

Step 3 – Identify the “Soft Skills” You Need

Soft skills make up the intangible qualities you’re looking for in a sales candidate. Those might include their approach, negotiation skills, client management, ability to close a deal, and more. Think about what matters most for your sales position and include the main areas in your guidelines.

Areas to explore include:

Traditional Sales Ability

Is your sales process very involved? Do you need candidates who have innate sales skills, or can they make it by on intuition and a willingness to learn the ropes over time?

Product Experience

How important is it that new sales representatives have lots of experience using your product or service? How about knowledge of the “ins and outs” of your product; the features, the benefits, unique selling points, sales objectives and so forth.

Charisma and Approach

What does a successful sales person look like within your business? Do they possess strong interpersonal skills, or is that less-important? Do you need your candidates to be strong extroverts and “natural” salespeople?

Drive and Motivation

What drives your most successful commission only sales reps? Is it financial incentives like bonuses, quotas, monthly checkups, and yearly promotions? Or is it personal motivators like the desire to succeed, enjoyment of the sales process, and a competitive spirit.

 

Time To Hire says: These are just a few areas to consider for soft skills. You might look into specifics like negotiation techniques or more general like how communicative someone is.

 

Step 4 – What Common Areas Do Your Most Successful Sales Teams and Reps Share?

It’s a good idea to look at your existing sales teams and reps to find some common themes and approaches among your top performers, for example, what skills, education and approach do they have?

Try and identify each area separately (e.g. education level, qualifications, previous employment, training, negotiation tactics, charisma, product expertise etc.) If you can’t find much in common in a certain area, make a note of it – It may not be  as important as you originally thought. Go on to the next area and see if there’s commonality there. Using this comprehensive approach will help you find the main reasons for your salespeople’s success.

There will almost always be a common theme (it’s different for every business); maybe your top sales performers have extensive prior experience selling a similar product, or maybe they all have gone through a similar certification program. Figure out the most valuable on-paper “qualities” for your sales team, and use them to tweak your guidelines.

 

Time To Hire says: Keep digging until you find a common theme, there’s almost always one or two traits that successful sales representatives and sales teams share.

 

Step 5 – Creating Your Sales Hiring System

Now you’ve created your guidance document based on the “On paper” and “Soft skills” you can put it into action. This will help you create the perfect system for hiring commission only sales reps.

Go through your guidance document and rank each of the key requirements in each of the two areas (on paper and soft skills). The easiest way to do this is to go through each requirement and rate it on a scale of 1 (least important) to 10 (most important).

Then, list your requirements from highest to lowest. This is the basis of your interviewing and sales recruitment system.

 

Time To Hire says: This is just one approach that we’ve seen works well, but you should feel free to personalize it to your own organization.

 

Step 6 – Putting Your Sales Recruitment System Into Action

It’s time to make use of all the information you’ve been gathering. When you’re going through the initial communications with an interested candidate:

  • Keep your guidance document with you.
  • Screen candidates over the phone.
  • Go through each of the requirements in order.
  • Score your candidates against each one.
  • Invite the best sales candidates to interview.

As you’re interviewing:

  • Ask questions to expand on their “on paper” skills.
  • Find out what their soft skills are like (do they have the right personality, charisma or whatever else you think is important.).
  • How well do they know your product?
  • What motivates them?

 

Time To Hire says: You’ll have to draw on your personal intuition and experience to come to the right conclusion.

 

Keep in Mind…

It’s almost impossible to create the perfect system for hiring sales people that always chooses correctly. It’s also important you don’t try and fit every single candidate into a “box.”

This system is designed as a tool, a guide to help you make the best hiring decisions in the limited time you have. Hiring good sales reps is a very dynamic, fast-moving process.

Your sales business will benefit from more qualified candidates, less time spent training the wrong commission only sales reps, and an improved hiring process.

 

Time To Hire says: We’ve found this system works well for speed of hiring, finding the right sales reps, screening, and interviewing. It means you can spend less time hiring and more time running your business, training your people, and making sales.

 

If you’re a sales manager, let us help you hire the best sales reps. Whether you need a sales team or just the right commission only sales person, we can help

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People

Recruit and Retain the Best Commission Only Sales Reps

Posted On:

You know that hiring excellent sales reps is tough, especially in the commission only sector. We’ve explored this in depth with our clients, and we’re delighted to share some sales recruitment best practices to make your hiring easier:

  • Present Your Business in the Best Possible Way.
  • Be Honest and Upfront.
  • Provide the Sales Training that Your Reps and Teams Need.
  • Explain Your Sales Process Clearly.
  • Create the Right Power Dynamic.
  • Hire More Commission Only Reps than You Think You Need.
  • Don’t Just Use One Sales Recruitment Method.
  • Never Give Up!

 

Present Your Business in the Best Possible Way

hands ShakingYou want every aspect of your business to project confidence and success:

Does your website look professional? Make sure your website looks great. Highlight all of your successes, testimonials, and clients. This won’t just impress potential customers, it will also show your sales candidates they’re joining an established, credible business.

Do you have a professional office environment?  If not, consider meeting sales candidates for coffee, outside your office. Think about what you can do to make your office environment more productive and successful. That’s good for new and existing sales reps alike, and will contribute to more sales.

Do you have good online reviews? Many sales candidates will research your business online before applying for positions. If you’ve had bad reviews, respond to them in a professional, constructive way. Nobody wants to work for a business that isn’t liked by its customers.

 

Time To Hire says: You’re counting on your sales reps presenting a professional image and approach to you – It’s just as important that you present the right image back. It will give them the confidence that you’re a professional, expert sales organization.

 

Be Honest and Upfront

Always be honest and transparent with your sales representatives and teams. Make it clear exactly what the work will involve, before you recruit, during the interview and when you onboard your salespeople.

Let them know if they’ll be selling door-to-door, how many cold calls you expect them to make, how long it might take before they make their first sale, and what out of pocket expenses they’ll have to bear.

This keeps everything clear and above board, and means you’re hiring sales reps who understand your needs.

 

Time To Hire says: Never try and hide or obscure what you want salespeople to do. We’ve seen that lead to breakdowns in communication, resentment, and sales reps leaving businesses quickly.

 

Provide the Sales Training that Your Reps and Teams Need

Great salespeople aren’t born, they’re made; although some people are naturally more gifted at sales than others, sales success is as much to do with learned skills as natural talent.

You probably have excellent sales skills, and an approach that works. It’s a great idea to write your knowledge down and create helpful guides your salespeople can read and learn from. Take a look at other sales leaders you admire, think about the techniques that work. Capture them in your guides.

If you’re not a big fan of writing everything down, consider giving a series of training sessions where you’re filmed. They can become a library of good techniques, and help your commission only reps to absorb your knowledge, increasing your sales.

The more training you provide, the greater the advantage your new sales representatives will have against their (and your) competitors.

 

Time To Hire says: Don’t underestimate the importance of frequent, structured, effective training. You can share the latest tips and techniques with your salespeople to enhance their skills.

 

Explain Your Sales Process Clearly

Your new salespeople won’t have a natural understanding of your sales process, you’ll need to explain it to them. Whether they’re selling door-to-door, canvassing, following leads, or cold calling, you’ll need to provide guidance immediately after hiring them.

This includes good techniques, templates for sales, scripts, and helpful tips and advice.

Setup a meeting with your sales reps once they’ve come into your business and go through your sales process and techniques one-to-one. This will give your sales reps the confidence they need to go out and sell your products and services. Think about combining this with the training materials you’ve created.

 

Time To Hire says: If you haven’t already clearly defined your sales process, this is a good place to start. It will get everyone working in a common and effective way.

 

Create the Right Power Dynamic

You want to encourage the right sales candidates to do well. The best way to do this is to give them the support and guidance they need, but create incentives and challenged that will pull them in the right direction. Consider these two examples:

  • “I need you to do this, this, and this.”
  • “If you’re going to be successful, you’ll need to work hard, especially at first. What can I do to make that easier for you?”

The second statement is much better because it gives your sales rep a sense of ownership and control over their own success, it shows your investment in helping them, and forces them to consider the help they’ll need to fill in any gaps.

You don’t want candidates to think getting a commission only sales job is easy. Asking the right questions and motivating salespeople properly will help you attract the very best.

 

Time To Hire says: In addition to getting the power dynamic right, schedule informal monthly meetings with your sales reps, and formal quarterly ones so you can review performance, get feedback, and have an open discussion.

 

Hire More Commission Only Reps than You Think You’ll Need

I you’ve been hiring salespeople for any length of time, you’ll know many reps see commission only jobs as temporary at best. You’ll probably need to be recruiting constantly to keep up with the turnover in your sales staff and teams. We can help you find good sales reps in the first place, but you should streamline your hiring process as much as possible. Remember to replace low-performing reps quickly.

 

Time To Hire says: It’s good to get a constant flow of sales reps into your recruitment funnel. That way your business won’t suffer if several salespeople leave at once.

 

Don’t Just Use One Sales Recruitment Method

We know we’re a good option for hiring sales representatives, but we also know we’re not the only option. You can explore other methods for recruiting including:

  • Going to networking events and meeting with other sales business owners.
  • Talking to other sales recruiting managers to learn what methods have worked for them.
  • Setting up a partnership with other sales business so you can pool your hiring expertise and share potential candidates that are a good fit.
  • Looking for referrals on LinkedIn.
  • Joining local trade and employer organizations in your city.

 

Time To Hire says: The more exposure you have in your local market, the more places you’ll find sales reps.

 

Never Give Up!

always-be-closingRemember that hiring commission only salespeople is one of the most difficult jobs in recruitment.  It’s common that you might have whole weeks go by where you just can’t find a good sales rep. Other weeks, you might be lucky enough to land two or three. Following the tips in this guide will help though, and even if they only increase your sales hiring success rates by 10%, that will still save you  a lot of time and effort.

Keep trying new things and increasing your sales hiring skills. Remember, always be recruiting! Good luck.

 

Time To Hire says: Glengarry Glen Ross is a great film, but it’s probably not the best role model for motivating salespeople!

 

We can get your phone ringing with qualified sales candidates, and keep bringing good sales reps into your recruitment process. When you’re ready to hire, give us a call at 888-447-3001 9am-8pm M-F EST. If you’re looking for specialist sales reps, we’ve got specialist services for you:

 

Posted in: Commission Only Sales Reps, How To Hire Sales People, Must Read, Recruiting

It’s Not Just About the Paycheck – How to Motivate Your Sales Team

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Success motivation thumbAs the owner of a sales business, payroll is probably your biggest cost. Hiring sales people is expensive, but when they’re managed well, they’ll help your business to thrive. Money isn’t the only thing that matters to your commission sales reps, and motivating your staff is about more than just the figures on their paycheck.

Fortunately, there are several practical steps you can take right now to enhance the success of your sales employees and your business. They’ll help your reps feel more engaged, emphasize what matters to your business, and give your employees the tools they need to increase your turnover and profits.

Above all, remember that most commission only salespeople want to do a good job, be recognized for their abilities, and feel they’re contributing to yours, and their success. It all starts by understanding and describing what you want your business to achieve.

 

Time To Hire says: Don’t underestimate how important it is to properly motivate your sales teams. Building trust and reward into your business is the difference between having a reasonable sales business and a great one.

 

Sharing your vision and making it matter to your people

Think about your vision for your sales business. Where do you want it to be in a year, five years, or ten years? What are the values that matter most to you, your sales staff and your customers? Is your business built around quality, speed, efficiency, affordability, or something else?

Define your vision clearly and share it with your commission sales reps. When they know where you’re trying to move to, it makes it easier for them to push in the same direction. For example, if the goal of your business is to become the leader in selling high-quality apartments in your city, create all of your business processes, training, and sales staff relations with that as the foundation. You don’t need to mention it in every meeting, but focusing on quality ahead of speed or price will help to emphasize your priorities.

Once your sales reps understand this, they’ll start to subtly change their behaviors, helping to drive your business forward.

 

Time To Hire says: Find a way to make your vision real to people, and use it to inspire them to greater things.

 

Creating sensible objectives that support your staff

It’s vital that your sales employees know what you expect of them. One of the best ways to do this is to create clear objectives An objective is simply a way of measuring an employee’s progress towards their immediate job goals.  These should be based on:

  • Their job description – What you hired them to do in the first place (e.g. tasks expected of a commission sales rep).
  • Your business outcomes – What your business needs them to do. (e.g. sell x widgets over a certain period of time)
  • Their personal abilities – You can tailor objectives to the abilities of your people. (e.g. some salespeople might be better at pitching to businesses, others to individuals)
  • Challenging them – It’s always good to have “stretch” objectives that will challenge your employees. (e.g. asking them to mentor another salesperson)

 

Ideally, objectives should be written in clear, precise language that accurately defines what your salespeople need to do, any targets they need to meet, and how they will know if they have been successful. A great way to do this is to use the SMART method of creating objectives:

  • S – Specific – Each objective should cover one specific area. (e.g. add-on sales)
  • M – Measurable – You and your staff member are able to measure progress against the objective. (e.g. amount of revenue generated)
  • A – Actionable – The staff member should be able to influence the outcome of the objective. (e.g. selling x number of apartments or converting x number of leads)
  • R – Relevant – The objective should be relevant to the job area and staff member that you’re writing it for. (e.g. salespeople and managers will have different objectives)
  • T – Timely – The objective should be achievable in a reasonable length of time. (e.g. per quarter or annually)

 

Time To Hire says: We cover how to create objectives in detail here.

 

Having regular one-on-one meetings with your employees

Once you’ve got your vision and objectives in place, it’s important to have regular one-on-one meetings with your sales staff. You can make these meetings quick chats where they highlight any successes, questions or concerns, or more in-depth discussions, where you track progress against their objectives. A good routine is a  30 minute chat every month, and a more formal meeting every quarter.

These meetings are a great time to give feedback, raise any concerns, and check that your employees and teams are making progress.

 

Time To Hire says: Making time for your sales employees demonstrates that you care about them, which will help them care about your business.

 

Sharing positive and constructive feedback

If you want to build strong trusting relationships with your commission sales representatives, it’s very important to establish good ways of providing feedback. Constructive, specific feedback that your staff and sales teams can act on is a great way of coaching them and guiding them in the right direction. Avoid giving general feedback like “You need to sell more widgets.” Instead, give specific coaching and guidance on the particular methods and techniques they can use to sell those widgets.

Sharing feedback, appreciation, and respect is vital to having happy employees. People react better when they receive positive and constructive feedback that directly addresses any concerns you or they may have. When you combine this with respect and appreciation, it creates better working relationships, a more pleasant environment, and brings any concerns into the open.

 

Building accountability and trust

If you’ve hired the right commission sales reps, you can trust them to do a good job.

Demonstrate this by giving them the accountability to complete tasks in their own way, to the best of their abilities. Many salespeople work best when they have control over what they need to do, when they need to do it, and can choose how to approach their actions.

If you’ve got good sales targets and objectives in place, you know your people will want to achieve them. They will find a way to move forward that works for them, and you can largely let them decide on the specifics. Trust is a very powerful self-motivator. When people feel they can trust their leaders, they will often go above and beyond what’s expected of them to deliver excellent work.

 

Time To Hire says: Sometimes it can be hard to step back enough to give trust and accountability to others. The more you’re able to do that, the more appreciated your salespeople will feel.

 

Managing people in the proper way

Salespeople need to be managed differently, depending on their skills, experience, expertise and self-confidence. Adapting your management style to the needs of each salesperson will give them the support they need to do a good job. There are four main types of management style you can use, depending on how experienced an employee is. They are:

  • Directing.
  • Supporting.
  • Coaching.
  • Delegating.

 

Directive management style

This management style is best for inexperienced sales reps. It involves you or another senior person working closely with an employee to give them continual direction, support, and training as they learn new sales skills and techniques. It’s very “hands-on” and is essential for helping new employees adapt to their role. Combine this management style with regular feedback and support to get your staff trained quickly.

 

Supporting management style

A step above directing, this is the best method to use when staff already have some idea of what they need to achieve. They’ve got a basic understanding and can do most of what you expect, but there are still gaps in their knowledge. They should have continual access to other sales team members or a superior so they can ask questions and learn more about their role when they need to.

 

Coaching management style

This is probably the most common management style, and is suitable for most staff members who understand almost everything about their job role but may occasionally run into issues with your systems or processes. It means you rely on them to ask questions and provide high-level coaching and guidance when necessary. You’re available, but you largely expect your sales staff to manage their own time.

 

Delegating management style

This is the technique you use with your most competent and experienced sales representatives. It means just asking your employee to do something and then leaving it to them to decide how to approach it. People you can delegate to will normally be very self-confident and will find ways to solve problems they face, often without involving you.

 

Time To Hire says: Managing styles for individual employees will change as they get more experience and confidence. The aim is to get them from “directive” to “delegating.”

 

Tying their success to yours

Although motivating your salespeople is about more than a paycheck, money is still a powerful driver. Because your employees are working to make your business succeed, tying some of their rewards into your business performance is a good idea. You can do this through extra sales commission, profit sharing, providing a bonus (either regularly or one-off), giving them stock options or rewarding them based on how they do against their objectives.

 

Understanding your employee’s concerns

Everyone has concerns and problems at work and at home. Taking some time to empathize with your staff and supporting them with any issues shows that you’re a good boss. If you notice the performance of a good staff member is slipping, raise it with them gently. Find out if there’s any coaching or support you can give them to make things easier.

This is especially important when it comes to work / life balance. When people aren’t able to get clear boundaries in place between their work and their personal time, it can make them very stressed. If you notice salespeople working long hours, or their personal life is impacting their work performance, talk to them and see how you can solve the problem together.

One of the best ways to build trust and create a good working environment is to let employees share their ideas and concerns with you. This means having an “open door” policy, a way that staff members and sales teams can tell you what’s going on without fear of repercussions. Once your staff members realize they can trust your leadership and that you’ll support them, you’ll see big improvements in morale.

 

Time To Hire says: Learning to listen properly and react appropriately is one of the best skills a good leader can learn.

 

Celebrating success

Business is about more than just meeting targets, managing objectives, and selling widgets. Part of helping people feel valued is celebrating successes, on both a job level and a business level. The next time someone closes a big sales deal, take the time to congratulate them and show your appreciation. If the business exceeds all of its sales targets, take your employees out to dinner.

Many small businesses have pizza and beer Fridays after work, or provide other facilities to their employees. This all creates a better work environment, helps people avoid burnout, and lets everyone understand how they’re making your sales business thrive.

 

Time To Hire says: Take time to celebrate success and you’ll have fewer failures.

 

Conclusion

When people feel valued, they will work harder. Feeling appreciated doesn’t just come from one area, it’s a combination of many things. Remember:

  • Salespeople want to do a good job.
  • Sharing your vision gets everyone aimed at the same goal.
  • Setting clear, SMART objectives tells your sales reps what they need to achieve.
  • Having regular one-on-one meetings means you can give feedback, build trust, and find out about any concerns.
  • Adapting to the right management style will give your people the right level of support.
  • Tying the success of your business to your salespeople’s success will help them feel invested.
  • Celebrating successes creates a better working environment.

When you can bring these areas together, you’ll enhance people’s pride in their work, build better relationships, and ultimately create a more successful, sustained sales business.

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Five Powerful Ways to Improve Your Sales Force

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Sales Force ManagementAn overwhelming proportion of modern sales strategies are based on numbers and data analysis. The art of the sale is now turning into a science. Despite this, we shouldn’t forget that human interaction is still at the core of every successful sale.

As a sales manager or business owner, you need to masterfully lead your sales teams to success. We’ll explore five powerful, actionable strategies you can use right now to take your sales reps to the next level.

Time to Hire says: The sooner you can put these strategies in place, the sooner you’ll see results, both in terms of happier sales staff and increased profits.

 

Less Managing, More Coaching

The title “Sales Manager” can be misleading. The best sales managers don’t treat their job as an administrative position, but rather as a leadership role.

 

You are the guiding light for your team

You can step into a leadership role and help your people thrive.

  • Develop training programs to help new commission only sales reps get ready as quickly as possible.
  • Have a personal relationship with your salespeople to help them succeed.
  • Know the most effective way to push commission sales reps to meet and exceed expectations.

One of the best ways to build motivation and improve results from your sales staff is to improve your relationship with them. It might sound counter-intuitive (or indirect) but this is one of the best ways to become a more effective manager. When you can understand “who” your sales staff really are and what drives them, you will have a much easier time motivating and managing a good sales team.

 

Time to Hire says: We’ve written a complete guide to motivating your sales staff.

 

Does Your Sales Team have the Right Training?

One of the main areas that holds back sales representatives and sales teams is problems with sales training materials and programs. All commission only (and other) sales reps will need help to work confidently with your products and services.

Every single salesperson you hire and oversee will need some additional training or guidance. This might be in perfecting their pitch, finding the right negotiation skills, managing clients, finding leads, or something else.

Your training will depend on the type of product you’re selling and your sales cycle, but here are a few common sales training areas to get you started.

Make sure your sales reps have guidance, support, and training for the following:

Although a good sales rep might know some or all of these techniques, they still need to know how the techniques specifically relate to your business and products.

Your sales reps will need to have powerful sales skills so they can sell your products. It’s not enough to know “objection handling.” They need to know exactly what objections will come up when they are pitching your products and the absolute best way to respond.

 

Time to Hire says: It’s a great idea to systemize your training – Setup a sales training schedule, create decent support materials, and ensure people can understand them. Another good idea is to have a sales rep you trust mentor your newly recruited salespeople.

 

Trust Your Sales Team and Your Sales System

Do you have complete faith in your sales teams and sales process? It’s extremely important the leadership of your sales business (whether sales managers or other high-level staff) show trust in your people and processes.

If your sales reps see doubt or uncertainty from leadership, they might take on the same viewpoint. Don’t forget that your sales staff feeds off of the energy you put out.

Here are some ways to demonstrate trust:

  • Openly Praise Accomplishments – Go above and beyond: Make an effort to give praise for all the significant accomplishments your sales staff achieve. Did someone have their best month? Congratulate them and let them know how much you appreciate their work. Even though you might think gratitude is implied, your sales reps will be more motivated if they know someone is rooting for them.
  • Be In Your Sales Team’s Corner – Ideally, you should share the same desires as your sales team. If there’s a problem, or your team asks for something, it’s your job to step in and speak on their behalf. Go to battle for your sales team, and they will notice and feel more motivated, reciprocating with hard work. Do everything you can to keep communication channels open, and make sure you are doing more listening than talking.

Demonstrate complete confidence in your sales team and do everything possible to make their sales jobs efficient and enjoyable. You’ll be surprised, this pays off big-time when it comes to “on paper” results.

 

Time to Hire says: Sometimes it can be difficult to know what’s working, and what isn’t. One of the easiest ways to find out is to ask the people impacted – Your sales representatives and sales teams. What’s working well for them, and what isn’t?

 

Streamline Your Management

Nothing is more stressful and wasteful than “too much” management. It’s very easy to over-manage and take up too much of your sales team’s time. If your team isn’t taking action they aren’t making sales. Cut down on unneeded meetings, reviews, and other bureaucratic clutter. Let your sales team and sales reps focus on what they do best – Making sales and generating profit.

 

Reflect on Your Successes and Failures

Another area that’s often neglected, but is actually incredibly beneficial, is to reflect on your business.  It’s probably one of the most valuable uses of your time as a sales manager. Once a month, once a quarter, or at the least once a year, take time to think about what’s been working, and what hasn’t.

There’s an “intangible” side to sales management that is almost never covered by training programs, but it’s still vitally important. If you want to drive the highest sales results possible, it’s going to take serious self-reflection and awareness.

For your specific organization and team, think about the following:

  • What management actions led to the greatest results?
  • What seemed to motivate your team the most and the least?
  • What is the most common feedback you get from your commission only sales reps and sales teams?

Self-reflection is extremely important for sales managers and sales business owners. It’s one of the best ways to find the ideal ” sales strategy” to accompany your more structured management tactics. If you’re trying to increase numbers (sales, revenue per sale, sales closing rate, or something else), try something completely different to the norm.

If you usually offer higher incentives or some other type of monetary bonus, try talking to your reps and find out what motivates them. Remember that effective management is heavily dependent on the relationships and human interaction that goes on “behind the scenes.”

 

Time to Hire says: It can be useful to have an “off-site” meeting of your senior staff, but also bring some sales reps along at all levels in your business. Their experience and insight will help to inform your decisions.

 

When you make your relationships as good as they can be, you’ll see greater success across your organization.

Posted in: Sales Tips

Understand, Communicate, and Grow: How To Improve Your Sales Team

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man-1020387_1280Some business books will tell you that running a business and building a sales team is easy. That it’s a case of getting the right pieces and sliding them together “just so.”

Don’t be fooled.

Sales teams and sales businesses are complex, multi-faceted groups of people with their own approaches, motivations, and outcomes. They need to be managed and handled effectively by someone who understands the bigger picture, is open minded, and can give them the space they need to be great.

If you want excellent sales results and business growth, you’ll need to work at it, and tailor what you’re doing to the sales reps you’re working with.

 

Time to Hire says: You can’t simply adopt a popular sales methodology, hire some salespeople and hope for the best. You need to take a measured approach to putting a great sales team together.

 

This means taking a step back, looking at the structure and any gaps in your team, and making smart management decisions.

We have some experience with this, and we’re sharing our “Understand, Communicate, Grow” solution with you. It’s a proven approach that can make dramatic improvements to your commission only sales reps, sales teams, and your business as a whole.

You’ll learn how to structure your sales team in the right way, improve your chances of success, and drive more turnover and profit through your sales business.

 

Step 1 – Understand

To begin with you need to properly understand your current situation. Start by analyzing the structure of your entire sales business, this includes:

  • Your upper-level management (sales and non-sales).
  • Senior managers and team leaders.
  • Sales teams.
  • Supporting functions (e.g. operations, account management, administrative etc.)
  • Individual sales reps (e.g. commission only reps, door-to-door salespeople, canvassers etc.)

 

Create an organization chart

Capture all the roles and functions in your business in an organization chart. Take a good look at your org chart, it will help to tell you which teams are over or understaffed, who is at capacity and might need help, and more. Use this opportunity to find bottlenecks – Is your lead generation team understaffed, meaning it takes longer to generate leads for your salespeople?

 

Time to Hire says: You can capture your organization chart electronically using online tools, or simply sketch it out on a large piece of paper. Use whatever works for you. You should also share this information with anyone who needs it.

 

Think about long-term goals

Think about the long-term goals of your sales business and how the org chart might need to change to help you reach those goals. Start planning for those changes now, so you can get things in place in good time.

 

Make sure you understand how it all fits together

You should have a clear idea (ideally documented) of how things work in your organization, including:

 

Time to Hire says: You should have standard operating procedures for the common processes, functions and other aspects of your sales business. This will make management much easier as you’ll have an established playbook and process you can use.

 

If you leave your processes and people to chance and interpretation, it will lead to failed expectations.  That’s why you need to start by examining and documenting your existing sales business structure.

 

Identify any gaps in your organization, functions, and processes

Now silhouettes-439150_1280you know what you have documented (and what you don’t) go through your organization, business processes, and functions to find any gaps. Look at your short, medium and long term goals and see how what you have now will help you achieve those aims.

Think about what’s working in the best possible way and what could be improved. Look at the targets of your various teams and see how they’re doing. Are there business processes that can be improved to make things easier for other teams?

How is communication working in and between your sales teams and what can you do to improve it? Do your sales representatives have the support they need from your office staff to do a great job? Is your leadership team properly supporting your sales reps and the business as a whole?

 

Time to Hire says: Don’t be disappointed if you discover big gaps – This type of strategic, objective thinking often gets forgotten in the day-to-day of making more sales and making a living. This is your chance to get everything back on course and plan for a more profitable future.

 

It’s not essential you can answer all of these questions now, we’ll cover this in more detail in the next step – Communicate.

 

Step 2 – Communicate

Communication is at the heart of making your business work together better. It can help you to identify gaps and find new sales opportunities. Here are some key concepts to help your sales business, reps, and management evolve.

 

Communications in growing sales companies

This is often a problem area  for growing companies. As the business increases in size , new layers of staff and “red tape” are added to the organization. These changes cause clutter and mismanagement, due to the ever-increasing number of middlemen that stand between your sales reps and the upper-level administration.

 

Feedback

Don’t underestimate the value of your sales team’s opinion and experience. They have the closest relationship with prospects and leads and are the people who will turn them into future clients. This means their point of view is extremely valuable. Talk to your sales reps on a regular basis and learn from their opinions and ideas.

 

Survey

If you don’t know what areas of your sales functions and teams need improvement, here’s a great way to figure it out. Create a survey to ask your sales representatives and teams about important information. Create a set of questions and adapt them to the specific teams you’re sending the survey to.

Potential survey questions include:

  • Are there any inefficiencies, problems, or gaps in the sales process that haven’t been dealt with by management?
  • What are the biggest bottlenecks and issues in your workflow?
  • What is the main thing stopping you from making more sales?
  • Do you have any advice or ideas on how to improve the sales or customer acquisition process?

 

Time to Hire says: The results might surprise you – These surveys often uncover issues, problems, and solutions you weren’t aware of.

 

Analyze the results

Look through the results of the survey and see if you can find any major problems, flaws, or gaps in your sales process. This could be anything from a poorly designed pricing structure (scaring away potential clients) to a specific sales objection missed by your standard pitch.

 

Take action

The most important part of this strategy is to take action on the information you’ve collected. Make sure you put proper fixes in place and start working on improved company processes and policies. Once you’ve taken care of any glaring problems start improving your existing sales systems.

Here are some more questions you can ask to streamline your systems:

  • What is the ideal set-up for your sales reps?
  • What training do your sales representatives need?
  • How can you motivate your sales reps more effectively?
  • Are there any responsibilities management could delegate in a more efficient manner?
  • What about sales automation?

 

Time to Hire says: Your sales team needs to focus all of their energy on what matters (i.e. what drives sales – Whether that’s cold-calling, going door-to-door, or something else) and they should avoid “time-waster” activities.

 

Grow

Now it’s time to plan for future growth. Remember that the strategies, processes, and decisions that got your sales business here will be very different from what you’ll need to do in future. Think a few years ahead, and consider what your sales division will look like then:

  • How big will your sales teams be? Both the number of sales reps and also managers, support areas, and other “middlemen.”
  • What goals, responsibilities, and standards will then need to work to? What will change in your sales team’s duties and responsibilities?
  • Will you need specialist salespeople? In future, will you need sales representatives to specialize in a certain market, product, or client-type?

This exercise will help you consider where you and your sales business will be in future.

 

Time to Hire says: Don’t assume your market won’t change over time – It will. You’ll need to adapt and evolve if you want to stay ahead of your sales competitors and continue to grow your business.

 

The Hierarchy Of Your Sales Team

Creating and maintaining an effective, efficient, and proven sales team needs extensive time, resources, experience, and information. There are no shortcuts when it comes to sales management, but taking advantage of a proven system can save you from making unnecessary mistakes.

 

Summary and recap

  • Look at your sales division as an ever-growing and constantly evolving system.
  • Gather information from sales reps that are “on the front-lines” dealing with prospects, clients, and leads.
  • Identify and solve any inefficiencies or problems within your sales team (whether they are client-side or administrative).
  • Think about the sales team you’ll need to achieve your long-term goals.
  • Put measures in place so you’re aware of changes in your marketplace so you can adapt accordingly.

 

Time to Hire says: The key to this system is diligence. When it comes to managing your sales team, the decision-makers within your business need to consider the past, present, and future.

Posted in: Recruiting, Sales Tips

How To Create A Successful Door To Door Sales Team From Scratch

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door-1182969_1280Making door to door sales is tough – Creating an effective door to door sales team isn’t any easier! If your sales business is moving into selling door to door, you’ll need to put together a great sales team.

This takes time, effort, and money. However, if you make the right decisions, you can create a lean, focused door to door sales team, create a new revenue stream for your business, and ultimately increase your profits.

We’ve created this guide to show you how to build the perfect team from scratch.

 

Step 1 – Define your relationship with your potential customers

Everything starts with the customer. Spend some time thinking of your ideal customer:

  • Who is your target demographic?
  • What is it they need?
  • How do your products and services meet those needs?
  • What problems do you solve for them?
  • How are you going to identify where your best customers are?

 

Time to Hire says: Really think about your ideal customer so you can define them as clearly as possible. This will help you create specific pitches and responses to sales objections, ultimately increasing your successful door to door sales rate.

 

This is the most important step in scaling your business through hiring door to door sales representatives. Understanding your customer is key to both building a sales team and hiring the right salespeople who can sell to those customers.

You’ll use your understanding of your ideal customer to guide your hiring decisions and tailor your sales strategy in the right way.

 

Step 2 – Refine your sales strategy for a door to door sales team

You’ll already have a sales strategy you use to sell your products, either online, by phone, through pitches, or by appointment. You’ll need to take that sales strategy and tweak it into a sales process and approach that works when selling door to door.

Take your existing sales strategy and break every part of it down, piece by piece, into a simple repeatable process. Aim to simplify each part of the process as much as possible – That will make it easier for your sales reps to learn and use it effectively.

 

Time to Hire says: You’ll know you have a great door to door sales strategy when any sales rep could study and learn it in less than a day.

 

How to refine and build your door to door sales strategy

You can build your new strategy by asking the right questions:

 

  • What does it feel like to be your average / ideal customer?
  • What are the main tangible benefits of your products?
  • What does it allow your potential customers to do?
  • What are the main intangible benefits of your products?
  • How will it make your potential customers feel?
  • What are the typical objections a customer may have to your sales process or product?
  • How will you deal with those sales objections?
  • What type of relationship do you expect your customers to have with your products?
  • What is the best approach to take when explaining products to new customers?
  • How will you create the ideal pitch to explain your products and get buy in?
  • How will you build the trust and reputation of your business and products within twenty seconds of a customer opening the door?

Compile the answers to these questions and combine them with your existing sales strategy. Document all of this in a playbook or sales guide and refine it as you get feedback from your door to door sales reps.

Use the playbook as training materials to give your sales representatives the skills they need to sell door to door.

 

Time to Hire says: One of the best ways to refine and share this information is to have your new salespeople act as customers. Get them to listen to the pitch, buy your product, and use it for a few days. This will help them understand and empathize with your potential customers during their first few interactions.

 

Remember that no sales strategy will survive contact with your customers! Ask your door to door sales reps what parts of the strategy are working, and what aren’t. Use their feedback to tweak and refine your approach. Keep doing this until you have a finely honed sales approach that can get you the results you need.

 

Step 3 – Hire the ideal door to door sales representatives

phone-1363806_1280You now have insight into your target audience, you’ve honed your sales strategy, and you’ve created a good door to door sales approach. You’ve honed your pitch, you know what sales objections people are likely to have, and you’ve got a good idea on how to convert a lead into a satisfied customer.

All you need now is to find the perfect door to door sales reps to put your plan into action. This is where it can get complicated. You need to match your sales strategy and approach to hiring the right people. You’ll need to think about:

  • The qualities you’re looking for in an ideal door to door sales rep.
  • The skills, experience, talent, and expertise you’ll want them to have.
  • What commission and bonus structure you’ll use to drive them.
  • How else you can motivate your commission only sales reps.
  • The requirements of the job.

 

Fortunately, we’ve created some very useful guides to help with all of this:

 

Please have a read through of the guides, they’ll help you hone your hiring and recruiting process and let you know how to motivate your sales teams.

 

Time to Hire says: Hiring the best door to door salespeople is a delicate balancing act, for example offering higher compensation means you’ll attract better candidates, but you need to have the resources to support them effectively.

 

Every part of your hiring and recruitment process will be constantly evolving. You’ll be able to remove obstacles and bottlenecks to help you focus on the best commission only sales reps, meaning more success for you, and for them.

It all leads to a better functioning, more effective sales team. As you hone your processes  getting the attention of your ideal sales reps should be fairly easy.

 

Step 4 – Teach, lead, and mentor

You’ve built some excellent foundations for your door to door sales team. You understand the customer and you’ve recruited the best people. Now it’s time to give your commission only sales reps the support they need to drive better door to door sales and contribute to your revenue.

 

Time to Hire says: If you want your team to beat expectations and create record breaking numbers, it’s essential you continue to teach, lead, and mentor them.

 

That support starts through having an elegant and professional onboarding process to introduce new reps to your business and get them up to speed quickly.

This means:

  • Having the right training available – This should include documented training and playbooks, classroom training and one to one mentoring.
  • Giving your sales reps enough time to learn – People absorb information at different rates;  give your sales reps the time and support they need to properly absorb all the information.
  • Define and share success – Let all of your sales reps know what’s expected of them, and how you can help them accomplish that.
  • Getting proper support structures in place – Make sure the rest of your business is poised to assist your door to door sales team. That means admin functions, account management, distribution, and more.

 

Time to Hire says: You will never have a 100% success rate with newly hired reps. Every single company has to accept that a certain percentage of all sales reps won’t make the cut, that’s just a part of business.

 

Your management and leadership skills will influence how many (or how few) of your sales reps become successful.

 

Step 5 – Make the most of your investment

If your business is new to door to door sales, this entire process is a big investment. It’s both an investment into your new door to door team, but it’s also a direct investment in your sales company’s successful growth and future potential.

 

Time to Hire says: Give your new team and sales processes the attention and support they deserve. Anything less could lead to a lackluster sales team and unimpressive sales numbers.

 

Here’s a summary of what we’ve discussed:

  • Find out about your ideal customer, what they need, where they are, and the problems your products and services solve for them.
  • Refine and build your sales strategy through asking the right questions, creating trust with your customers and dealing with sales objections.
  • Use feedback from your salespeople to refine and tweak your sales strategy to be more successful.
  • Create useful sales materials and training to give your new sales reps the skills and approach they need to be successful.
  • Hire the right people who are ideally suited to door to door sales.
  • Continuously teach, lead, and mentor your sales team and watch it improve over time.
  • Continue to invest time and energy into helping your sales team to succeed.

 

Use this guide and take a careful look at your approach to sales recruiting. Take the first step towards creating a successful door to door sales team from scratch and implement any new insights right away.

 

Time to Hire says: Creating a successful sales team does need time, energy, and money. With the right approach, processes, and training you’ll create an effective team who can drive more revenue and profit into your business.

Posted in: Door To Door Salespeople, Recruiting

How to Fix Your Cold Calling Problems

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5781215_sLet’s be honest – Nobody like cold calls.

Commission only sales people don’t like making them, prospects don’t like receiving them. They’re seen as an irritation at best, so why do sales organizations keep using them? It’s simple, cold calling is still effective. It’s one of the main ways salespeople can get your product or service in front of customers.

The problem is, it’s just not very efficient. On average, sales teams making cold calls can expect around 0.3% of them to turn into appointments. That means for every 1,000 calls made, around 30 will lead to further interactions with the prospect.

 

Time to Hire says: That’s a pretty low success rate, but at least it’s something.

 

Unfortunately, for many salespeople, an 800 pound gorilla called “FEAR” is sitting on the handset they’re about to pick up. There’s little we can do about this – Despite the best efforts of HR professionals or sales hiring managers, salespeople will tell you what you want to hear.

They can be charming in an interview, highly social, and very convincing (that’s their job, after all!) They’ll tell you they have no problem making cold calls and closing sales. Unfortunately, once they get to the front lines, many will freeze up and let the fear of rejection prevent them from making the sales call.

Even when they do start making calls, they can sound stilted. It’s simply unnatural to pick up the phone, call someone at random, and try to sell them something. This is especially difficult for millennials – They’re less inclined to make phone calls and instead rely on email, text, mobile apps and social media sites for their daily interactions.

 

Time to Hire says: While everyone has a mobile phone today, many people still have phone phobia!

 

It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom – There are several practical steps you can take right now to help out your sales team, increase their efficiency, and make your sales calls more likely to succeed.

 

Research and refine your prospects list

Calling people at random, or off of some pre-defined list is one of the worst ways to go about marketing your products via cold calling. It’s much better to:

  • Go through your prospects list one line at a time
  • Understand each prospect and how you could specifically help them
  • Find individuals in the business and learn their name, call them and ask to speak to that person
  • Personalize the approach for each prospect
  • Research social media to find out who works with the person you want to get to
  • Interact with their colleagues on social media
  • Talk to someone else in the business first and see if you can get a referral from them (referrals significantly increase the chances of making a sale)

 

This helps you to develop a hot prospect list. Up-front research can increase your chances of getting someone to say yes many times over.

 

Time to Hire says: Using some of your sales team to carry out research and “soft” contact will significantly increase your chances of making a sale.

 

Show them, don’t tell them

You can’t just tell a salesperson that following a process or a script is going to work, you have to show them. Have successful salespeople within the organization share their experiences, how they overcame their fears and what the financial benefit has been. Provide training and support where it’s needed.

 

Get a mentoring / buddy system in place

Incentivize your top performing salespeople to mentor your new hires. Give them a little more commission if they help to close sales. This provides many benefits as good practice, the right approach, and dealing well with prospects will be better understood throughout your teams.

 

Prepare a script or call outline

Many people don’t like using scripts – It makes them feel they sound like a robot. If it does come off that way, it’s normally because the script is bad. A good script or outline should use natural language, directly address your prospect’s problems, and highlight how your products or services can solve them.

Salespeople don’t need to be completely bound to their scripts, but they can act as useful guidelines, provide key talking points, and lets salespeople practice the ideas and wording. Try out several different sales scripts with your salespeople and see which ones work best.

 

Time to Hire says: Remember to support and prepare your sales reps for the inevitable negative responses and rejections.

 

Perfect practice makes the practice perfect

Let your salespeople “warm up” before making live calls. You don’t want to waste your leads and prospects because a salesperson is nervous, unprepared, and doesn’t want to dial. Give your people the support and confidence they need and let them make practice calls before they start speaking to real leads.

 

Time to Hire says: It’s normal for new hires to be nervous – It’s vital to recognize this and gently support them, rather than making unreasonable demands and damaging their self-confidence.

 

Share your metrics, performance, and targets

Sharing your metrics is one of the best ways to manage expectations in your sales teams. When salespeople can see how your business is working as a whole, it means they can understand how they’re contributing to that success.

One example would be showing (on average) how many “cold calls” it takes to make a sale. Once salespeople can see that, they can look at their own performance and know how they are doing.

When you can also show how this relates to commission and reward, it’s a further incentive to get your people back on the phone, making calls, and ultimately winning you more business.

Posted in: Sales Tips

Getting Candidates Interested in Your Commission Only Sales Jobs

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Picture1At Time To Hire, our goal is to get good candidates to call you about your commission only sales jobs. Although we’re a lead service to help you find the perfect sales candidate, we know there’s more support you need.

As your phone starts ringing, you’ll need to schedule your potential sales reps into individual or group interviews.

Before you can do that, you’ll need to ask the right questions to screen candidates, and also give them the information they need to decide if the job is a good fit for them. If you’re not used to it, taking those calls can be tough – It can be tricky to get all your information across and screen candidates at the same time as answering awkward questions.

For example, what do you say when someone inevitably asks, “Is this position commission only?” Gulp. How do you respond to this?  If you’re honest and immediately tell them that it is a commission only sales role, most candidates won’t be interested.  They won’t take the time to find out what’s involved in the role or what their other benefits may be – They’ll put down the phone and you’ve lost them for good.

We know this is an issue many sales hiring managers and HR professionals face. We spoke with a professional sales recruiting manager with over 40 years of experience. We put together this guide exploring the mechanics of taking candidate phone calls and what you can say to increase their chances of coming to interview.

 

Remember your goal

Your only goal when taking calls is screening a potential sales candidate and scheduling the good ones in for an in-person interview. The candidate will ask questions to decide if they want to meet with you.  Remember – You’re making a sale when you’re hiring for a commission only sales position!  

If you can persuade the sales candidate to come to interview, they’ll have to practice and take the time to come into your office. This means they have a stake in this transaction. Once they have “skin in the game”, they are much more likely to listen to your entire presentation about the position.

 

Answer the phone live as much as possible

It’s vital to be there and answer the phone when it starts ringing. Most candidates won’t leave a voice message, and even if they do, phone tag is often fruitless. Automated call attendants, voicemail, or spending too much time on hold could hurt your campaign – You need to make it as easy as possible for your sales candidates. They should be able to dial your number and have a person answer, every time, without exception. Even if you can’t answer the phone yourself, get one of your trusted colleagues to help out.

 

Follow a script

Always create and follow a screening script for when candidates call for sales positions. Follow the script even if you know what to say – It will make sure you don’t miss out on important questions and will remind you of key talking points.

Keep refining and tweaking your script and your process. Once you have a perfect script, others will be able to take candidate calls for you.

 

Don’t sound desperate

Stay calm, cool, and collected on the phone. If you seem desperate to fill the sales position, you’ll find it much more difficult to hire high-quality candidates. The candidate must believe the sales position is more important to them than it is to you.

 

Be friendly  

You’ll get much further by being friendly, flexible, and approachable than by being combative or dismissive. Many people who call may not be interested in a commission only sales role and some people won’t want to continue the conversation after finding out.

 

Sound incredibly busy.   

Your goal is to schedule the candidate for an in-person interview, not to answer all of their questions over the phone. You will need to control the conversation and gently push them towards an in-person meeting. Here are some examples of how you can do that.

“Thanks for calling back, we’re contacting you because your resume matches what we’re looking for and I wanted to talk to you and share some background about our business and our roles. I’m currently scheduling appointments and setting up interviews for tomorrow.”

“I’ll ask you some questions about your sales background and see if this might work for you. I’ll arrange for an interview tomorrow and we can discuss everything in person then, does that sound good?”

I’d like to answer all your questions, however I’m busy with all the calls coming in from candidates right now. Can you meet tomorrow at 11 and we’ll go over everything in detail?”

“Great, you sound like you have the kind of experience we’re interested in. Let me tell you a bit about us but it’s going to have to be brief because I have a lot of calls coming in today. Can we arrange a time to meet tomorrow?”

 

Schedule the interview ASAP

Wherever possible, schedule your interviews for the same or the following day. The longer you wait, the more alternative offers your sales candidates will see – Their interest will wane.  You’re looking for people who can make a quick decision and follow through on it – That’s a  positive trait in the sales field.

An example response for “Can we just meet next week?”- Our business is exploding and we need people to start right away. I’m looking for salespeople who can make decisions right away and someone that won’t hesitate.”

 

Share information about your business up front.

After asking some quick questions about their sales background, give a brief overview of your sales business. Let them know what you do, share some brief company information, and your sales process. Tell them about leads, how you generate them, and how much money they could make.

“Our highest sales person is going to make x amount this month, the average sales rep makes x amount a month, and obviously we’re looking for someone who has strong sales abilities, is a self-starter and a hard-worker, does that sound like you x?”

Example Response to “Yes!” –  “Great, it sounds like we have some common interest. “I have either 10am tomorrow or 3pm the following day. Which is best for you?”Only offer them two times.

 

This is how you control the conversation and avoid the trap of giving away all the information about the company and position up front. The candidate must feel some curiosity about the position or they won’t show up to the interview.

Alternate response: “I’d like to meet, can you tell me more about the compensation?” Answer: “I’d be happy to – that’s part of what we’ll cover in our interview tomorrow. I just don’t have time today with so many calls coming in.”

 

Have other staff answer calls

In general, use this only if you aren’t able to take the calls yourself or to handle overflow calls. Anything is better than callers going to voicemail!   Example: “Hi John. Mr. Smith is busy taking other calls right now and has asked me to schedule interviews. He does have time tomorrow to meet with you, either at 10am or 2pm. Which works for you?” If they ask any questions, the response would be: “I don’t know enough about the position, but I do know that people seem very successful here. Can you meet at one of those times tomorrow?”

 

Responding to “Is this position commission only?”   

If you have to answer this question directly, most sales candidates will lose interest – They just won’t show up. Again, you need to get them to come to your office to meet with you in person. For most commission only sales positions, you’re better off sidestepping the question and closing them on the interview. If you do need to answer, here are some possible responses.

“Well, I could give you a base and you could go out and do some cold calling and generate your own leads. Instead of doing it this way, we actually provide our sales reps with warm leads. Would you rather have warm leads to call, or would you rather generate your own leads?”

“That’s a great question! Were you looking for a commission only position?” No?  “Well, we have multiple pay plans for our reps and we can go over those options when you come in for an interview. We’ll tour our facilities, show you the opportunities and answer any questions you have in detail.  If it seems like a match for both of us, we’ll find out which direction and compensation plan are right for you. Does that sound good?”

We have a variety of compensation plans and tailor our final offer for each candidate. When you come in for the interview, we’ll discuss those options in more detail, explain what we do and show you around the business.”

 

Practice makes perfect

Don’t expect to become an expert overnight.  Keep working on your technique and realize that you may not be successful your first time. If you have any additional tips on improving how to get more candidates to show up for commission only positions, please let us know!

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Must Read, Recruiting

Entrepreneurship 101: Sales and Marketing for Growth

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Choosing to be an entrepreneur is an exciting decision, but as romanticized as the vision has become, the truth remains that it requires more than a good idea to be successful and that 9 out of 10 will ultimately fail in their venture.

Having a marketable product and financial viability are good starts, but your business is worth nothing if you can’t close a sale. Your passion and belief in your product or service may be strong, but until you can convince a buyer to share that belief it’s the only asset your business owns; and passion doesn’t pay the bills.

That’s not to say passion isn’t important, quite the contrary for building a marketable business, but be willing to accept that new products or services are among the hardest of sells. However, so long as you have a grasp on your market advantages and the stomach to grind through the setbacks, there are ways to increase your chances for success. Here is a five-point plan for getting started, the Right Way:

Know your market

The beginning stages almost always include the most obvious objectives, but that’s because they’re fundamental to sustainable success.

Before launching a business you should strive to be as educated about your market as anyone. This means knowing your value against competitors, how to structure a sales model, how to advertise and market your product, and the list goes onbut the foremost objective is knowing how your business disrupts the status quo and how to accentuate those advantages. Also, don’t be afraid to observe and take notes from competitors. If they’re making money then they must doing something right, so study them as a means to better understanding your buyers.

Know who to reach

Once you’ve found your target market, you then need to narrow even more on your buyers, and in-that lies an important distinction.

When I began my  service business I made hundreds of cold calls because as a seasoned sales professional it’s what I was familiar with doing: grinding until I could get my foot in some doors. But something seemed ‘off’ about the responses I was receiving, as if my pitch wasn’t resonating with the people who answered the phone. Simply stated, I was selling to the wrong people. Selling my service required getting in front of decision-makers, and cold calls largely provided cold leads on that front. Once I shifted to arranging in-person meetings with executives, I started to see the kinds of numbers that led me to believe I had a real business.

Once you get in front of those people, spend as much time as you can learning about their business and their problems. Make them feel comfortable and see you almost more as a consultant, ask questions about to help them open up, and eventually you will find those 3-4 major problems that you can find a way to solve.

Experiment with different sales methods

Your targeted buyers are only as valuable as the methods being used to place your product in front of them.  Whether you decide to use cold calling, sit-down presentations with executives, advertising on tv or radio, you must precede those decisions with identifying the most attractive selling points of your product or service.

Often times visual demonstrations are a great way to hook audiences, but be prepared to follow-up with your strongest selling points. Even the most attractive demonstrations leave buyers skeptical about “a catch,” so education is key.

Finding the right method for your business will require a lot of experimentation, and sometimes what appeals most about your product or service may just surprise. Experiment beyond advertising, as well, and consider that price points are as strong or stronger than even the best marketing displays.

Practice being in front of an audience

At some point you will have the opportunity to sell your business in front of a group, so you’ll want to be ready for that momentand I would advise against the ‘winging it’ strategy.

Learn and practice how to present yourself with positive body language, how to clearly answer questions from your audience, and most importantly how to peek and sustain their interest. Realize that the audience cares about only what they care about, and the most effective sales pitches cater to their interests and benefits.

Have an online presence

This may be the last but most practical piece of advice for any entrepreneur: there’s roughly $1.2M generated in online sales every 30 secondsnow go out and getchoo a piece of those buyers!!!!

The Internet played a major factor in my company’s successful leap because of our use of online marketing and advertising via AdWords. Having a website is critical for breaking into new markets, and a well-built site will do wonders for your credibility.

Moreover, showcasing your products or services online via testimonials, storytelling, videos, or other graphic displays will give your sales campaigns a serious boost. This is especially important if you’re like me and selling to other businesses, as a reported 94 percent of B2B buyers research online before purchase decisions, and the story is similar for consumer products, as 89 percent of buyers do the same.

 

Posted in: Sales Tips

Attracting Sales Candidates Using Content Marketing

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Content is king: attracting sales candidates through effective content marketing

The reality is that not everyone has the same brand clout as Google, Apple, Microsoft, so competing for the best sales candidates can be a difficult task for the rest of the businesses looking to attract top sales talent. However, smaller marketing budgets and lower salaries doesn’t mean you’re automatically relegated to second-tier talent.

For example, if you can tell your businesses story through compelling recruiting content, you can build engagement with prospects that big ad budgets simply can’t buy. Obviously, the goal is to garner the most attention from top talent and attract the most traffic to your website or job posting. You can accomplish this by focusing on creating content that drives applications and interviews is the lynchpin to generating  interestand this where you can win.

Consider this, a survey by GlassDoor found that 78 percent of sales professionals would accept less money to work for a company selling something “compelling” and 76 percent say they want details on what them attractive to work for.

However, most companies ignore focusing on recruiting content and are missing the boat on an opportunity to separate from the competition.

content is king image

Here are 6 tips to boost your content marketing for recruiting:

The proof is in the puddinghave senior employees blog about their experience, how it’s changed their life, how they got to where they are through mentoring, training and systems in place, how you listen to feedback and created an inclusive environment or any other key workplace experiences you want to illicit.

What’s good for the goosecurrent employees are one of the best sources of qualified referralls as they often spend time with individuals of similar interests. Create incentive programs where current employees post articles or job openings on their social networks and provide bonuses if/when referrals are hired

The job isn’t for everyonepicture the right person who would rock that job and try to think of all the traits they possess. When you get specific about what you’re really looking for, it allows you to rewrite the information around the job description to appeal to exactly that person  

Be positivenot all online reviews are fair or truthful in their criticisms, but their presence alone will evoke negative first impressions. A business with 50 positive reviews can be compromised by a single negative one can stoke skepticism from job seekers

Differentiateshowcase how your product/service is changing the world. Even it’s just slightly better than the competition, you need to highlight why it better than other options and what that opportunity brings. If you’re just another sales job then what’s the point of signing up?

Be Socialuse all channels to promote when the company wins awards, achieves milestones or signs a new customer. This helps to bring the company and its positive profile into the mainstream and incites candidates to reach out on their own so they’re part of something special.

 

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Case Study: Door to Door Energy Deregulation Hiring Success

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its energy headquarters

 

HR directors are often placed in difficult spots when their company has a successful run and decides to implement an aggressive growth strategy. On one hand, the company must hire en masse in order to reach revenue goals, but on the other hand, what is quantity without quality and committed professionals?

IGS Energy was positioned in this state just a short time ago. As one of America’s largest independent suppliers of natural gas and electricity with over 1 million customers in 11 states, the sales team is driven by a door-to-door sales staff, referred to as In Home Energy Consultants. Going into 2013 full steam ahead, the company saw a ripened time and place to initiate a rapid expansion plan in order to break into key new markets.

The Problem

The company’s expansion efforts required an aggressive hiring plan, but this wasn’t going to be accomplished by traditional methods. IGS HR Director Stacey Labarre explained that before Time to Hire she would recruit via job boards, Craigslist, local newspaper ads and career fairs, but ultimately couldn’t hire at a fast-enough pace to fill the needed positions.

Labarre was fighting a losing battle as the turnover was happening so fast that even when she could fill one position, another one would open up because of a lost worker. Further complicating the issue was the immense competition for talent in the marketplace, plus the time and resources it took to make a hire. On average it would take IGS 60-90 days to search and fill these positions and then orient new hires to the work.

Thus IGS was facing a critical bottleneck with their energy deregulation sales team. The boots-on-the-ground simply couldn’t support the output of services that leadership was pushing as part of the expansion. Net-net, IGS had tapped out local territories for new candidates, and sales were stalling as a result.

The Solution

Labarre welcomed the help of an outsider, particularly if it could include some sort of automated support. When she learned about Time to Hire, it was a no-brainer to give it a shot. Her first campaign exposed all the qualified sales rep leads she was overlooking, whether they were on different job boards, located in regions she hadn’t considered to be viable, or simply because their resumes were slightly different than what she initially considered.

Time to Hire used criteria provided by Labarre to scour popular job boards in search of sales candidates with the right kind of work experience, allowing her to then cherry pick from a pool of the best candidates. Within two days, Labarre had in her possession a list of candidates deep enough to meet the intense hiring requirements, but also filled with people who presented the right skills and personalities for the job.

“It was like having the best assistant imaginable. I set a criteria and let it go to work, and within a couple business days I had a list of people in the right locations who I would have spent weeks looking for,” Labarre said. “My job had become such a guessing game and searching for needles in a haystack, but with the service I was able to focus more on interviews and assembling a quality door-to-door sales staff.”

The Results

Labarre continues to run Time to Hire campaigns and now credits the service with supplying IGS of at least 75% of their Home Energy Consultants hired in the time since they ran their first campaign. To date, the company has run about 160 hiring campaigns and has hired more than 500 door to door energy deregulation sales reps through the service, which has allowed the company to establish a regional presence, with continued hopes to keep developing with their territories as well as expanding into new ones.

Labarre has said the company plans to scale its use of Time to Hire to find district sales managers as they build out their new solar division.

“As a hiring manager, you know exactly who you want to hire, but it’s not always easy to find those people,” she said. “Time to Hire is the bloodhound that’s going to track them down for you, and in bunches.”

Posted in: Case Studies, Time to Hire

Hiring Insurance Sales Reps: A Winning Strategy

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hst logoWhen Grant Born worked as a division manager for a health insurance company called Health Markets in the mid-2000s, his team needed a spark to climb from its dead-last ranking for internal sales performance. Born turned to Time to Hire, revamped his sales team, and within a year was churning out numbers that ranked among the best in the company.

That experience stuck with Born when he co-founded his own company Healthcare Solutions Team (HST) in 2007, but it took a similar predicament to spark his interest in the service once again. HST launched with 14 agents and its market reach was constrained to the greater Chicago area.

Born knew his company had to expand from the highly competitive Chicago marketplace to sustain consistent growth, but to do that required hiring insurance sales reps to cover more ground. He tried to recruit in the leanest way possible, sifting through online resumes and attending the occasional job fair or trade show to find new talent, but when the effort outnumbered the marginal results, he knew a change had to be made. Even with those he could hire, the turnover of the industry was too overwhelming and he spent the majority of his time maintaining a sales staff rather than growing his business.

He turned back to Time to Hire with the goal in mind to build-out a national sales team of independent, commission-based health insurance sales contractors. With immediate success, Born has continued to run Time to Hire campaigns to this day on a weekly basis, and in that time HST has grown into a force of 558 agents operating across 47 states, along with 24 brick-and-mortar offices, all of which has added-up to a $20M business.

“Our business is two equal parts: sales and recruiting,” Born said. “They work hand-in-hand, so to drive sales we need more insurance agents and vice-versa, meaning our business needs to be recruiting at all times.”

As Born describes, however, many sales candidates lack insurance backgrounds and it can be a tough job to sell to newcomers. Insurance agents in most states are required to be licensed, and to make the job worth their while, some agents will need to be licensed in multiple states to expand their customer base. Also, with no base salary and startup costs, such as licensing, and the truth that insurance isn’t the glitziest profession, and Born says he’s run into many candidates who actively avoid insurance related jobs.

The insurance sales industry is also prone to rampant turnover, which drives many candidates away. For HST, while the top third of its agents are relatively stable, the bottom third is continually in-flux.

“Overall it tends to be a high-turnover business, which is why we’re constantly recruiting to be maintaining our sales volumes,” Born describes. “In this business, however, we beat the industry average for retention rate, and that’s because we have enough candidates coming in the door to allow us to be selective.”

Born uses the Time to Hire platform to narrow search results to sales candidates with self-employment experience or sales experience, as candidates without the right background have presented too big of a risk in previous hires for the company. His company performs group interviews consisting of 3-10 candidates, and also allows the option to webcast those interviews so agents that can’t attend in person can watch a webinar.

This approach has saved Born time, money, and effort, but more importantly it’s ensured that his company sustains growth with a committed and talented sales team.

“Time to Hire does the heavy lifting of recruiting,” Born said. “It’s very streamlined, very straightforward, compared to what we used to do within online marketing or newspaper ads, it’s much more effective and the difference is the phone rings with candidates who are looking for a job: which was always our biggest struggle.

“We used to go to trade shows and pay extraordinary fees to get into job fairs and shows and spend an ungodly amount of time sorting through candidates without ever getting that great of a result. For the amount of money we invest, Time To Hire is by far the most effective way of easily and quickly hiring insurance sales reps.”

HST continues to run anywhere from 8 to 20 Time to Hire recruiting campaigns per week, resulting in about a 7-day turnaround to interview and a 10-day turnaround period from first introduction to hiring for chosen candidates.

Born’s sales staff has grown 4,000% in just eight years, and he credits the majority of his hiring success to Time to Hire, which he says drives about 80 percent of his company’s recruiting efforts, with the remaining efforts occurring by word-of-mouth. In recognition of the company’s impressive growth rates, Crain’s Chicago Business ranked HST at number 16 for fasting growing Chicago businesses.

Moving forward, Born will continue to promote from within, acquiring agents through Time to Hire to eventually move up the ranks.

“My only frustration is we don’t have enough people running and using the service regularly,” he says. “If we had more leaders in the company working with Time to Hire then we’d certainly see better recruiting results, but yeah we certainly plan to continue moving forward with the service for a long time.”

grant born

Posted in: Case Studies, Time to Hire

How to Create a Sales Process for Your Business

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Create a Sales Process for Your Business

By: Chad Bronstein, CEO of Time to Hire

You hear the term “well-oiled machine” used in business, but to what does it refer? Most often it’s the sales process the collective methods that drive sales on a consistent basis seemingly without need for oversight. While the use of this phrase tends to overlook the daily grind that’s required to have a self-sustaining sales process, it does capture the gravity a sales process has upon a successful organization. 

sales process

Obviously automation allows for more time and effort to be spent elsewhere and promotes consistency and security, but reaching this state is not possible without time and dedication. Believe it when we say there are no shortcuts here, but we can offer four pillars to success that will get you started down the right path:

SCRIPT YOUR APPROACH

Developing the right script will require a lot of trial and error, but over time sticking to a script will help your sales staff sell clients beyond a reasonable doubt. You know you have an effective script when clients have their questions answered as they listen. This is only accomplished by making calls a lot of them until you’ve gained a well-rounded view of your product/service as well as your client base.

I’ve used a script in my business since the day I hired my first sales rep, and it’s been an evolving process ever since. At this point, our phone calls consist of an average of 1-2 questions from the prospective client, improving from an average that started out closer to 9-10, and the increased clarity and conviction with our pitch has improved closing rates as a result.

I’ve also heard the debate for allowing good salespeople to explore their own methods and steer from the script, but from my experience and in talking with my clients who manage sales reps it’s known that when allowed to go off-the-cuff, salespeople will drag out conversations with clients and closing rates will suffer. It doesn’t matter whether the script is read off the paper or by memory, but what is important is identifying the shortest way to address your client’s concerns and instill the confidence that your product/service will address those questions with a reassuring response.

HIRE MULTIPLE SALES PEOPLE

Does your sales engine run off good process or good staff? Hopefully both, but in theory a good salesperson can succeed in spite of a bad process, just as a bad salesperson can possibly cause unneeded problems for a well-designed process. So how do you discern? Hire multiple salespeople and try to stick to hiring impressionable minds that are willing to learn and stick to the script most of whom tend to be younger candidates. Older and more experienced candidates may be more set in their ways, but as long as they can witness proven and sustainable success, most won’t present too much of an issue.

EXPERIMENT WITH PRICING

Not just the price points, either, but also with how prices are conveyed. A funny thing happened when I first began selling my service: Back then I included a flat service fee along with a setup fee, which accounted for the research and information-gathering involved with forming campaigns for first-time customers. The responses I received from about 5 percent of first-time customers would be a reluctance to paying for any “setup fees.” For these people it was a non-negotiable selling point, a flat-out refusal. So to avoid this, I simply merged the service fee and the setup fee into one overall price, and we haven’t received a single complaint about price ever since. The price point was never the issue, but adjusting something as minor as the price breakdown can make the difference.

To avoid getting yourself or your sales reps tangled in deliberations with customers about pricing or discounts, deliver your product/service in one neatly-tied package with every fee accounted for.

BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOU WHO HIRE

I only discovered virtual business practices once I was forced into it, but the results have surprised my expectations. Before I was limiting recruitment to my local area, but a nationwide campaign allowed me to hire candidates that saved money and maintained the integrity of the sales process. Home employment, for example, is appealing to those seeking a second income or who just want to earn some extra cash without having to leave their household, and remote employees offer many fiscal benefits.

Remote employees may not be possible for every business, but be willing to hire outside of your bounds and find creative ways for different personalities to succeed in your business. This will expose you to a candidate pool with a higher density of talent, and will promote your efforts to establish an effective sales process.

 

Posted in: Sales Tips

How to Compete for Your Audience’s Attention and Win!

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Competing for your audience’s attention – winning with picture perfect pitches!

No matter if you’re at the front of a conference room, in an elevator, or on a golf course, knowing how to pique someone’s interest and keep their attention is an invaluable skill to have on-hand for any situation.

air horn

A career in sales will acclimate people pretty quickly to the art of pitching, but it’s by no means exclusive to the sales industry, as anyone can be put in a position where they have a product or idea to sell. It’s an acquired skill that sales pros utilize on a frequent basis, and for some it comes more naturally than for others, but the fundamentals remain true for everyone.

With that in mind, here’s a plan for making picture perfect sales presentations for more effective closing:

First off, pick your audience wisely

It may sound obvious but overlooking this step and presenting to the wrong buying audience can you leave you floundering before you walk in the room. Target an audience, then press upon them that  “anything else is truly a waste of time!”. If you do find yourself facing an un-interested buyer, try to probe and find out the issues facing them, then help by referring them to someone in your network.

Know what’s interesting and build upon that subject

The key to a sale is knowing the buyer’s interests and reinforcing your pitch to further those interests. Have a mindset that you’re presenting because you want to help your buyers first and yourself second. To do this you must keep ahold of their attention. Where distraction is abundant and shared instantaneously, you have to compete against the audience to win their interest.

Indeed, people have less patience to listen to anything aside from what they want to hear, so play into this by learning about them, getting to know what’s on their mind with regard to (insert your idea here), and then connect your idea or product to fit their vision.

Refrain from using the “short attention span” card as an excuse. If you see your audience nodding off, be cognizant enough to know that it’s not an attention span issue, it’s your presentation not being directed at whatever they’re interested in discussing. Also, it’s your responsibility to phrase and present in terms they can understand. Don’t overlook this simple but fundamental ideal.

Ask active questions

If you feel there’s an issue you’re not addressing, just ask. Active questioning keeps the audience on-topic, but more importantly it will help you identify the triggers that are going to influence their buying decisions.

Not to pick on car salesman, but most people who buy a car will experience at least once a salesman who talks incessantly about details that don’t matter to the buyer. People are picky about their cars, so it makes sense the first words out of the salesman’s mouth should be questioning that person’s style: What models are you interested in? What do you need in a car? What else have you looked at?

Asking about subjects that conform to the prospect’s vision will also put them in a “buyer’s state of mind”. Moreover, once you find the right sticking points you can narrow your approach and leave out anything extraneous.

Learning how to phrase a question is also a skill in its own right, but for anyone who is inexperienced, the most basic principle is to ask questions that encourage the prospect to say “yes.”

Body language and state-of-mind can be a difference maker

Body language is something you should practice before a presentation (and in general) to help yourself be more engaging and approachable. Presenting with negative body language is one of the fastest ways to discomfort your audience from the start and cause them to tune-out, so needless to say, we want to avoid that.

There’s no need to trouble over your looks so much that it becomes a distraction, but be aware that people are adept at reading emotional intent through your gestures. This is why a confident, composed, and secure state-of-mind will help you act and respond with a natural confidence that is all your own.

Invite feedback and be conversational

Consider that the audience feels a pressure to be listening, so a friendly and conversational atmosphere will make it easier for them to listen to you.

The best place to start is with an introduction that “hooks” the audience to your product or idea. Again, your aim should be to benefit their work or livelihood, so go into the presentation anticipating questions and prepared responses so you can answer in a conversational manner.

For a tip in group presentations, try interacting directly with one person at-a-time and then use those responses to carry you through the presentation. This and other tips will encourage people to toss around out ideas and feed you with questions, allowing you to sell them on their own interests and ideas. 

Posted in: Sales Tips

Mastering Business to Business Networking

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Mastering Business to Business Networking: Three Pronged Plan for Success

by Chad Bronstein

people having coffee


Broadening your client base is the lifeblood of growth, and it begins with knowing how to network and attract new business. The odd truth for achieving this? To get business, first you have to give.

For any networking event—whether it be an international conference, a local trade show, or online—the most impressionable and memorable people are those who facilitate relationships and put others in touch with the people fit to solve their problems; and they are also the biggest beneficiaries and receive the most favorable returns as a result of their altruism.

With an estimated 88 million attending some sort of convention, conference, or trade show on an annual basis, along with the 364 million accounts on LinkedIn, business networking opportunities in are seemingly boundless. Any good marketer or growth leader should capitalize on these opportunities as often as possible, but there are certain ways to go about it. With that in mind here’s a three-pronged plan for success:

DON’T ALWAYS GO IT ALONE

The point of a conference or trade show is to get noticed and to interact with as many potential clients as possible. Thus in order to cast a wider net, team with a strategic non-competitive partner that is targeting a similar demographic. Whether sharing a booth or neighboring booths, a cooperative approach smooths introductions and betters your chances to receive referral business.

Also, should the referrals you send be well-received, you’ve successfully made a positive and memorable impression on that referral and increased the likelihood of reaping some benefits from them in the future. A third benefit of teaming with a partner? Sharing a booth cuts expenses for the often pricey real estate of the convention room floor.

EQUIP YOURSELF WITH A DIVERSE PORTFOLIO OF CONTACTS

The only problem with being at an event with so many people is that your presence can be diluted in the sheer magnitude of the event. It’s not enough to introduce yourself and your business, or even to have engaging conversation—you have to make a splash to be remembered after all the charm and booze has worn off. To do that you must provide real value to other people, as most everyone is looking out for their company first and foremost. If you can build relationships with other leaders and become known as a trustworthy resource who provides real solutions, then odds are they’ll reciprocate the favor when given the chance.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION WITH REAL AND RELEVANT IDEAS

Whether in person or posting to an online forum, the essence of effective B2B networking remains: convey you are a credible and reliable source of knowledge, information, and contacts. Online forums—preferably those with trustworthy users, such as LinkedIn—are excellent mediums to meet and interact with industry leaders who may have otherwise been outside of your market. Use it as a chance to introduce new people to your contacts in your tight networking circle and to make connections a.k.a. generate leads.

The fastest way to lose credibility online, however, is by overtly acting as a shill for yourself or for somebody else. Don’t give the impression that you’re conversing in order to score a quick buck—the ideas you spring should come from of the place of a friendly neighbor who’s willing to loan his tools for the betterment of the neighborhood. After enough time and exposure, people will view you as an informative expert, of sorts, and see your face and your business and be conditioned with positive correlations. It’s just another way of giving back, through your time and your information, and at the same time expanding your own network.

Simply put, you should seek to find as many instances as possible to use the phrase, “Oh I see you’re looking for some advice on x, allow me to connect you with (business) who knows some bit about that to point you in the right direction.”

The world is always in-demand for problem solvers and the payouts can be priceless for those who do it right.

Posted in: Sales Tips

How to Get Client Referrals

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How to Get Client Referrals

how to get referrals

Referrals are important for any service business. In today’s economy with so much traffic and advertising being driven by the Internet, customers are skeptical. To be specific, 3 out of 4 don’t trust online advertising, so when a prospective customer visits your site for the first time odds are they will be cautious and looking for some form of reassurance—namely, customer reviews or client referrals.

Referrals show-off real success stories of real companies that are comprised of smart people making well thought-out decisions. For new customers, referrals essentially show that someone else has done the background research and invested their own time and money to prove the waters are safe.  

When in a startup phase, it’s a real challenge trying to overcome this skepticism. In the early days of my company, typically about 3 or 4 callers out of 10 remained suspicious of our service even after we outlined all the details and offered full-disclosure of the process and fees. Crazy as it seems, the truth is most people would rather miss-out on a great opportunity than run the risk of being scammed. However, once a few prominent and recognizable company logos were displayed on our referral section, the ‘skeptic rate’ dropped to maybe 1 in 10— and with the addition of our tutorial “explainer” video that visually detailed our service, the suspicion rate is now practically non-existent.  

So it’s great that referrals can be such an effective and mostly free marketing tool, but no one is really debating that. The biggest issue with referrals is attaining them in the first place, so here are some techniques we deployed at Time to Hire that helped us get those so very valuable positive words back from our clients:

MAKE IT PART OF EVERY CONVERSATION

This is a part of the service industry anyways: asking for the client’s opinion and review of the experience. Service businesses remain appealing through positive customer experiences, so as an eventuality you must ask for feedback, so why not ask via a referral request to get the ball rolling? For most customers, it’s familiar ground and something they can appreciate, particularly if the favor is posed correctly. Some tried and true phrasing of mine, “I’m a small business and this is how we market our services—trying to make customers happy and hoping you tell other people. Do you know anyone else who might be in need for our services?” It’s an effective way of saying, “Your word is an asset for my business.”

TRACK YOUR CLIENT BASE AND SEND AUTOMATED EMAILS

If direct calls aren’t your speciality or if a particular client can’t be reached via phone, you can implement an automated email system to request for you. I utilize both for my company, with automated requests running through a simple system set in-place: after success stories, we check the ‘happy’ box in our database and an email goes out to the customer asking them to please submit an online review as well as fill out a survey. We’ve generated hundreds of referrals this way.

MAKE REFERRING YOUR COMPANY AS EASY PROCESS

Offer a link or shortcut on the company website where customers can script and send and be done with it. Often times, writing a referral for someone can begin to feel like a chore more than a favor because of the steps required to get it done. Having a streamlined process will also make for easier conversation when it’s time to ask, as you can simply direct them to your site to click the referral link.

INCENTIVIZE THEM!

Implement discounts or cash incentives for both the customers who submit and the employees who ask. If a customer pens a formal referral for my company, we offer $75 cash or $100 in credit toward their next use of our service. For employees, a small cash sum is incentive enough to get them to bring up the subject, and once they do it enough and get comfortable with it, asking will become habit and drive more success.

GET ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Many people and businesses are actively conversing on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, so use it as a chance to throw your hat in the ring and get the conversation rolling in favor of your business. Use these sites to tag your customers and extend your appreciation for their business—you may not always receive a nod back your way, but it’s a numbers game and over time the positive feedback will start rolling in.

Posted in: Sales Tips

Understanding Your Sales Style to Maximize Profits

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Understanding your sales style to boost your value as a sales pro

The most impressionable comment I ever received about my sales style was that I “had an honest face.” In this line of work, some may view this kind of forthright demeanor as a detriment, but I was able to harness its power and over time parlayed it into a priceless sales tool for myself.

Three Doors

As sales professionals, we rely on our natural-born instincts when the pitch goes awry or when some unforeseen circumstance arises and challenges our preconceived strategies. So accepting your most natural sales style can become of great importance as you decide to walk further down this career path.

I’ve both managed and worked alongside thousands of sales pros and dealt with all the associated personalities, and I now operate an online service that matches sales pros with companies that will best utilize their talents, but even my software cannot read valuable sales traits such as personality, motivation, or relatability. For this, I reminisced on my own experiences and discovered that three distinctive sales styles emerged to define the sales community: closers, consultative sales pros, and networking specialists.

I would advise that any sales professional integrate elements of all three into their repertoire – closing abilities, consultative skills, and widespread personal networks – but frankly, certain strategies produce better results than others for each individual. As such, I’ve broken down the defining traits of each style and offered some perspective of which industry is best suited for each:

Closers

This involves more than having a quick wit. Closers are best trained for the sale that must be made during the first and possibly the only interaction with the customer. It’s a fitting occupation for those who are resilient and able to cope with rejection, as most times if the sale doesn’t close during the initial interaction then the customer is likely lost for good. As a result, true closers are few and far in between. They are valued for their ability to generate high volume sales, which is only accomplished by those who can move on quickly from one customer to the next. That is the key trait they possess that drives success.

The sales pitch for these individuals is both consistent and versatile, but it’s also vital for a closer to recognize when the pitch isn’t selling. No matter the obstacles, a true closer is relentless but not overbearing, and can find a way to relate with any client on a down-to-earth level.

Industries best fit for ‘closer’ mentalities: door-to-door sales, insurance sales, annuities, home services, auto sales

Consultative sales pros

‘Consultative’ most often refers to those with complex products or services that aim to solve large infrastructural problems. These salespeople are likely to have long sales cycles and may have to work closely with high-level executives  for weeks or months to close a single sale. For this, you’ll most often associate consultative sales pros with expensive products and services.

Sales pros in this position know how to identify problems within an organization and accept the responsibility of determining the best course of action for their customers. This requires an ability to engage with analytical and detail-oriented decision makers, so having a deep understanding of the product or service is essential in order to make clientele feel comfortable about the product and move forward with its implementation.

This style is fit for individuals who have a lot of patience and endurance, are willing to accept pitfalls in their carefully crafted plans, and also use long-term creative strategies to get the sale back on track.

Industries best fit for ‘consultative’ mentalities: software, design or custom creation, tech-enabled products and services

Networking Pros

You’ll find them at chamber events and local networking events schmoozing and entertaining their colleagues, but what you may not recognize is the genius behind the madness. Networking is the one aspect of sales that I value the most as a business owner because a business can thrive almost exclusively on well organized networking when done correctly.

This is done by greatly by generating leads from elite circles and then pushing those first connections deeper into related trades and industries, which in turn will expand a company’s client base faster than any other means. By focusing on garnering friendships and simply getting my foot in the door, I’ve been able to arrange appointments that before may have seemed out of my league. Really what I’m doing is what can be called a “one call close,” meaning I use a likeable personality to present myself as trustworthy, but when performed correctly it’s one of the most lucrative approaches to breaking into new markets and garnering a plethora of leads and contacts.

When you become a networking pro, you can refer outsiders to those within your network and build mutually-beneficial business relationships, which in turn open new doors for your own business.

Industries best fit for networking specialists: Local service businesses seem to be the best fit, however, industry is almost irrelevant so long as connections are valued highly and maintained appropriately. It’s important to stay connected with both the major players within your industry as well as closely related industries.

My favorite networking related book is ‘Endless Referrals’ by Bob Burg.  Happy selling!

 

Posted in: Sales Tips

How to Sell Your Commission Only Job to Candidates

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FIVE STRATEGIES TO SELL YOUR COMMISSION ONLY JOB TO CANDIDATES

By: Chad Bronstein

The hiring season has come around once again for your company. In some ways these are exhilarating times, but underneath lies a sense of anxiety. It’s a tough sell to attract premier talent to your company, but the good news is you’ve already recognized the most important fact of all: that what you’re doing – hiring commission based sales reps – is a sale in-of-itself.

manager negotiates with sales candidate

In gritty and practical terms, you’re basically communicating to candidates, “Hey, I’d like you to come work for me but I can’t guarantee you’ll make any money.” This is why most commission-based salespeople have to be ‘sold’ on the idea of entering this line of business. Depending on the sales structure, most commission opportunities only offer to pay as much as their salespeople accomplish and, knowing this information, many candidates back away from the idea. So how does a hiring manager counter these defections? Over time I’ve learned to apply sales methods to the hiring process, and here are a few I’ve spelled out to get started:

IT’S A NUMBERS GAME – JUST LIKE SALES

Strategize your hiring approach as if finding the ideal candidate is a numbers game. The conversion rate in this business can be brutal, and you may find that after arranging 10 interviews, only three show up and out of those you get one qualified candidate. In a way it’s healthier to lower expectations, as most hiring managers try as hard as they can – even cutting against the grain – to reach candidates, and are left reciprocally discouraged and disappointed.

The best starting point I’ve found is to plan to hire more than one person, and when the opportunities are commission-only then you should hire as many as you can handle, keeping as many good workers as you can but also willing to make necessary cuts. Even when limited to one opening, hiring at least two workers is a healthy way to inspire competition within your company. In due time – about a month, in my experience – it will become apparent that one is better than the other(s), but together they may be so productive to justify retaining both. To some this can be overzealous and unappealing, but once the competitive nature kicks-in and begins to drive results, owners quickly realize the favors of a multi-hire process. You want candidates to covet your job opportunity, and there is no better way than to have them perform side-by-side on the battlegrounds!

THIS IS THE HARDEST JOB TO RECRUIT FOR

As the founder of Time to Hire, I connect hiring companies with candidates, but some report back – often during their initial run – that they couldn’t land the ideal candidate, or worse that they couldn’t even get candidates to show up for the interviews. This is a problem my employees and I try to communicate as ‘normal’ because one of the most trying aspects of this business is that you’re going to fail, and sometimes there won’t be a clear, definitive answer as to ‘why?’ Success is knowing how to bounce back, namely by continuing to refine your process until you can find some proven methods.

Your pitch, who you have conducting the interviews, whether you interview over the phone vs. in-person, what questions you ask: these are all factors that play into a candidate’s psychology of whether they accept you, your company, and your job opportunity. The impression you give to candidates is comparable to how people feel about restaurants – it could be bad service, bad food, or anything else, but once you lose the candidate’s good faith then your chances for success depreciate considerably.

Therein lies the Catch 22: There are so many factors for success that you have a pretty high likelihood for failure simply because you’re not fully aware of what’s going to happen. In fact, some of the most common feedback I receive from hiring businesses is “we’ll just have to be better prepared next time.”

What I try to inform is that failure is an integral part the process. In a competitive market, how else can you expect to better yourself than by getting knocked down a few times? It’s a nuanced skill learned by trial-and-error to convince an industrious individual to come work for you, knowing all the other opportunities available to them. Like a good sales process, you have to be flexible, adaptable, and open-minded, and then willing to lay it on the line with ambitious hiring techniques. Doing this, you may just find a few gems that will staple your company’s hiring process for years to come.

TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING

An attractive business has a support system in place – in other words, employees who are willing and able to guide new hires through their early tribulations. This starts up-front when introducing candidates to the job. It’s pivotal during these initial exchanges to paint the job with honesty and candor, and to let them know how intensive the calls, networking, and groundwork will be without a whole lot of compensation off the bat. This embeds trust in your employees from the start and preemptively defends you from the “I’m working too hard without enough money” conversations.

An effective model to establish trust works all the way up through management. The result is management having a stake in the performance of the employees underneath them; while incentivizing managers to groom new hires and position them for success. Common practices include daily training exercises for informing about the product or service, how to sell it, tips and tricks, the approach, and a general array of topics to cycle through with each new stream of new employees. This keeps everyone in the organization sharp on the business, including management.

Another tact that builds a strong support system is to organize new hires with people who seem to be on a similar career arc. Utilize proven employees to lead new hires into the waters by mirroring cold calls, walking through different strategies and approaches, and having them them train and learn together. This stabilizes confidence-levels throughout the early times and gives new hires a tangible vision of their future prospects with the company.

Taking this approach a step further, arrange ‘rah-rah’ meetings to get together and celebrate small and large victories throughout the company. Anyone who’s been in a sales rut knows the associated feeling of despair, but once you get a sale or two behind you and suddenly have a room full of people clapping for your success, the confidence rises. Even if employees sense it’s all a mirage, positive reinforcement has a slew of advantages for your business.

THE BEST SALES ARE PERFORMED IN PERSON

I advise my clients that it’s alright to interview on the phone at first, but to use that time to gain a commitment to an in-person interview. There are just too many factors that are out of a hiring manager’s control when interviewing over the phone: missed calls, easy cancellations, and candidates feeling less of a connection to you and your company than an in-person interview.

To prepare, you need to first know what your goals are for the interview. My goal is one simple objective: to get the candidate to commit to an in-person interview. In my mind this should be the only goal because it’s the necessary next step to a hire, otherwise you won’t land top talent. Over the phone can be effective to drive interest, but keep pitches high-level and use the time to schedule a time to get the candidate in your office.

USE YOUR BEST RECRUITERS TO SCHEDULE INTERVIEWS

The person taking calls from candidates needs to have all the answers, or at least be able to improvise well enough to sell the main points for any question. Remember that you’re approaching the hire as a sale, and just like a regular sale, if the salesman spends time embellishing about cup holders or warranties that the customer’s didn’t ask about, then you’re talking your way to a dead-end.

Candidates are in a delicate spot when looking for a new job; they’re as hopeful as they are skeptical. Once tactic I like to use is ‘negative reverse sales,’ which promotes that by making something hard to achieve, you increase its relative worth to the listener. Try implementing selling points that challenge the candidate, for instance you could say,

“I don’t know if you realize, but this job can include working 50 hours a week for two years and making nothing, but we have guys who stuck to it and now pull half a million per year. But you must have the motivation.”

This can be beneficial in two ways: candidates appreciate the honesty, and they’re intrigued by the possibilities, both of which encourage them to interview in-person.

Throughout the process you’ll be asked questions from candidates that may be precarious to your position. You never want to lie, but it’s sometimes wise to not divulge all the information. Find ways, as the interviewer, to reinforce positive aspects of your company without sounding repetitive and to regain control of the conversation. It’s hard to do – really hard to do – but then again, so is sales, and that’s why we do what we do.

Posted in: Door To Door Salespeople, How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Attracting Talent to Your Online Job Postings

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Attracting Talent to Your Online Job Postings

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If you’re on this blog you know that it’s easy to post jobs on the Internet. Getting noticed by the best sales candidates, however, is another story!

The landscape for marketing job openings with potential candidates has changed dramatically in a few short years as networking, file sharing, and job boards have made a near full transition to being web-based activities. With more jobs than talent nowadays it’s a candidate-driven world, and that power allows them to sift through job openings by the handful.

This means it’s time to change the approach if you want to change your job posting from dirt to gold. Here are six ways to put a shine back on your postings:

Target keywords and phrases

First and foremost job browsers need a trail that leads to your posting which is contingent on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most have skated by with generic job descriptions and a logo, but it’s an impersonal approach. The correct usage of key terms in both the title and the job description will link your post to the most relevant searches, but you probably already knew that and think you’re implementing appropriately. But being a “top” search result isn’t worth much if the visitor skims over you or is drawn elsewhere. To make the most of what SEO has to offer, dress up the posting and appeal to the person behind the screen with better and more succinct keywords/phrases

Posts are really pitches, are you angling to reel in the right candidate?

The post is your hook, so know what sort of bait to attach. Part of this comes back to good SEO, but it’s also about knowing how to present yourself once the candidate is “in” and looking at your post. Think about being adaptable to any job-seeker that hovers over your post, and that requires a focus on the potential job-seeker, not the job opening. Don’t lose your recruit because of an inability to ‘wow’ their interest.

Also consider that during the vetting process most employers will monitor a candidate’s “cultural fit” as much as their credentials. Job seekers are aware of this and it can stiffen the air during initial exchanges. A posting that starts a dialogue is a great method for cutting this sort of tension, and it leaves the candidate without feeling intimidated, bored, or not intrigued by your job opening. If a job-seeker can wade through job boards and search engines, target on your post, and then feel welcomed to the opportunity, then you’ve won the game of attracting talent online.

Don’t be in a hurry. Trust the online process will work itself out.

No one said this would be a guarantee, but just remember that online is dominating the way candidates search for a job, so continue to maximize your chances with it. Keep in mind that it is possible to over-manage and take up too much of your hiring team’s time, so don’t fret too much over short-term hang-ups, just go on to the next posting.

Exit tunnel vision, cast a wide net

Keep the search open and available to the underdogs who may want to take a swing at your opening. Consider this a case of where being too specific can be detrimental. An attractive job posting appeals to many subsets of possible candidates. Even for opportunities that require a refined skillset, consider that recruiting and prospecting requires a willingness to keep an open mind. This also pushes positive SEO fundamentals because it will broaden the search terms.

Don’t fear that your post is a letter of commitment.

Open up the job requirements, compensation range, and other perks to pique more interest and drive more traffic. Candidates enjoy reading the specifics behind an opportunity, but it remains in your favor to leave some truth to their imagination. Sometimes it’s the responses to open questions that floor you, not necessarily having “the best resume”.

Speak the language of the people

A little humor and candid talk never hurt anyone. To invite clicks without coming off too strong, it’s good form to strike a tone that feels realistic and rewarding. Feed into the individualist mindset of the candidate and showcase some intangible features such as location, work schedules, company culture, and other personal benefits that make your opening seem well-suited to anyone. By keeping the ‘meat’ of the post more personal, you’re also granting yourself more space to maximize SEO in other areas and drive traffic to your post.

Happy hiring!

 

Posted in: Recruiting

Balance of Power – The Mechanics of Sales Hiring

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The Mechanics of Sales Hiring

115HWho’s hiring who? In today’s online-driven job market, who has the more advantageous position between the job-provider and the job-seeker? Both have good tools and resources on the Internet, both are networked, but still too often companies are overmatched by a candidate’s flexibility, and with so many postings on the Internet job-seekers limit applications to jobs that fit their skillset.

This puts pressure on the interviewer and the hiring manager to make a compelling presentation during the interview. With the onus on the company to attract the talent, it’s smart to leverage your position wherever possible. Here are my tips:

MIND YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

The first thing a candidate is going to research after coming across a job posting is the company website and the layout of the business. How your brand name shows up in search results is the catalyst to gaining the candidate’s trust, who weigh reviews as equal to personal recommendations. Companies who don’t pay attention to their online reputation have a problem with losing their prospects before they can even respond.

Also, bad reviews, while difficult to remove, are opportunities to respond with reason and legitimize your appearance as an attractive company to work for. Responses with bad reviews should offer some bit of compassion and courtesy to the reviewer, and then constructive response to the allegation.

In the same way companies are treating employees, treat candidates almost like they’re customers. They’re presented with job postings in settings that resemble online shopping, and in this scenario they have a buyer’s advantage because they can openly leverage job postings against each other. A bright online image is necessary to stand out.

PITCH THE JOB AS A COVETED POSITION

This isn’t a job looking for anyone, it’s a position that must be attained. Defining and marketing the job in a way that demands an optimal match shifts the pressure to the candidate to meet the expectations.

Group interviews, those that involve multiple candidates, are used to pit the competition between candidates, making your job the winning reward. This is an effective way to drive critical thought and problem solving from the candidates, which makes for a better hiring experience.

GET THE CANDIDATE IN YOUR OFFICE

It’s your home turf and you play by home team rules. The office setting opens avenues to discuss company specifics, like history and management, which drives interest from the candidate and compels them to consider the opportunity in different ways. The candidate arrives to the interview equally interested in the job and the organizational fit, so culture can influence, as well.

Simply removing the candidate from their phone or laptop can help you drive the conversation and the direction of their thought process. The candidate has skin in the game by getting out of bed and showing up, so take advantage of their commitment to hearing your pitch in person.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN OFFICE, GIVE YOURSELF A PHYSICAL LOCATION

It’s important to look the part of a legitimate business, and that’s hard to do without a physical location. Having an address is a simple way of reinforcing to the candidate that they’re not applying to work for a faceless corporation. Even a P.O. Box that reads normally as an address and resides in a building is a positive first step. If not a P.O. box, consider a mail receiving address in a large office complex. Many businesses find success making money without a physical address, but a lot of people remain in the paradigm of going to work for the collaborative and efficient environment.

It is also possible to perform interviews in a rented office or conference room.

TEST TEST TEST

Sustaining a long-term business means having to test everything associated with your company. Let’s use a website as an example, when you have visitors it’s hard to tell what they’re doing, but with the right test tools you can see where they’re clicking and then test different methods and different buttons. You have to do the same thing when you’re hiring. It’s just another sale and another test of your company’s health, so to shift the leverage of the interview into your favor, test the content of your pitch, adjust the way the conference rooms look, and finagle with any details you think could swing the interest of the candidate.

As the CEO of a service that bridges companies with candidates, I’ve seen that higher show rates – how often candidates show up to the interview – were common in companies who adopted different methods in their sales recruiting. For example, one strategy was to partner with companies in non-competing industries who are searching for similar people, and by creating these relationships you can preface an interview with the contingency that you can refer them to other companies if they’re not chosen. This simple change of thinking for the candidate makes the decision to commit to the interview and try their best to present a good image.

USE EMPLOYEES TO SELL THE OPPORTUNITY

Other employees of the company often provide good reference points for candidates to hang onto and grasp the essence of the business. Consider using their presence in the office to sell certain parts about the job and relate to the position of the candidate as an ex-job-seeker.

Video is also a great way to implement employee history and perspective. Anything that can give a glimpse into what it was like for a person to accept the job can settle doubts or concerns from the candidate. The visual medium also provides the candidate a picture of their career path.

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Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

How to Start a Service-Based Business

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We appeared in Business News Daily: How to start a service-based business: 4 tips.

 

Eventually, you may find that you’ll need to expand your business and hire full-time staff members. Chad Bronstein, CEO of sales rep hiring service Time to Hire, was hesitant to hire at first, but soon realized that he wasn’t able to do everything himself as his business evolved. He warned other entrepreneurs not to get to the point where they’re so overwhelmed that they need to make a rushed — and potentially poor — hiring decision.

“Building a team is important,” Bronstein said. “I waited too long and was in a situation where I had to hire someone immediately. [I needed] better planning and more time. Try to replicate yourself — don’t work in your business but on it.”

Read more on “How to Start a Service-Based Business” »

Posted in: Announcements

Selling Power Blog

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We were featured on Gerhard Gschwandtner’s Selling Power Blog last week!

How to Structure a Sales Compensation Plan

Selling Power Blog

Here is the text from the article:

Sales-commission structures can make or break business growth, yet many companies don’t give them the attention they deserve.

The key is to design, create, and implement a plan that continually evolves alongside the business. Organizations must have a clear understanding of the goals they’re trying to achieve and then tightly integrate them into the compensation structure so that it incentivizes actions that, not only promote growth, but have direct positive impact on employee earnings and the organization’s bottom line.

To get started, organizations need to do a reality check by considering these questions:

  • What size is the company?
  • How new is the company to the market?
  • How big is the company’s market share?
  • How long is the sales cycle?
  • What type of growth is the business trying to achieve?

Answering these questions will help determine the optimal commission structure. Remember, it should be aligned it with goals that drive increased profit.

Once these basic questions are answered, organizations should begin outlining a plan in four main areas:

  1. Strategy: Do you offer increasing commission over time or after a certain number of successful sales? You need to intentionally design the commission plan so it accelerates reps through the ranks.
  2. Payout structure: Will you pay reps a set rate per close or base pay on profit margin or something else? This depends on your business’s product/service.
  3. Performance benchmarks: How will you monitor, manage, and report to your sales team? Are there certain quotas to meet? What are the monthly or quarterly goals? Are sales reps competing against each other?
  4. Problem procedures: Issues can and will occur. What if two reps determine they have closed the same client? There must be a clear plan in place that eliminates debate or arguments.

Next, the management team needs to clearly communicate what the compensation plan is intending to accomplish. To do this, the plan should be

  • well documented and freely available to all staff and potential candidates;
  • extremely simple, with no fine print, legal language, or confusing words;
  • clear about what needs to be accomplished to reach certain goals;
  • fair and enticing to both the employer and employee.

Bonus tip: If the company is new, selling a new product, or entering a new market, it will require above-average compensation to attract the best salespeople. High-performing salespeople understand the value they bring. Before joining a new company, they consider the pros and cons by weighing potential earnings against potential risk.

Finally, organizations must consider the specific elements of a commission structure and calculate the fine details:

How do you figure out the acceptable payment range?

Many companies determine fixed commissions by looking at the cost per good sold and base that against potential profit and earnings. Unfortunately, this approach tends to be complicated, as it can be calculated by using just manufacturing costs or by adding marketing, administrative, and other expenses.

How do you choose a type of commission?

Companies that have room to negotiate price will typically use percentage of profit to drive the highest possible close. Others use a fixed commission per sale, but ideally there should be incentive for improvement by offering a commission “ladder.”

Additional considerations while working on a compensation plan:

  • Test out multiple structures over a certain time frame.
  • Ask candidates or current salespeople what would interest them.
  • Track all of the metrics involved in the commission structure.
  • Leave room in the budget for spur-of-the-moment sales contests.

By spending the additional time and effort to create a comprehensive plan, organizations can ultimately position themselves for higher growth.

 

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Time to Hire

425Business Article

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We scored this article in a local magazine, 425business.com.

425 Business Article

Here are the salient points of the article:

1. What are the current trends in sales hiring? 

There seems to be an overall increase in economic confidence that is causing people to hire more sales staff. Our customers’ revenue has risen about 25 percent over the previous year. As the economy continues to get better and confidence increases, employers will look to hire more salespeople in anticipation of better economic conditions. We’ve seen this type of growth activity in most of the major vertical markets we deal in, particularly door-to-door and home-improvement sales.

2. What makes hiring qualified commission-only applicants so difficult?

Hiring qualified commission-only applicants is difficult for a number of reasons. There are basically three types of people who will take a commission-only position. The first is proven superstar salespeople who can sell anything and will easily land on their feet almost anywhere they end up. The problem is that the vast majority of superstars are already working for someone else. Another type is someone who may be having trouble finding work in their chosen field and is therefore more likely to take a risk on a commission-based position. The third type would be a younger person that’s just out of school. Because superstars are rare, the qualified pool of candidates can be very small, and the onus is on employers to have a good process in place for hiring new sales reps. Employers need to set up intensive training programs that will quickly give the new rep a leg up and help ensure their success.

3. How can employers improve their recruiting efforts? 

A. Practice their pitch carefully. Candidates must be sold on the position without realizing they are being sold. If you come on too strong, it will push the candidate away.

B. Be committed to constant improvement of show rate, which is the percentage of candidates who actually show up for the interview. This is generally where the most improvement is needed. Most recruiters will be lucky to have a show rate of 20-40 percent. Really good recruiters with years of experience can achieve a 60 percent show rate for even the most difficult of jobs such as insurance and pest-control sales. One tactic is to promise the candidate that if the job is not a good fit, you will do your best to find another company that might fit better, and actually partner with other sales organizations for this reason.

C. Systematize the sales process. Don’t expect sales reps to create their own sales process or plan for your company. It’s up to you to plan and execute it. Understand that it is hard to hire sales people if you don’t understand your own sales process. That means you have to put your process into action and prove that it works before training others.

D. Learn how to avoid shooting from the hip when hiring. It’s easy to make mistakes such as hiring people you like or having a candidate sell you on themselves. Read books on the subject. Create your own hiring process that includes a scoring system.

E. Create a training environment. Have at least two group training sessions each week. Turn high-performing sales reps into sales managers, then have the managers perform most of the training sessions. Have new reps ride along with more experienced staff so they can see how to pitch in real time. Provide a phone room if possible so reps can hone their cold-calling skills and customer phone interactions. Put new sales reps that show promise next to high-performing sales reps so they can learn from the best.

F. Understand that as the owner, you must lead by example. Sales is a process, and you are not born with the skill. You must become an expert on the sales process by reading books and blogs, and by spending time in the field honing your pitch.

G. Hire as many sales reps as you can handle. Most won’t make it, and you’ll need a steady stream of reps coming through the door to be successful.

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Time to Hire

Motivation: The Key To Successful Sales Management

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Sales Team Motivation

How To Motivate Your Sales Team

When it comes to sales management, few things are as important as knowing how to properly motivate your team. Having a highly motivated sales team will improve your company’s performance in almost every important area including: time management, sales closing ability, and company morale.

But you already knew that, the real question is “How do you accomplish this?” How do you take a poorly performing sales team and infuse serious motivation into them? The answer to this question just might surprise you.

Understanding The Psychology Behind Motivation

In order to learn how to significantly increase the motivation of your sales team, you’ll need to understand the psychology behind it all.

In the old days, when an executive or sales manager wanted to drum up additional results, the answer was always “more money.” It was accepted as fact that money was the main motivator for a salesperson. Bonuses, pay increases, short-term sales competitions and many other money-related incentives were used to motivate sales people. In some cases, this would indeed work. But in others, for some reason, it seemed to do the opposite.

Why would financial incentives boost performance for certain workers, and decrease performance for others? A recent study conducted by researchers at MIT, among other universities, shed some light on this apparent paradox. The study examined motivation on a broad scale in regards to employee productivity.

It concluded that financial incentives help boost productivity under very specific circumstances: when the work being completed was purely mechanical. On the other hand, the study found that financial incentives actually decreased motivation and productivity for workers in intellectually-demanding positions.

The reason for this lies in the two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. The former refers to internal motivation (like how much an employee enjoys their job, or accomplishing their work) while the latter refers to external factors (like additional money, time off, or acknowledgements of achievement). Now, let’s not jump to conclusions. It’s not as simple as saying “money doesn’t motivate sales people.” In reality, the key to successful sales management lies in being able to create both types of motivation for your team.

Putting It Into Practice

Now let’s leave the theoretical world, and put this new information into practice in the real-world. Here are a few key skills that sales managers need to develop in order to effectively motivate their team:

Emotional Intelligence

This is the backbone of powerful sales management. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, empathize, and communicate with others. A lack of emotional intelligence leads to many problems for sales managers. Primarily, it leads to over-management, which is when a team is so closely “managed” that the individual members never get the ability to personalize their sales process. Your sales staff need to feel comfortable optimizing the sales approach to fit their personal strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, strong emotional intelligence is required to develop the following three skills.

Understand Your Team’s Various Personalities

If your company treats salespeople like a number on a spreadsheet (as opposed to individual people with varying desires), that is a serious problem. The key to producing the highest productivity and motivation will be different for each of your team members. Certain sales people are primarily motivated by financial incentives, while others will be motivated by completely different rewards.

Don’t try to force every team member into a “cookie-cutter” sales compensation planunless that is the only option. Over time, as a sales manager, it’s your job to assess and understand the various personalities of your team. Accomplishing this will greatly improve your ability to motivate reps, because you will better understand where they are coming from and what drives them to succeed.

Solid Company Culture And Work Relationships

Another key piece of motivating your sales staff is the quality of work relationships. In order to facilitate intrinsic motivation for your sales reps — which is not an easy feat — you should attempt to create the most inviting and attractive company culture. Your team members should feel as though they are, you guessed it, on a team.

But what about competitions and having sales reps compete against each other for rewards? The two aren’t mutually exclusive. If you are going to employ sales competitions to motivate and incentivize sales staff, make sure the contest is structured in a way that promotes unity among the team. Sales reps should feel as though they are fairly competing with their fellow team members, and not that they are being pitted against each other. The most powerful sales teams become a cohesive unit overtime, acting as a team, rather than a group of competing enemies. Notice the difference in these two approaches to sales management.

Personalized Motivators

Remember how it’s important to understand the different personalities of your team? This is similar: When it comes to incentivizing your sales team, think about what they really want. Take the time to find out what individually motivates each rep. You’ll quickly learn that only certain reps prefer financial incentives over alternative options.

Here are a few others: additional time off, company-sponsored certifications or training, random gifts, and internal career development programs. Ideally, each rep should be able to choose their own rewards (where you set the quota or deadline to meet). This provides for maximum motivation, because it guarantees that each rep has a strong reason to work their hardest.

Forward-Thinking Management

The next time you are looking for ways to improve your sales team’s motivation, look inward. Use the “what’s in it for me?” principle and examine the system used to motivate and drive your sales reps. As we’ve demonstrated today, the most powerful motivators vary from person to person.

The best you can do is attempt to personalize rewards, and design sales compensation plans (along with your management strategies), around facilitating this intrinsic motivation. Do everything in your power to coach and lead your sales team to their own personal success… and the motivation, along with massive growth for your company, will follow in due time.

Posted in: Sales Tips

How To Build A Compelling Value Proposition And Why It Matters

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How To Build A Value PropositionHow To Build A Value Proposition

There are very few universal rules of sales. Every interaction is unique: the people, the problems, and the solution. No matter what you’re selling, every customer will have a slightly different reason for making the purchase.

That’s where the value proposition comes in. As a salesperson, it’s your job to navigate the customer through every stage of the sales cycle. That can only happen if you have a very clear understanding of what matters to your potential customer. Today we’re going to walk you through the process of creating a compelling value proposition.

The Importance Of A Value Proposition

To put it simply: A value proposition is the amount of “value” you demonstrate to a potential customer during the sales process. Your potential customer will weigh the perceived value of your product against the perceived “cost” when they are making a final decision. If you have done a sufficient job pitching the value proposition and if — in the eyes of the customer — the pros outweigh the cons, you just made a sale. If not, you lose the sale.

It’s important to understand that the customer will be considering the perceived value and cost of your product. For example, a perceived cost could be an opportunity cost or the cost of installation. Another huge perceived cost (mainly pertaining to service providers) is the stress that will come from switching to a new provider. Think about it this way: If you are selling a cable TV service, you need to convince the prospect that your service is worth the financial cost AND the cost of having to cancel and cut ties with their current provider.

This is why a compelling value proposition is so important. One of the best ways to overcome these sales objections, and deliver the most powerful sales pitch possible, is to have a succinct value proposition that can be adapted to any sales situation.

The Real-World Implications

So how do you create this value proposition, and what does it entail?

It all starts with the customer. Let’s take a moment to consider everything involved in a successful close.

To convert a prospect into a customer, you need to:

  • Introduce the product in an interesting way to engage the prospect and grab their attention.
  • Demonstrate the standard benefits of the product.
  • Attach the “value” of the product to a desired outcome in the customer’s own interest.
  • Allay any and all objections to the sale.
  • Ask for the sale, and answer any last-minute questions/concerns.

That’s a typical door-to-door sales process, albeit over-simplified.

Do you notice the one huge problem with this sales breakdown? It’s impersonal. It’s not adaptable to any situation… and that means it will never allow a salesperson to close at their greatest potential. How many sales are lost because of a slight miscommunication? How many sales are missed because a salesperson was unable to bring to light the one minute objection that’s holding back a customer?

The problem is that normal sales pitches are crafted around the product. They are designed to hit on every possible selling point. They hammer benefit after benefit without taking into account the customer’s needs, wants, and desires. So what’s the smarter way to pitch? Crafting the pitch around the customer.

It might sound like semantics, but this is a very important distinction. If you want to sell as much as possible, you need to design your pitch — your value proposition — around the customer and their needs. Unfortunately, this means a one-size-fits-all approach will not be possible. To close the maximum number of prospects, you will have to dive deep into the mind of each individual prospect and deliver a pitch that hits on their specific needs. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds.

Designing Your Value Proposition

How many different types of customers do you have? For most products and services, you should be able to break your customer base into at least a few different segments. It depends on your industry, but for most businesses the easiest way to segment your customer base will be by demographics. For instance, customers in the same age range, location, and income range will typically share many views. In other words, they will have the same underlying needs, wants, and desires when it comes to your product (and often the same sales objections).

For each of your customer segments, think about what it takes to close a sale. You will likely notice that there is very little overlap. What matters a lot to one demographic will matter very little to another. This is exactly why your value proposition needs to be custom tailored for each customer.

Similarly, the way that you pitch your product should also be personalized to each segment.

For example, let’s look at building desire for your product. 

Here are three different ways you could approach this:

  • Pain – Focus on the main pain point of your product. Force the prospect to face the downside of not purchasing. Make them understand, on an emotional and logical level, the massive mistake they are making by waiting any longer to buy.
  • Opportunity – Paint a beautiful picture of the potential upside of your product. Demonstrate all of the amazing benefits that your customers reap. Make the prospect desire your product from a positive angle.
  • Implications – Talk to the prospect as a friend. Walk them through the consultative sales process step-by-step. Help them come to the buying decision themselves, and close without ever having to “sell.”

Each of these three approaches will vary in effectiveness for your different customer segments. Some will respond more positively to selling through opportunity than pain… and vice versa.

The key point here is that “value” means different things to different people. What motivates one customer to buy might not even matter in the slightest to another person. Now, go back to your pitch and examine the various stages. Notice how every step of the sales process should be tailored to the needs of the specific prospect that you are communicating with at that time. Create an adaptable value proposition that speaks to each and every one of your potential customers, and watch as your sales numbers skyrocket.

Posted in: Sales Tips

The Definitive Guide To Structuring Sales Compensation Plans

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Creating A Sales Compensation Plan

How To Create Your Commission Compensation Structure

Sales commission structures. They can make or break your business’ growth.

And yet, so many companies don’t give them the attention they deserve.

Which is exactly why we created this in-depth step-by-step guide to structuring compensation plans.

You will learn how to design, create, and implement a plan that continually evolves alongside your business.

Where To Start

There is a lot more to structuring a compensation plan than meets the eye.

First off, you want to integrate the goals of your organization into the compensation structure. This means taking a holistic approach to the plan, so that it incentivizes actions that promote business growth.

Let me explain: Normally when a company thinks about their sales program, they decide on a compensation plan that minimizes their cost per good sold OR maximizes their sales staff’s potential earnings. In fact, neither of these two approaches are optimal… what you really want is to align the performance (and compensation) of your sales team with increased company profit.

To accomplish this, start off by considering these questions:

  • What size is your company?
  • How new to market are you? (Also, how much market share do you have?)
  • How long does it take to close a sale?
  • What type of growth are you after? (i.e. Can you afford to go negative on the initial front-end sale to acquire customers and make more profit on back-end sales?)

These questions are important because they will help you decide on an optimal commission structure. Once again, an effective compensation plan will align with your business model and dramatically boost your growth — don’t relegate the commission structure to being just a “payment plan.”

The General Outline

Now, let’s go over the outline of your compensation plan.

There are four main areas you need to cover:

  • Strategy – Do you offer increasing commissions over time… or after a certain number of successful sales? You need to intentionally design the commission plan so it accelerates reps through the ranks.
  • Payout Structure – Will you pay reps a set rate per “close,” or base it on profit margin, or something else? This depends on your business’ product/service.
  • Performance Benchmarks – How will you monitor, manage, and report to your sales team? Are there certain quotas to meet… what about monthly or quarterly goals? Bonuses… random competitions? Are your sales reps competing against each other?
  • Problem Procedures – Issues can and will occur. What if two reps determine they have closed the same client? Save yourself unnecessary “headaches” and be prepared for this instance ahead of time. Get it down on paper to eliminate the need for debate or arguments.

Again, the answer to these questions depends on your specific organization. We could potentially give you “sample” answers, but that would be doing you a disservice. Take some time to ponder the right direction to take for your sales compensation plan.

What Your Commission Structure Needs To Accomplish

Apart from the actual creation of your compensation plan, there are a few other important items to discuss with your management team, about the implementation of your new program.

To make the most of your time and effort, make sure your plan:

  • Is well documented and freely available to all of your staff (and potential candidates).
  • Is extremely simple (i.e. no fine print, no “legal language,” and no confusing words) for employees to comprehend.
  • Succinctly explains and demonstrates what sales people need to accomplish to reach certain financial goals.
  • Is fair and enticing to both the employer and employee. (Finding the balance between profit maximization and compensation to reps is tricky. If you hire great salespeople but offer poor compensation… you end up with high turnover.)

Also, keep in mind that if you are a new company, selling a new product, in a new market… it will require above-average compensation to attract the best salespeople. This has a lot to do with risk. High-performing sales people understand the value they bring to an organization, and seriously consider the pros and cons to joining a new company. They will typically weigh potential earnings (i.e. your compensation plan) against potential risk (i.e. a poorly performing product or other issue outside their control).

How To Calculate The “Fine Details”

Finally, let’s consider the more specific elements of a commission structure.

How do you figure out the acceptable payment range?

Many companies will follow the “reverse” process for determining fixed commissions. For example, they will look at the cost per good sold and base that against potential profit and earnings. Unfortunately, it tends to get even more complicated from there: you can determine cost of goods sold by purely looking at manufacturing costs… or you can also include marketing, administrative, and other expenses in the equation.

How do you choose a type of commission?

Typically, service companies – and products where the salesperson has room to negotiate price with the client – will go for a percentage of profit. This is meant to incentivize the sales person to go for the highest possible “close.” Using a fixed commission per sale is also standard, but ideally you want to incentivize ongoing improvement (i.e. by offering a commission “ladder”). Similarly, you should consider utilizing (or at least testing) different bonuses, competitions, and other incentives to find the absolute most effective plan.

While working on your plan, keep these in mind:

  • Don’t be afraid to test out multiple structures over a certain time frame (whether 6 months, a year, or longer).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask candidates (or current salespeople) what would interest them.
  • You have to be able to track all metrics involved in your commission structure, like completed sales and where they originated. (Nothing can be left to chance, or opinion, because this will lead to disaster.)
  • It’s probably worth leaving some “room” in your budget for potential spur-of-the-moment sales contests. You never know when an opportune moment will occur, and having the ability to drum up some instant sales in case of emergencies is very valuable.

Hopefully this guide helped demonstrate the importance of your sales commission structure. It is absolutely worth the additional time and effort required to create a comprehensive plan… one that will help drive massive growth in your business for years to come.

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting, Sales Tips

The Keys To Managing An Effective Sales Team

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Sales team management

How to Manage a Sales Team Effectively

Record-breaking sales teams are not just the sum of every rep.

There is so much more involved in the process, including everything from your company philosophy to your commission structure. Today we’re going to explain the most important elements necessary to craft a winning sales team.

Hire Based On Potential For Success

You can provide sales training materials, highly-targeted leads, and every other valuable opportunity to your sales team… and yet, none of those matter if you don’t hire the right people. In fact, that’s why many high-growth Fortune 500 companies are hiring heavily based on the “intangible” side of the resume. If we accept the notion that sales is a skill — one that can be perfected by anyone given enough experience — then mindset and motivation are two of the most important values that a new candidate can bring to the table.

If they have the right “go-getter” drive to keep pounding the pavement relentlessly, until their goal is reached… then you know you’re talking to the real deal. Perseverance, self-driven motivation, and a desire to improve are three more qualities to notice. Remember, these reps have the ability to learn and grow their sales skills while on the job (through real-world experience). First and foremost, focus on hiring the right people.

A Confident (And Knowledgable) Leader

There are two different sides of sales team leadership: Accountability and support. The first side, accountability, is the more commonly-known part of leadership. This refers to helping your individual sales reps set goals (weekly, monthly, and quarterly are typical). It also includes holding the reps accountable to their expectations, and helping them figure out any problems if they are unable to meet goals.

There is also the support side of leadership, which relies on your ability to keep the sales team working at 100% efficiency. This doesn’t mean setting unrealistic expectations, or trying to overwork the team… it means being available to coach, to hand-hold, to help guide reps throughout the workweek.

Even though sales skills are honed through real-world experience, they still rely heavily on the emotional state of each rep. It’s the leader’s job to coach each sales person towards the most effective, healthy, and driven mindset possible. Hint: If you’re doing this correctly, you have a sales team that is consistently happy to come into work every day, while demonstrating increased sales numbers month after month.

The Right Philosophy

This is arguably the deciding factor in the success or failure of your sales team. It’s important to understand the desires of your sales team, and to make sure they align with the goals of the business. Top-performing sales teams are cultivated over time to have the most powerful mindset possible.

Here are a few examples:

  • They believe in the company, and truly want to help it grow.
  • They believe success will come in due time, given enough hard work.
  • They believe they are selling a winning product.
  • They believe they are helping the company strive for a market-leader position.

If your sales team is putting in 110% effort, because it’s their passion… you know you have created a successful and agreeable company philosophy. Try to think about the “intangible” side of sales management and leadership the next time you are focused on improving sales numbers. If you can capitalize on these crucial pieces of the management equation, everything else becomes significantly easier.

Posted in: Sales Tips

Where To Find Sales People That Will Exceed Your Expectations

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Where to find sales peopleAre you Wondering Where to Find Sales People?

Do you have a hard time bringing in the right sales candidates…

And holding onto those reps until they become successful?

If so, your problem might be that you are looking for sales people in all the wrong places. That’s why we put together this simple three-step guide. Go through this process step-by-step and see if there’s a sales-rep goldmine you’ve been neglecting to use.

Get Referrals From Trusted Colleagues

This one seems obvious, but so many businesses forget to take advantage of it. Acquaintances in your business network will likely know people that would be perfect for your sales position. Whether it’s one of their close friends that wants to get into sales, or a coworker that is looking to change career paths, there are lots of potential candidates looking to join your team.

All you have to do is ask!

Talk to friends, business acquaintances, and even your colleagues at work: Chances are that they know a few sales people that are looking for a job. There’s one huge benefit to finding sales people through your personal network… your chances of getting a high-quality candidate are sky-high because they’re coming from a trusted source.

Engage With People

Keep your eyes open… you might be interacting with the next superstar salesperson while going about your day. Most people overlook this huge opportunity. Think about it: On a weekly basis you most-likely meet hundreds of new people. So if the opportunity arises, make sure to capitalize on it.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to jump on social media and advertise your open positions. One especially good site for this is LinkedIn. Originally designed as a professional network, it has grown over the past few years into a significantly different scope.

Now, you have access to a much larger pool of business-savvy professionals, even if they aren’t in your personal network. So use it to your advantage.

Depending on the number of your connections (and a few other factors) you have the ability to interact with different groups of potential candidates at the push of a button. This definitely isn’t the most effective or efficient way to find candidates, though, so keep that in mind if you have serious time constraints.

Use A Tried And True Platform

Last, but surely not least, when you need high-quality candidates in record-breaking speeds try out our service. In as little as two days, you can start taking calls from potential candidates. Instead of dealing with the hiring headaches that come with traditional and slower methods… why not save time, and get access to qualified candidates without any work on your part?

Remember, there are tons of potential candidates out there, you just need a streamlined process to get their attention. As long as you know what to look for, and what qualities matter for your specific sales team, the rest is comparatively easy. Just line up some interviews, find the most qualified reps, and give them a chance.

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People

Sales People Needed: 7 Questions To Consider Before Hiring

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Sales Team OnboardingDo You Need Sales People?

Are you experiencing abnormally high turnover rates?

The problem may not be with your hiring process (or the candidates), but actually might be a management issue. This is one of the most important elements of growing an effective sales force, and yet, it is often mishandled by companies.

How much effort have you put into your on-boarding process? When a new rep joins the team, are they able to get up to speed within a few weeks… or do they normally seem confused and take months to start meeting their numbers? You can dramatically cut down on these issues, and improve your new salesperson on-boarding process by having clear and consise answers to these seven questions:

1) How do you measure the success of new reps?

Is there a specific sales quota? If it is based off the performance of past sales people, then tell that to your new reps. Explain to them the normal progression of success that a rep will go through. Ideally, you should have data to back up these claims. The idea here is that you can ease new reps into your sales team rather than just throwing them in “with the sharks.”

2) Who is your target demographic?

Is there a specific audience (or industry) that makes up your target customer? Your new rep needs to be briefed on the intricacies of this market. The most effective sales people will understand their target market perfectly, and be able to channel this knowledge into a stronger connection with prospects during the sales process. Everything from the type of entertainment your prospects consume to their standard political, philosophical, and cultural beliefs can be used to improve the effectiveness of a sales presentation.

3) What are the typical sales objections?

This is one of the most important points: Have case-studies and data ready to teach new sales people what to watch out for. They should know the top five sales objections by heart, along with a scripted response (or the correct way to engage this objection). This way, new sales reps won’t need to think on their feet during the first few presentations, they can just repeat a successful response. Essentially, you are cutting down on the “learning period” for new reps by providing them with knowledge from past sales meetings.

4) Are sales or marketing materials available?

What kind of materials are provided to new sales people? Do they need to create their own sales messages (whether that is letters, brochures, or business cards)? Don’t assume that new reps will instantly pickup the best practices for selling your product… you need to teach them.

5) What’s the market positioning of your company?

What kind of positioning and authority does your company have in the industry? Are you selling high-priced products to affluent members of society, or is your business targeted at the average consumer. Your new sales people will need this information to effectively target their sales pitch. Remember, the most effective sales approach will need to be tailored heavily to the audience being sold.

6) What stage of the buying process are leads at?

Are your sales people trying to sign prospects up for a free consultation, or are they meant to close new customers on the spot? These different types of “closes” will require different mindsets and approaches from your new reps. Again, the best way to guarantee success from your new sales people is to give them as much guidance as possible. For this example, your new sales people should be given reports on the typical length of the sales process and how the target audience usually responds.

7) Can new salespeople create their own system?

Do your new sales people have creative freedom to customize the sales approach to their own personality? If not, is your current sales system proven to work for the vast majority of reps? This is something to consider if you find that only a small segment of your new hires are able to meet or exceed their quota.

Use these seven questions as a starting point for evaluating your new salesperson on-boarding process. Remember to do everything in your power to help motivate and jumpstart the success of new reps. Your on-boarding process covering the first few weeks of a new salesperson will have one of the largest impacts on the overall strength of your sales team.

Posted in: Recruiting

The Top Qualities To Watch Out For When Looking For Salespeople

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Salespeople Qualities

Top Qualities To Watch Out For When Looking For Salespeople

For most businesses, hiring is a complex process.

You need to attract the right people, offer the right incentives, create an effective on-boarding process, and guide those new reps to success. But it all starts with the hiring process… and to be more specific, it all starts with knowing what qualities to look for in a salesperson. That’s why we put together a comprehensive list of the most important ones:

1) Empathy (Or Real-World Experience)

One of the most invaluable qualities for a potential salesperson is empathy. That means a deep understanding of the pain-points, and solution that they will be selling. Similarly, real-world experience with your product takes empathy to an even greater level. The reasoning behind this is that a (real) customer of your product would make the best salesperson. They know the problem first-hand, they know the related issues, and they know exactly what it takes to motivate a potential prospect to close the sale.

This is why many businesses will run mock sales calls (or meetings) with new reps to try and generate this first-hand experience. Another great way to instill the necessary product knowledge in your new reps is to give them your product. Let them see the product from the angle of a customer… it will absolutely make them more effective at closing.

2) Drive And Discipline

Another huge quality to watch out for when meeting and interviewing reps is ‘drive.’ The ideal candidate for almost any sales position is self-driven and motivated by success. You want salespeople that are willing (and happy) to do what it takes to beat their goals. Often, sales success will depend on motivation and effort, much more than inherent skills.

Think of it this way: If you have a choice between a salesperson that puts in 110% effort but lacks significant prior experience and a salesperson that has powerful sales ability but is lazy… the former will almost always achieve better results. Why? Because sales performance requires mental fortitude just as much as the ability to persuade.

3) Charisma: A Personality

Another top quality that is often misunderstood: charisma. When people normally think of charisma in sales, they picture the sly “used car salesperson” that was pushy and arrogant. That’s the opposite of charisma… in reality, you’re looking for a person that can make friends in almost any situation. You want salespeople that can command control of a room from the moment they walk in the door, and do it in an agreeable way.

Have you ever been involved in a sales situation where you felt like you and the rep were “on the same side?” That’s good charisma, and that’s a powerful skill for sales. This type of personality is key for top-performers, and is something you should definitely watch for during interviews. Remember, this has nothing to do with introversion or extraversion, either of these personality types can have serious charisma… it will just manifest in a slightly different way.

The next time you’re looking for salespeople, consider these qualities during the interview process and see what happens. You will likely be pleasantly surprised with the results… because these are indications of great salespeople that don’t appear on a resume or cover letter.

Posted in: Recruiting

How To Handle Sales Objections And Win Lifetime Customers

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sales objectionsHow to Handle Sales Objections

When it comes down to the wire…

The best salespeople are the ones who know how to close.

Keep in mind: We’re not talking about closing your average customers. (Or the “easy” wins.)

No, we’re talking about closing sales that seem impossible. Handling objections, reframing the discussion, and really driving home the pitch. These hard-fought sales encounters are what really moves the bottom line for a business. The vast majority of people can close a “guaranteed” sale. Those are the customers who are planning on making a purchase before you even finish the pitch.

On the other hand, if you want to maximize your sales numbers… you need to close a higher percentage of the “maybes.” How do you do that? By handling objections like a seasoned professional.

Finding The Real Issue

Here’s the area where most salespeople go wrong: assuming the objection is exactly what the customer says. Previously we covered consultative sales, which is a question-based sales process that allows the customer to define their pain points and lead themselves towards the sale. Similar to that “SPIN” sales process, when dealing with objections you need to really hone in on the problem.

Typically you’ll hear objections like these:

  • “I’m not interested.”
  • “The price is too high.”
  • “I’m not ready to buy yet.”
  • “I need to think about it.” (Or “I need to ask my partner.”)

The reason you can’t take these statements at face-value is because there is normally an ulterior motive behind them. When the objection is related to price, normally the real problem is that you haven’t done a sufficient job of demonstrating the value behind your product.

Think of it this way: If I offer you $15 worth of value and ask for a fee of $10, you’d be crazy not to take me up on the offer. When it comes down to your sales pitch, you need to demonstrate a significantly higher “value” than you are asking for in return. You can apply this same reasoning to any objections you come across.

Handling And Reframing The Discussion

When dealing with an objection, make sure you don’t come off as confrontational. Remember, you’re trying to help the potential customer deal with a pain point… they just require some additional clarification to reach a buying decision. Similarly, when making a counter-point, don’t say phrases that will come off as argumentative.

Instead of saying “It sounds like your only issue is the price, but I think you need to take into consideration benefit X, Y, and Z…” try using “It sounds like your only issue is the price, and I just want to reiterate the value of benefit X, Y, and Z.” Do you see the difference? In the first example, you are positioned as an undesirable salesperson, while the second approach sets you up as a trusted ally that has the prospect’s best interest in mind.

When dealing with objections, remember to internalize your prospect’s point of view, discover the real problem, and then give additional information to help guide them towards a buying decision. This is how you can guarantee a stress-free sales process that benefits everyone involved. 

Posted in: Sales Tips

Consultative Sales: How To Get Your Customers To Sell Themselves

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Consultative SalesHow To Get Your Customers To Sell Themselves

Would you believe that sales doesn’t need to be pushy?

In fact, would you believe that sales can be a mutually beneficial process for both you and the customer?

If not… prepare to be surprised.

Consultative sales: It’s not a new practice, but it is one of the most powerful sales systems to date.

Some people call it “solution selling” or you may have heard of “S.P.I.N. selling,” those are similar methods. The main thing you need to know is that this process involves going deep into the underlying problems and unmet needs of your prospect. Then you guide the prospect towards a potential solution to their problem — the solution being your product — through a process that resembles the ‘socratic method.’

The Step-By-Step Process

Step 1) The Situational Questions

Start off the sales process by asking questions regarding your prospect’s current situation — in regards to their pain points. For example, if you are selling a television service, then ask questions like:

  • What type of cable or network television services are you subscribed to?
  • How happy are you with your current television provider?

In this stage, you’re trying to build rapport. Use this time to get acquainted with the prospect, and get an initial idea of where they stand in regard to being a potential customer of yours.

 

Step 2) The Problem Questions

Now you want to ask the prospect probing questions, and see if they have an unmet need. You want to find out what problems they have, so you can direct your attention – later on in the sales process – to their specific pain points.

The idea is that you are acknowledging the prospect’s situation, rather than trying to impose your own desires, and therefore are seen as a helping hand. In other words, you want to build a relationship with this person and demonstrate that your intention is to help them find a solution to a problem… NOT to try and force your product on them.

 

Step 3) Implication Questions

This is the part of the process where the genius behind consultative sales starts to emerge. Using the answers your prospect gave you to the earlier questions — ask new questions based on the implication of not solving their problem.

For instance:

  • How much of an issue is losing TV access during a thunderstorm?
  • Does the poor customer service by your current provider cause you a serious headache?

You are trying to lead the prospect to critically think about their problem, and really internalize how big of an issue it has become. In a way, you are allowing the prospect to get emotional about their pain points, and this will make them much more likely to seek out a solution.

 

Step 4) Need-Payoff Questions

At this point we’re going for the close — but not the typical close you see in traditional “hard selling.” You have brought the prospect almost all way through the process, now you need to lead them towards the the final conclusion. Ideally at this point in the process, the prospect has realized that your product will solve their pain points and is worth their immediate effort.

  • If you could solve all of these problems, what impact would that have on your daily life?
  • Would it be worth your time and effort to make the switch today?

If you’ve asked the right questions, and followed the process as described, your prospect will immediately jump on your offer. In other words: they will sell themselves. That’s the beauty of consultative sales, you are actually helping people solve their problems rather than trying to pressure them into an unnecessary product. Of course, the one caveat to this process is that your product needs to legitimately solve your prospects’ problems. But that’s a different discussion entirely, right? 

Posted in: Sales Tips

Learn How To Hire Canvassers That Will Get The Job Done Right

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hire canvassersHow to Hire Canvassers

Do you know how to sift and sort through candidates to find the right people for the job?

Hiring canvassers is hard because it requires a very specific skill set. It’s not practical to just hope you will find the perfect candidate… you need a process for finding and closing the reps that will help grow your business.

Today we’re going to explore the art of hiring and on boarding canvassers, and you’ll quickly realize that a significant portion of the process requires a personal touch. Why? Because you can’t just hire great salespeople on autopilot — you need to be there in the beginning to take them by the hand and teach them a professional and effective canvassing approach.

Focus On The Right Qualities

Let’s face it: You need qualified, motivated, “go-getter” reps that have a very solid understanding of sales. But there’s one element that most business owners don’t realize: not all salespeople are born… most are created. Before you can train them though, you first need to hire the right canvassers.

Here are four characteristics to look for:

  • Boldness – Your new canvassers will need to be confident. “Faking it” won’t make it in this industry. Look for people that can handle knocking on doors and being personable (and professional) in situations that will often be unsettling.
  • Rejection Is The Norm – Obviously you and your new sales person have the same results in mind: boatloads of sales, leads, or whatever conversion they are aiming for… but you need to make it abundantly clear that success comes alongside significant rejection. You need people that will keep marching through every “No” until they finally get a “Yes.”
  • Think For Themselves – Another often unnoticed quality of successful canvassers is the ability to think critically. Sales may be a numbers game to the manager or owner… but for a salesperson, the act of addressing a person and soliciting a response is a very fluid act. It’s constantly changing and requires a person that has serious quick-thinking abilities.
  • Not Afraid To Ask For The Sale – Opening the conversation and starting the canvassing process is great, but that’s not what drives sales. Your new canvassers need to have the drive to finalize the process — they need to be able to “ask for the sale” regardless of what that entails. If they’re afraid of persuasion, they might not be the right candidate.

Now Craft Your New Reps Into Canvassing Machines

So you’ve got a group of ready-to-roll canvassers… what now? Leadership.

This is arguably the most important step in the process (and where most businesses get it wrong). Now you need to take these reps and mold them into canvassing machines.

Spend a day (or two) out in the field with your new reps and show them how it’s done. This is the best possible training you could give your new canvassers — and remember, this is a win-win. There’s nothing more important that setting your reps up for success — because you both reap the rewards of an unstoppable canvassing force.

Posted in: Door To Door Salespeople

How To Deal With Serious Employee HR Issues

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Dealing With HR Problems

How To Deal With Serious Employee Issues

Workplace problems.

They happen in every organization. It’s a normal part of hiring and managing a large number of employees. Sometimes issues will emerge that you just could not have predicted. When this happens, it’s important to have a smart approach for resolving these situations.

Today we’re going to explain how to deal with these problems — what you need to know, how to communicate with the employees involved, and how to find a suitable resolution.

Discover The Real Problem

The first step to resolving an HR issue is discovering what really happened.

Here’s the big secret behind workplace issues: They normally go much deeper than the surface-level problem. You really need to be cognizant of this, because if you aren’t aware of the right problem, you can’t fix it.

Don’t just talk to the employees directly involved. Go around and ask their coworkers what’s really going on. Often, you’ll be surprised by the answers. For example, there’s a good chance that this workplace problem is actually caused by something happening in the employee’s personal life.

Focus On A Resolution, Not Accusations

Remember that your goal is to resolve the issue — not to instigate further problems. There’s no point in making accusatory statements that will just add ‘fuel to the fire.’ Keep an open mind when talking with the employees and make sure this is very apparent. You want the employees to be able to trust and confide in you, otherwise a ‘win-win’ resolution will be nearly impossible.

Be Proactive

There’s a few key strategies you can use to minimize workplace drama:

Do nothing at all – This HR tactic probably sounds like bad advice, but don’t brush it off just yet. If you get a notification of a problem, it’s best to sit back and wait for the problem to resolve itself. Give it a few days. Many smaller issues will resolve themselves (sometimes employees can be quick to report a minor issue) and will lead to a stronger bond within the workplace. If the problem still persists after this point, now it’s your turn to step in.

Checks and balances – Make sure your company culture is poised for success. Ask yourself:

  • Is there an open line of communication between HR and employees for these sort of issues?
  • Does your company culture foster healthy (or detrimental) competition between employees? If done improperly, this can lead to animosity among coworkers..
  • Do you have a formal process for employee complaints? Is there an anonymous option?
  • Does your workplace cater to all of your employees’ needs, or only a small segment?

These are all important questions to consider before a problem arises.

Don’t forget the “H” in HR – You’re dealing with humans, which means you need to empathize and understand each individual point of view before coming to a definite conclusion. Ideally, you want to figure out a win-win solution to every employee problem. If this is impossible, then try to be unbiased when deciding on a course of action.

At the end of the day, realize that no one has the intention of causing problems for their employer or coworker…. sometimes it just happens. So focus on coming to a suitable resolution that will help foster a close-knit company culture.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Manage A Sales Team With These 4 Management Tips

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Sales Team ManagementHow To Manage a Sales Team

Whether you like it or not… Your sales team needs a leader.

And not just any leader, they probably need YOU.

They need someone to guide them throughout every stage of the job.

From getting acquainted with the product on day one, to closing their 100th sale. Effective management of a sales force is arguably the most important element of running a business. Even if every person you hire is a “born winner,” ready to attack sales with every ounce of energy in their body, they still need supervision to operate at an optimal level.

Here are four key aspects of successful sales management:

1. More Leading, Less Managing

It’s easy to manage people… it’s harder to lead them. Not surprisingly, the latter achieves results much greater than the former. Even though it seems like a time sink, putting in the effort to carefully lead your sales team is worth it. It’s your job to figure out exactly what your salespeople need, and to deliver that in an appropriate manner. That could be time management strategies, some one-on-one coaching, even encouraging them after failures.

Think of your sales team as professional athletes… they still need a head coach (that’s you) to maximize their success.

2. Know The Key Performance Indicators

Know the key performance indicators of your sales staff. You should have exact data that demonstrates what type of effort equals what type of result. And that’s where goal-setting comes into play. Since you know what amount of calls, meetings, or consultations typically converts into a sale… you can now break down your sales into a science. It’s a good idea to have weekly meetings where you discuss goals, priorities, and desired outcomes with each individual salesperson. 

3. Set Your Team Up For Success (Not Failure!)

Your salespeople are hungry for success, you just need to feed them the right ingredients. They need solid leads and a proven sales system. On top of that, they need a corporate environment that is conducive to success. Allow reps to customize the sales script to their own personality and style. Let them test different variations and run with whichever works best.

Similarly, be positive about sales, but be blunt about failures. This isn’t to say you should reprimand reps for a failed attempt, but rather: don’t ignore poor performance. If you notice a rep struggling, jump in and lead them (by the hand, if necessary) towards better performance.

4. Know How To Motivate The “Don Drapers”

Congrats — you know how to hire the right people for the job… and you caught yourself a regular “Don Draper.” Now you need to motivate these high-performing reps to pull in massive numbers. Here’s how you do that: Celebrate the wins. Congratulate your top performing salespeople, and make sure they understand how much they are appreciated. On top of that, a significant chunk of a top dog salesperson’s motivation is typically money… so offer encouraging sales incentives for different tiers of success. You can even run monthly competitions for added effect. Sales is a competitive sport at the most basic level.

Remember that your entire sales force needs a central leader: someone to guide the team towards success. Use these strategies to maximize your sales team’s performance and improve the overall company culture, because they go hand in hand.

Posted in: Sales Tips

Looking For Top Talent? Here's How To Find A Superstar Salesperson

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find a superstar sales personFind a Superstar Salesperson

Getting in contact with potential sales reps is only half the battle…

If you want to hire top performers, you have to make it worth their while.

In a way, once you’ve identified the best prospects, you then need to ‘sell’ them on the job opportunity. Here’s the deal: There is an abundance of high-paying opportunities for sales people that know how to get results.

It can get extremely competitive on the hiring side of sales, so here’s how to entice top performers to choose your business:

Know What You’re Looking For

First off, make sure you know exactly the type of candidate you want to hire. Take the time to develop a “persona” for your ideal sales rep, based off your current staff. Focus on the key performance indicators of a successful sales person within your business.

That might include:

  • Industry experience
  • Sales mindset and approach
  • Formal education

Do you need someone that excels at cold-calling… door-to-door… or something completely different? It will vary from business to business, so make sure you know the right person for your position.

What Are The Benefits?

Look at the situation from the sales person’s perspective. Think: “What’s in it for them?”

1) How will you pay new reps?

There are pros and cons to every payment option. Commission-only sales positions tend to attract a wide spectrum of candidates. For the top-performers, they see pure commission as a way to earn as much money as possible due to their experience. And with a proven track-record for getting results, that can be very enticing.

On the other hand, be aware that commission-only positions can sometimes scare off sales people. On occasion, it can be an indication of a poor business model — if there is no base-salary — because all of the initial risk is being put on the rep. Consider offering a base-salary, this additional job security may help you close a sales person that would otherwise be reluctant to take your offer.

2) What are the “intangible” benefits?

Are there any other benefits to your sales position that aren’t obvious? This could be anything like

  • Being able to telecommute
  • The location of your business
  • Flexible hours
  • Extensive new-rep training program

These unique benefits can be very compelling to sales people that have had to deal with less-than-perfect job conditions in the past. Focus on relaying these important points to potential new reps as soon as possible, normally during the first interview.

3) What’s the new sales person on-boarding process?

Similar to the above two points, think about what happens immediately after a new sales person joins the team. Do you have an effective training program for quickly getting new reps acquainted with your product? Is there a heavy-reliance on their own intuition and skills, or do you have proven scripts (and other resources) to give sales reps a head-start? These are extremely important questions to consider, because they will be running through the mind of your interviewee.

The Close

Think about these ideas before launching your next hiring campaign. They just might lead you to a more effective, productive, and successful sales team.

At the end of the day, it’s in your best interest to do everything in your power to attract superstar sales people.

Posted in: Recruiting

How To Recruit The Right Door To Door Sales People

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Recruit Door to Door Sales People

Recruit Door To Door Sales People

Do you know how to recruit the right sales people?

Having an effective recruitment system is vital for businesses in the process of hiring new reps.

It’s the difference between a massive ROI for your business, and yet another turnover. Why? Because what seems like a solid candidate will not always turn out that way.

You need a repeatable process for identifying the right people: the high-achievers, the “hustlers,” but most importantly reps that will thrive in your specific sales environment. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as choosing candidates with the best-looking resume. That’s why we created a comprehensive guide to recruiting the best candidates for *your* business.

Hire A Person, Not A Resume

Want to quickly differentiate candidates during an interview? Forget the normal questions. You can bet that every person coming into an interview has prepared answers. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but these answers will only highlight their previous accomplishments. You want the truth: The good. The bad. And the ugly. (Because that’s the only way to get an accurate picture of their abilities.)

This isn’t to downplay the significance of experience and education… they matter, to an extent. But once you’ve initially screened candidates for those factors, move onto the tougher questions.

Ask them:

  • What was their first “sales” experience? (Not necessarily in a corporate environment.)
  • What do you do when you lose a sale?
  • What are they motivated by?

The point here is to get a deeper understanding of what drives them. Think about it: Would you rather hire a rep whose first experience with sales was out of necessity… or one who had a natural inclination towards ‘persuasion,’ and other elements of sales since childhood. For the second question, you want a candidate that sees a lost sale as an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to further their skills.

Look For The Perfect Match

Another key piece of this initial recruitment process is finding the right “match.” Ask yourself: Do the desires of this sales candidate match up with the structure and requirements of your job? There’s a significant difference between various door to door sales positions. Similarly, the right candidate will slightly vary for every market.

Here’s one way to discover the optimal candidate: Try to come up with an ideal salesman ‘persona.’ Look at your current sales staff. Which reps are pulling in the highest numbers? The lowest? What traits differentiate the two groups? (Don’t be afraid to get specific here.) The answer to these questions might be surprising… and hopefully it will help you realize what type of sales people will succeed the most within your company.

Think you found a winner?

Put them to the test. Right on the spot, give them an opportunity to demonstrate their sales ability. This could be in the form of a simulated product pitch (doesn’t need to be your own product, just one that the rep is familiar with).

Focus on how they deliver their pitch more than what they are saying. Do they project confidence? Are they calm and focused during this on-the-spot, possibly stressful situation? Look for the tell-tale signs of your ideal sales person. If a candidate makes it through this process — and has all the other requirements — you might’ve just found the right person for the job.

Posted in: Door To Door Salespeople, How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Why You Should Consider Paying Your Sales Reps a Base Salary

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Consider Paying Sales Reps a Base Salary

It’s an age old conundrum.  If you pay a sales rep a salary, they’re less likely to be motivated.  Offer them 100% commission only and very few are interested.

011319318-interview-business-people-wait

FORTUNE 500 ARE DOING IT

Over the years we’ve noticed that all of the very large companies we work with pay a nominal base salary of between $300 and $600 per week. Most of these companies are in the door to door or home improvement space, and it seems a little strange that they would  offer a base.  In addition to benefiting from name recognition (eg., Scotts Lawn or Home Depot), they get a huge boost by offering a small base salary and a variety of other benefits such as health care or a 401k plan.

CANDIDATES ARE LAZY, JUST LIKE YOU

While the dream is to hire 100% commission-only salespeople, the reality is that it’s several magnitudes more difficult to do so without paying a base or offering any kind of benefits.   Have you ever posted your resume online? If not, you should try it.  Candidates are bombarded with 10-20 emails a day about various jobs.  Many are MLMs or scams of some kind, so candidates are understandably wary of all offers.  Candidates approach their job search the way you might approach looking for information online, such as researching a new vendor.   There’s so much information to go through, we just don’t have the time anymore.  Everything is quickly scanned so that we may rule it out.  Job seekers are doing the same thing with the offers they get by email.  They’re looking for specific things:

  • Is this a scam or rip off?
  • What company is this?
  • Does this opportunity match what I’m looking for?
  • How much does it pay?
  • Is it commission-only?
  • How does the website look?

REACH INTO YOUR POCKET

Can you afford $400-500 per week for an initial period of two or three weeks while you determine if the sales rep is going to work out?  The sales rep gets a little security and the ability to pay for a few basic necessities, and you benefit from a much larger candidate pool.  At $500 per week, it’s unlikely that your fledgling sales rep will rest on their laurels.

BOTTOM LINE

These large companies pay small base salaries because it makes sense.  They’ve got a lot of seats to fill and they’ve figured out the most efficient way to reach that goal.   While paying a base certainly isn’t a requirement, you’ll notice a huge difference in the numbers and quality of salespeople coming through your door. Your company will also receive fewer complaints and will be less likely to be viewed as a scam or rip off.

Posted in: Commission Only Sales Reps, Recruiting

Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Campaign

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Quick Guide: Choosing the Right Keywords for your Campaign

If you’re reading this post you’re probably concerned that we’ll pick the wrong search terms for your campaign, however there’s not much chance of that happening.  Over the last ten years we’ve performed over 30,000 searches for a wide variety of companies.

The main reason we ask you to provide keyword terms it to make sure we’re on the same page – to confirm what we already know, and to include additional words you’ve requested.  We’re always on the lookout for a new keyword, so please keep them coming!

BOOLEAN SEARCH DEFINED

Boolean (Pronounced BOO-LEE-UN) Logic was created by a mathematician back in the 19th century.  A Boolean search is a string of words, phrases and Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) that allow us to perform a complex search on resume.

Here is a simple example and result in the image below:   +Sales +(Canvass* OR “Door to door” OR “Field sales” OR Knock* OR “Direct Sales”)  AND (Directv OR Comcast OR Kirby) NOT (“Retail Sales” OR tax OR analyst OR administrative)

This search will force the word “Sales” along with one word from the second grouping (“Door to Door”) as well as one word from the third grouping (“Kirby”)  and will not display resumes that have any words in the last grouping.

resumesearch

WHAT MAKES A GOOD KEYWORD?

The best keywords are generally words or phrases that are common.  Single words are better than phrases because they’re going to be much more common.   Traits are not effective keywords (eg., Cheerful, Motivated, Leader, “On Time”).  Your competitors names can work well, as long as they’re very large companies (eg., Terminix, Kirby, Cutco, Primerica, Yellow Pages).

THINK IT THROUGH

Ask yourself the following questions to spark ideas:

  • Who are my very large competitors in the area?
  • What other types of people would work for this position?  (if you’re selling local marketing services to small businesses, you might use “Merchant Services” as a keyword)
  • What kinds of people do I want to exclude?  What types of people would never succeed in my opportunity? (these are your negative keywords)
  • What are the synonyms of my main keywords?  (if you’re looking for home improvement sales reps, you might search for “in home”, “construction sales”, HVAC or XACTIMATE)

INDUSTRY SPECIFIC EXAMPLES

Here are some keywords that we’re already using for the most popular types of sales reps and industries:

Outside Sales:  Hunter, Closer, Yellow Pages, B2B, Cold Call, Lead Generation, Insurance Sales, Merchant Services, Prospecting, Sales Leader, District Manager

Door To Door Sales:  Field Sales, Direct Sales, Storm Damage, Solar, Canvassing, Terminix, Knocking, Census, ADT, Scotts, Pest Control, Residential Sales

Home Improvement Sales: HVAC, XACTIMATE, Solar, Home Depot, Lowes, Remodeling, Restoration, Wind/Hail Damage, Roofing, Outside Sales, Hunter, Closer, Lead Generation

Inside Sales: Inbound, Outbound, Telesales, Telemarketing, Sales Associate, Sales Executive, Debt Collection, Appointment Setting, Phone Sales, Call Center, Sales Representative

Lawn/Pest Control:  Trugreen, Pest, Bartender, Yellow Pages, Door to Door, Canvassing, Kirby, Cutco

Digital Marketing/Advertising:  Digital, SMM, Social Media Marketing, Internet Advertising, Advertising Sales, New Media, Digital Media, Groupon, Living Social

Merchant Services Sales: Merchant Services, Local Businesses, ISA, ISO, Payment Processing, Outside Sales, Hunter, Closer, Cold Call, Lead Generation, Yellow Pages, Heartland Payment Systems

SEO Sales:  SEM, SEO, Adwords, Internet Advertising, Local Business, Small Business, B2B, PPC, “Pay Per Click”, Hunter, Closer, Yellow Pages, Outside Sales

Print Advertising:  Printing, Direct Mail, Newspaper, Magazine, Branding, Promotional, Directories, Print Media, Television, Radio, Broadcasting

Finance/Wealth/Insurance:  Series 6, Series 7, Wealth, CFP, Financial Planner, CLU, Trader, Wealth Management, Insurance Sales, Life License, Banking, Investments, Pharmaceutical, Broker, Securities, Collegiate, Athlete, Football

HAPPY HUNTING

If you have any questions, please ask your account manager.  Lastly, make sure you don’t forget the negative keywords and good luck with your campaign!

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Technology, Time to Hire

How To Handle Incoming Candidate Calls

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In this blog post, I’m going to give you some general tips on exactly what you might say to door to door sales reps, in-home home improvement sales reps, or really any other type of high turnover commission-based salesperson that may call you as a result of our efforts.

If you’re looking to find sales reps for a straight 100% commission-only position, if you’re new to hiring sales people on straight commission, or if this isn’t something you do on a regular basis, you could probably benefit from reading this document.

you will hire a sales superstar today

Please understand that using our service does not guarantee that you’ll hire someone, especially if you’re hiring for door to door sales or insurance sales.  Our most experienced clients who use us on a weekly basis to hire commission-only sales people will say that they often strike out about once a month.  Your success will depend on a number of things, including the quality of your opportunity, your geographic location and your recruiting experience level. Like any type of sales, hiring sales people on commission is a numbers game!

KNOW YOUR OBJECTIVE

It important to realize that in this scenario the sales candidate is the prospect and the interview is the sale.  The interview is important because you’ll have a much easier time bringing that candidate on board if you are face to face with them, at your office.  To that end, you should always be closing for the interview. Each call should last about two minutes and no longer than three.

door to door sales hiring

Be nice and polite, but also firm and confident.  Never lose your cool when talking to a potential candidate, as they could one day become your customer.  Keep in mind that in addition to recruiting for you we are advertising your business to hundreds of people.

CALL EXAMPLES

Here are some specific response examples during a call:

Candidate: “Hi, I was calling about the position.”

Response A: “Hi, is this John Smith? (You used the Caller ID to look up the identify of the caller.)  Yes, I contacted you regarding some of the outside sales opportunities we have here in the Memphis area.  If that’s of interest to you, I’d like you to come in and talk about the position and see if it’s a good fit for us both.  Are you available tomorrow afternoon?”

Response B: “Yes! If you’re interested in a sales position we could bring you in some time later this week.  We’ll tell you more about the position and learn a little bit more about you and see if it’s a good fit for both of us.  How does either tomorrow morning or Thursday afternoon look to you?

Response C: “Yes.  I was reaching out to you regarding a sales position. I came across your resume online and wanted to see if you’d be interested in an outside sales position.  I’m looking for someone who has the passion and motivation to learn our business and hit the ground running.  How does your schedule look like later this week?

USE AN ASSISTANT

One effective approach is to use an assistant to handle the candidate calls for you.  The assistant doesn’t know the details of the opportunity and their only task is to schedule the interview with the prospect.

Candidate: “Hi, I’m calling for John Smith please.”

Response A: “Hello, this is his assistant, Jane. Did you schedule to meet up with him yet? No? Well I can schedule you in for an interview right now if you like?”

Response B: “He’s actually occupied with another candidate right now, and he’s asked me to help you if you’re calling about the sales position.  We have a number of sales opportunities now in the Memphis area.  I can schedule a meeting with John for tomorrow if you like? ”

Response C: “John is away at the moment, but I can help you.”  Candidate: “What does the job pay?”   Assistant: “I don’t have access to those numbers, but John will give you the full run down when you speak with him.  Are you available tomorrow to meet with John?”

In response A, you’re simply assuming the sale and just asking for the interview.  The candidate may think they’ve really lucked out by reaching John’s assistant!

MORE RESPONSE EXAMPLES

Candidate: “I just got a call from this number.” or “Did you call me?”

Response: “Yes, I was trying to reach you about an outside sales opportunity here in Memphis and I’m conducting interviews this week to have people come in and learn more about the position.  Are you available this Wednesday to come in?

Response B: “We were reaching out to you regarding some career opportunities here in the Memphis area. Is that something you’d be interested in?

___________________________________________________________________________________

Candidate: “I sent you my resume, can I learn a bit more about the position before we meet?”

Response A (if you have their resume):  “Mark, I see that you have experience in mortgage banking and insurance – so, some great sales experience here.  We are looking for someone with the motivation to learn our process from the ground up, with the opportunity to make six figures offering our services to homeowners in the Memphis area.  Is that something you’d be interested in?”

Response B (no current sales experience): “Mark, this is an outside sales position, however we offer paid training for the right individual.  Are you open to a career change?”

Response C (no resume): “Mark, we offer a fantastic opportunity for the right person.  Our average reps make $35-60K a year, but we have a number of people making 6 figures.  We offer benefits after 90 days and paid training.  Does Friday work for you?”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Candidate: “What exactly does the job entail?”

Response: “You’ll be meeting with homeowners to discuss our services and helping them achieve their goals.  What’s your schedule like later this week?”

Response: “Mark, this is an outside sales opportunity, offering our services to homeowners.  It would be easier to go over everything once you’re here.  Can you come in tomorrow afternoon?”

Response C: “Mark, we have a number of opportunities available and it would be easier to discuss if you came in.  How does late tomorrow afternoon work for you?”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Candidate: “I’m currently working as a manager at Lowes and I’m not sure this is the right opportunity for me.”

Response: “Have you considered a career change? I’m sure you have to put in a lot of hours in that position.  This job may be difficult at first but once you get rolling you may find there is a lot more flexibility and the pay is better.  Can you swing by tomorrow morning to discuss it in more detail?”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Candidate: “Is this a Door to Door sales position?”

Response: “Essentially yes. You’ll be meeting with homeowners to discuss our services.  We’ve got a great paid training program and will support you the entire way.  Can you come in Thursday to discuss it in more detail?”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Candidate: “What is the pay?”

Response A: “We usually get in to that in detail during the interview, do you have time later this week?”

Response B: “Pay is 100% commission, however we offer a paid training program during your first month of $400 per week. After that you’ll make a straight 20% on our services.  Average reps make between $700-1200 per week.  If you’re good you can make 6 figures at this opportunity.”

FINAL NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Offer more than one position during the call, such as the possibility for management. It helps if the candidate thinks there may be multiple opportunities to discuss.
  • During the call, provide no more information than is necessary to complete your objective (set the appointment!)
  • Use basic sales techniques such as the Alternative Close and Assume the Sale
  • Always close for the interview
  • If you can pay your reps a small weekly base pay ($300-$500), you will have a lot more success.  We will be writing an article about compensation very soon.

LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL

How To Hire Commission Only Sales People

How To Hire People  in a Group Environment

Ten Points to Consider in Your Recruiting Approach

 

Posted in: Commission Only Sales Reps, Door To Door Salespeople, How To Hire Sales People, Must Read, Recruiting

Guest Post – A Recruiting Modification

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I’ve always been fascinated by intelligence and generally enjoy the company of people far smarter than me, which is probably a healthy trait for someone in business.  If we can assemble diverse, effective and talented people into a team, we’ll achieve far more than if we try to run a top-down enterprise where the boss is the only person with any brains; however, intelligence, in the form of raw brain-power, is by no means a clear validator and indicator of success.  Many of the brightest people in the world have ended up in menial jobs, or even prison, because they could not adapt, communicate, or relate to ordinary people.  Others have thrived, though their success may not be measured in conventional materialistic metrics.

Nevertheless, when our business is to find sales reps or contract with employees, we have a bias in favor of intelligence, coupled with an assessment of the individual’s specialized abilities for the work, and the potential employee / contractor’s personal relationship skills. We use a variety of working tests and evaluation tools to get around the “send a resume, attend an interview” hiring model.

More recently, I’ve tested another enhancement to this concept. We are seeking a new publisher to replace our retiring publisher in North Carolina. We have used a variety of services, including Time to Hire, to find a commission sales person. I ended up with about 30 inquiries, and a shorter list of 12 short-list finalists. Instead of spending hours interviewing and testing them, I devised a challenging assignment: I described the general scope of the position, provided some background data, and gave the candidates access to any specific information they needed. I then offered them $100 to complete a work plan on how they would handle the job, while outlining their expectations and requirements to proceed. I explained that the compensation would, in part, cover the extra effort they would need to apply to be successful at this initiative.

Three candidates responded with thoughtful answers that were worthy of the compensation. One explained how he would forgo significant pension opportunities by accepting the offer now, but said he would like to remain in consideration if an opening occurs next year. We have contracted the other two: one will primarily serve the North Carolina market, and the other will focus on South Carolina.

I can’t say with absolute confidence that this recruiting modification will be helpful, but you may see similarities to the compensation models offered for design / build proposals, where significant creativity and effort is required by the short-list finalists. It is unfair to ask “maybe” sales candidates to put exceptional effort into the hiring process without some level of compensation, and I think it is fair that some of the ideas from the candidate(s) who don’t get the job can be applied in the business, as long as they are paid for their efforts.

It is also worthy to note that several candidates who looked good on initial screening declined to complete the evaluation. This may have been a reasonable option on the candidate’s part if we wanted just a “sales rep” but, in our organization, regional publishers have to work at a much higher level, behaving and thinking more like independent business owners.

Maybe we can benefit from upending some of our traditional practices, and pay a little up front for careful thought and sincere effort. We may not attract perfection, but I sense our results will be much better than the raw-herd hiring mentality. A similar model may be worth considering the next time you are recruiting sales reps.

This was a guest post by Mark Buckshon, President of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. You can read his daily blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.com.  He can be reached by phone at (888) 432-3555 ext 224 or by email at buckshon@cnrgp.com.

Posted in: Recruiting

Questions to Ask When Hiring Sales People

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Important Questions to Ask When Hiring Sales People

interview-salesman

A great sales team is the backbone of any successful company. With the right team on your side, you will see an instant improvement in your company’s performance. Hiring the wrong salesperson can have profoundly negative consequences. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what questions to ask to make sure you’re not stuck with a salesperson that looked great on paper but in actuality couldn’t sell a dollar for fifty cents. Asking the right questions during the interview process can help ensure that you hire a salesperson that will improve your company’s performance, rather than hinder it.

 Ask For Specific Details about Their Performance in the Workplace

It is important not to focus on “what” the sales candidate did in the past, but rather “how” they did it. How were they able to overcome the challenges they faced? How did they do their job? Be as specific as possible with your questions. If you can understand their working process, you can better determine whether or not they will be a good match for your company.

In addition, you’ll also want to get an idea of how the candidate performed when compared to their peers. Find out how large their previous sales team was. If they performed well among a large team of 100 or more individuals, this is a good indicator that they are highly skilled and can likely bring something valuable to the table.

Find Sales Reps who can Handle Rejection

During the interview process, it is important to not only find out about the candidate’s successes, but their failures as well. No matter how great a salesperson is, they will face rejection from time to time. The way in which they handle rejection speaks volumes of their character and their willingness to learn from their mistakes. Ask them to describe a time when they were sure they were going to close a deal, but suddenly lost the sale. Pay attention to the way in which they answer the question. If they fail to take personal accountability, they may have great difficulty learning from their mistakes and growing.

Ask the Candidate about Their Success Rate

What is their ratio of calls to closes? This is a good indication of the type of performance you can expect should you hire them for your team. It is also important to find out how many calls they typically make in one day.

Find Out What Their Sales System Is

Ask the candidate for details about their sales system. How does the process start? How do they handle customers that are irate or difficult? Ask them to be as specific as possible. This will give you an idea of whether or not their sales method will work well with your customer base.

When formulating your interview questions, make sure that you tailor them to your company’s needs. Just because a particular candidate performed well with their previous company, it does not mean that they will be a good fit for your company. A great salesperson is never easy to find, so take the time to compile a list of questions that will help you choose the ideal candidate for your team.

Guest Post by:

Chris Brewer, Online Marketing Giant

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Your Website Is the New Storefront

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Your Website is the new Storefront

The year is 1993.  Meet John.  John owns a small Merchant Services company near Hartford Connecticut. Since the Time To Hire service hasn’t been invented yet, John uses the local newspaper to look for commission-based sales people.

John gets quite a few calls and is able to set up quite a few meetings; however, he can’t seem to find anyone who wants to come back for a second meeting.  Concerned, John pores over every aspect of his process.  John is offering a small draw against commission of $500 per week, medical benefits, a retirement plan and even paid training – much, much more than most companies.  What could be the issue?

John’s assistant gingerly offers an explanation. “The office could use a touch of paint, and possibly a new sign.”  John hadn’t considered the condition of the office up until this point.  He’s done everything himself in terms of the decor.  The office is in a professional building, however John used the local “Quick Sign” company, and it really looks like he got what he paid for.  Instead of a steel, professionally designed sign, he chose a vinyl one which is now covered by a thick coat of mildew.  The office conference room where John meets new recruits is devoid of any character.  The conference table was purchased second hand and the chairs are cheap and falling apart.  There’s no art on the walls or potted plants.  Just an old dry erase board and a lectern.

uglystoresignNo wonder candidates failed to set up a second meeting.  First impressions are incredibly important.

In today’s world, your website is the new store front.  It’s the first thing that candidates come across when they learn about your company.  It’s important to understand that sales reps are constantly filtering information in the same way you do. After posting their resumes, job seekers can see ten or more emails every day, many of which are some kind of scam or multi-level marketing.  An easy way for candidates to spot a scam is to check out the quality of the employers website.  In addition to filtering out scams, sales professionals don’t want to waste their time with unprofessional companies.  A quick glance at a website is always the first step in this process.

Does your virtual store front need a face?  Have you asked your friends and business associates what they really think of your site?  Have you ever had a professional give you their opinion of the site?  It might be good idea to get some feedback on your site before embarking upon any marketing program, including a recruiting campaign with Time To Hire.

When you’ve finally come to the realization that your website stinks, what do you do now?

What would you pay for a new physical sign at your business? Probably several thousand dollars.  The answer is going to be slightly different depending on your budget.  I recommend spending as much as you can afford and then some.

If you’re on a budget, here are some services that can help:

99designs.com:  You set the price, and designers around the world offer basic designs for logo or web design work.  You chose the winner, who then goes on to finish your project.  Prices for logos range from $50-1000 and $500-$3500+ for websites.

bmobilized.com:  Will (mostly) automatically convert your existing site into a mobile site for only $9 per month.  Bmobilized is only as good as your current site, however.

The more money you can throw at the project, the better your results will typically be.  A better looking, well thought out website will yield many more conversions (e.g., leads, interested candidates).   High end design doesn’t come cheap. A professionally designed website that may include branding, logo, animation and web forms can cost you from $5,000 to $20,000 or more.

What is your current website costing you in lost sales or quality hires?

Posted in: How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

How To Measure Distances in Google Maps

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Measuring Distance in Google Maps

When you utilize our service we ask you to choose a recruiting area.  This usually consists of a single zip code and radius, a single state or the entire United States. As always, we can search additional areas or zip codes in the same campaign at additional cost.  If you choose a zip code or city, we’ll need to know how far out you’d like to go in all directions (the radius).   You can choose a 20, 30, 40, 50, 75 or 100 mile radius for your search. Keep in mind that this is “As The Crow Flies”, and not based on road miles.

Some clients want to make sure candidates are within an appropriate range of their business.  A standard radius for most Outside Sales Commission Based opportunities is usually 40-50 miles.  Inside or Telesales People usually commute into an office each day, so your recruiting radius will usually be 20 or 30 miles.  Other clients want to avoid an adjacent state due to territorial reasons.

Google Maps makes this an easy process if you follow the steps below.

First, you need to enable the Distance Measuring Tool by clicking on Maps Labs, as shown below.

maps-a

 

Next, click “Enable” and then save.

maps-b

 

Next, click on the tiny tape measure as show below.

maps-c

 

Next click “English” for Miles and choose a starting location (usually your office) and then the farthest point out you’d like to go in all directions.

maps-d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy peasy right?

Posted in: Technology

Using Role Playing to Hire Sales People

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Using Role Playing To Hire Sales People

While many companies hire sales reps based on candidates’ experience, others find raw talent to be a stronger harbinger of success. But, how do you identify and measure “raw talent” during the hiring process?

bigbang

Austin Merritt, the COO at Software Advice–a website that presents reviews and ratings of software for sales professionals–recently shared how he objectively measures raw talent while recruiting sales reps. In a post on Software Advice’s New Talent Times blog, Merritt shares his “coffee scenario,” a role-playing scenario used when hiring for his commission-based inside sales telemarketing team. It closely imitates the process his team goes through when placing sales calls. Except, instead of advising the caller on what software to purchase, the sales candidate advises the caller on what coffee shop to visit. Here are a few key tips Merritt has shared about his process:

DEVELOP A SET OF COMPETENCIES TO LOOK FOR

What are the top uncoachable competencies required for a sales candidate to thrive in a role? For example, when hiring for their outside sales team, Software Advice grades along the following criteria:

  • Articulation – Do they clearly communicate their thoughts?

  • Energy – Does the candidate appear alert and genuine on calls?

  • Ability to take control – Can the candidate steer the conversation?

  • Ability to think on their feet – Can the candidate respond calmly, but quickly?

  • Coachability – Does the candidate understand the scenario enough to apply?

Your competencies may (and probably should) be different. Identify what empowers current star performers to be successful, and make your list of competencies around these qualities.

CREATE A PROJECT TO TEST THEM

The “coffee scenario” is effective because coffee is a familiar subject matter. Candidates are familiar with coffee, and it allows interviewers to focus on talent over domain expertise. The topic should be common enough for sales candidates to complete successfully without much preparation. In Software Advice’s instance, they set up a 10-minute mock sales call, but it doesn’t have be a phone call. Create something you can present to an applicant before meeting them in person.

USE A UNIVERSAL GRADE SCALE FOR PERFORMANCE

To ensure that every sales candidate gets a fair shot, develop a scoring method that can be kept consistent. If someone scores low in one area, but nails the others, it may be worthwhile to give the candidate another shot at the role-playing scenario. It doesn’t take too long, and by giving people a second chance, you’re leaving no stone unturned.

Before you bring someone to your office, try out a short role-playing scenario for them to showcase their raw talent. It’s a quick and easy way to critically assess strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of an interview process.

Posted in: Recruiting

New Intro Video

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We’ve very happy to announce that Sugar Shack Animation has finished our new intro/explanation video! The goal of the video is to help our new clients understand our service more quickly while maintaining our professional image.

We think they’ve nailed it!

Here’s Sugar Shack Animation’s Promo Video.  Check out their business videos here.

Posted in: Announcements, Time to Hire

How To Hire Sales People In a Group Environment – 10 Steps

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Hire Sales Reps in a Group Environment

During the financial collapse of 2001, I found myself in rough shape financially.  I answered an advertisement in the newspaper that simply read “Make $100,000, Call 555-1212”.  When I called the number, a pleasant young woman offered several interview times and provided directions to their office.  I honestly don’t remember asking a lot of questions about the job and I might have not even known what I’d be doing.  I drove to the interview later that week, wearing my best suit.  Upon arrival, I was greeted warmly by the receptionist who led me into a conference room with four other candidates who had already arrived.  “What the [expletive] is going on here?” I said to myself.  Was I to compete against these other fellows?  I had just walked into my first group interview!

Sales People Sitting

How do you keep your hiring costs down when it comes to hiring sales people?  I believe this is the number one issue managers and business owners are facing.  Costs can spiral out of control when hiring sales people due to attrition, training costs, recruiting costs, incompetence and lack of motivation.  Sales leaders realize that the key to running a successful sales organization relies on keeping expenses down.

Have you ever considered interviewing more than one salesperson at the same time?  Certain industries lend themselves to these hiring practices and among these are insurance sales, door to door sales, automotive sales and home improvement sales.  Opportunities that have a high degree of difficulty will have a correspondingly high failure rate.  Since many of your new sales representatives ultimately won’t make it, does it make sense to invest a lot of time in money in them?  While it may seem brutal, group hiring may be just the ticket to help you lower your recruiting costs and give you an advantage over your competition.

Over the years I’ve had many clients who were able to successfully recruit sales people using this tactic.  Here is what I’ve learned from them.

Here are the top 10 keys to hiring commission only sales reps in a group environment.

1. Be an impressive sales leader.  Typically the best person to host these events is the VITO (Very Important Top Officer) or owner of the company.  If you’re reading this, that’s probably you.  In order to convince new sales agents, you’ll have to demonstrate a high degree of confidence in your company and its products.  Consider honing your sales abilities by attending sales training such as Dale Carnegie or The Sandler Sales Institute. Improve your public speaking abilities by joining Toastmasters.  To find top sales reps you’ll need to become the best sales leader in your own company.

2. Create a welcoming and professional environment. When prospective salespeople walk through the door the first time, their initial impression will mean a lot.  Make sure there’s someone available to greet them and to help put them at ease.  If you don’t have a conference room available in your office, rent one at a nearby hotel or conference center. While I’ve heard of people turning around and walking out, it’s actually not that common.  Having already taken the time and expense to come down to your office and they’ll want to at least stick around to see what it’s all about!

3. Start out by explaining that this initial step is an orientation.  That you’ll go over all aspects of the opportunity, including compensation, what’s expected of them and what exactly they’ll be doing.  Ask them to hold their questions until the end.  This is what we used to call the “Dog and Pony Show”.  Your job during this phase is to sell them the opportunity without making it seem like you are selling them.  This is the most difficult part to do well and takes the most practice.

4. Make your opportunity impossible to pass up.  People don’t wake up one day and decide that they want to sell cars, insurance or do  door to door sales.  While there are other perks to being a commission only sales rep, the reason they’ll stick around is the pay.  Save the compensation for last, and make it good!

5. Show them the money! During the presentation, provide as many real world examples of other commission only sales reps who have succeeded in your organization as you can. Communicate that while they’ll work incredibly hard at first, things will eventually pay off in the medium to long term.  As we used to say “It works if you work it!”

6. Highlight the non-monetary aspects of the position.  The incredible exhilaration of being their own boss, the flexible work schedule and the ability to work from or near their own home. In addition the sales skills they’ll learn in this position will probably serve them in good stead later in their career.

7. Provide literature and brochures during the orientation.  This will help your company appear more professional and help candidates make their decision later.  Consider handing out a short survey at the end of the orientation to help you gauge their interest level.

8.  Keep sales reps around after the orientation. Invite interested candidates to stay for a one-on-one, more personal interview.  If you have more than a small handful to interview, good for you! If you have other sales managers, you can lighten your burden by having them interview a rep or two on your behalf.

9. Introduce your future sales reps to your top salespeople.  This will help them feel more comfortable with your company and increase the likelihood that they’ll come on board.

10. Finally, don’t chase after your new recruits! It’s important for them to understand that they need you more than you need them.  It’s important to convey this feeling during the entire process.

Those are the basics of how to hire sales people in a group environment.

Give it a shot and tells us about your experiences. Good luck!

Posted in: Commission Only Sales Reps, Door To Door Salespeople, How To Hire Sales People, Recruiting

Different Types of Salespeople

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Different Types of Salespeople

One question we get a lot, “What kinds of sales reps can you help find?”

In general, we can help companies find virtually all types of salespeople, except for certain types of specialized independent sales representatives.  Examples of specialized independent or “manufacturer sales representatives” that don’t do well with our service include cosmetics sales, beauty product sales, PCB (Printed Circuit Board) salespeople, or if you’re looking for help with marketing or publishing a book that you’ve written.

Some of the standard types of salespeople that we can help you source include Outside Sales, D2D (Door-to-Door) Sales, Inside Sales/Telemarketing Salespeople, Advertising Sales Reps and Sales Managers. Sub categories of these groups include Cable/Internet Sales, Merchant Services Salespeople, Automotive Salespeople, Construction Salesmen, Storm Damage Sales Reps, Insurance Sales Representatives, Energy Sales Reps, Technology Sales People (SAAS, Cloud, Managed Services, etc), SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Sales Agents, Time share Salespeople, Alarm System Sales, Furniture Sales Reps, Business Equipment/Copier Salesreps, Food Sales, Hospitality Sales people, Mortgage Brokers and Securities/Stocks salesman, Printing Sales Reps, Solar Sales, Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Sales Reps, Web Site/Mobile Web Sales People and many, many more.

Outside Sales Rep – A salesman who will use any means necessary to close a sale.  This is the hunter, never say die type of sales mentality.  Well versed with closing a sale.  Sales methodologies may include D2D (Door-To-Door) canvassing of businesses, phone sales (cold calling), networking, advertising/marketing and anything else they can think of to generate leads. Their favorite movie is probably Glengarry Glen Ross.

Door-To-Door Sales Rep – Fairly self explanatory! Sales representatives who come knocking at your door.  These types of reps are on everyone’s Christmas list every year and we’re always happy to see them.  Even in 2013, there is a great need for this type of sales rep, whether it be for Storm Damage, Energy Deregulation, Cable/Comcast, Pest Control, Alarm Systems, Water Purification, and Waste/Trash services.

Advertising Salesperson – Anyone involved in the various types of advertising sales, such as digital media, print, television or radio.

Inside Sales Rep – These are salesmen who may display the traits of the outside salesperson,  however they do it all from the telephone.  This could be inbound sales or outbound sales. Also known as “Telesales”, typically when inside sales reps are making outbound calls with the goal of closing the sale.  We can help your company find any type of telemarketing or telesales representative.

Posted in: Must Read, Recruiting

We Appeared in Forbes.com

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Time To Hire appears in Forbes.com regarding video testimonials

 

Click the image to see the entire article.

 

Posted in: Announcements, Time to Hire

10 Things to Consider in Your Sales Hiring Approach

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Ten Things to Consider in Your Sales Hiring Approach

Hiring commission-based sales people or for commission only sales opportunities can often be tough; however, there are ways to make these positions more desirable to candidates.

If you have a commission only or commission-based opportunity to offer, here are some points that you should consider including to make your opening stand out from the rest:

1) Make sure you can provide an annual earnings figure for both an average/typical rep and a motivated rep. Commission sales reps are generally money oriented, and it is important to let them know their potential earnings right off the bat.

2) Are commissions uncapped? Or is there an unlimited earning potential? Sales people want to know that their hard work will be rewarded and may be inclined to accept the position if they can earn six figures.

3) Will there be opportunities for advancement, and if so, are these salaried roles? Knowing that a commission-only / commission-based structure is just a starting point could encourage candidates to seriously consider the role.

4) Do you offer a bonus or incentive structure? Again, sales reps want to know that their hard work will be rewarded, so performance-based bonuses and/or signing bonuses, and incentives such as cash, gift cards, prizes or trips are just some suggestions to get people interested in the opportunity.

5) Will sales reps receive reimbursements or an allowance for car or cell phone expenses? When candidates have to pay work related expenses out of pocket, providing them with an allowance or reimbursement always helps. Or, you might consider providing them with the use of a company cell phone or vehicle. You might also want to consider this for laptops if one is required for the role.

6) Is there a paid training program, or a guarantee that sales reps will earn while getting started? It could take a bit of time for a rep to build their client base, so offering paid training or an initial guarantee can ease them into a commission-based/commission only position.

7) Do you offer a draw against commission? People have bills to pay, so knowing that they will be receiving a regularly scheduled draw against commissions will help ease their reservations about commission only/commission-based roles.

8) Will salespeople be provided with leads, or will they be cold calling potential clients? Candidates are more inclined to consider a role if they are supplied with leads. This also works well for entry level type sales roles.

9) Can the sales rep work flexible hours? Candidates often look into these positions because they are offered the chance to create their own schedule and make it as flexible as needed. This way, they can work around picking up kids from school, little league games, or in some cases, their college studies.

10) Is telecommuting an option? Candidates are attracted by the prospect of working from the comfort of their home office. If this is possible in the position you are offering, make that clear from the outset, and also detail if there are any restrictions on telecommuting (e.g. 2 days a week they must be in the office for meetings etc. but can work from home the rest of the week).

While we fully understand that in many situations, none of these suggestions may make sense for you, please consider making the candidates fully aware of all benefits (tangible or intangible) that your opportunity has to offer them.

Next time you are looking to hire commission-based or commission only reps, be sure to consult these suggestions, and make your opportunity shine among the rest!

Posted in: Recruiting

B2B Networking as a Hiring Tool

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Business to Business Networking as a Hiring Tool

Have you ever considered attending networking functions to find new talent?   Networking events are the natural habitat of any self respecting B2B sales rep.  A quick Google search (eg., “Dallas networking events calendar 2012”) in your area should point you in the right direction.

Make it your mission to attend at least two events per week until you find the right groups.  These groups typically meet early in the morning or during lunch.  In addition to finding some new sales reps, you might meet quality vendors and even drum up new business for your own firm.

If you’re wondering how to get the most out of these groups, I recommend the “give to get” philosophy.  Your networking efforts won’t really be that effective unless you put others success ahead of your own.

When you meet with someone new, never offer your business card unless they ask. If they didn’t ask for it, they’re not interested right? When you offer your card without an invitation, you’re pushing your company on someone who may not have any interest in you or what you’re looking for.  Instead, be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.  Ask yourself how you might be able to help this person.  Are they looking to fill a position? Maybe  they’re having issues with their accounting system and need a referral. If you think there may be a match, ask for their card.  If you really want to make an impression,  have your assistant send Thank You cards to each person you met — better yet, do this yourself!

The more people you help and connect, the more people will be talking about you in a positive light – and the more people will be willing to help you further your goals.

Effective networking takes a lot of time and patience, however the rewards can be phenomenal.  Start building your network and you’ll be amazed how far it’ll take you.

Posted in: Recruiting, Sales Tips

What We Don't Do

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MLM (Multi Level Marketing) type businesses.

We have found over the years that, in general, MLM business is not good business for the majority of persons involved.  At least those who are not on the “ground floor.”  While you may feel that your MLM/Network Marketing business doesn’t fall into this category, it’s just too difficult and time consuming for us to evaluate each MLM business that comes across our desk.

How do we identify an MLM?  If a company charges a monthly ongoing fee to be employed with it, it is almost always an MLM.   Many companies may charge an initial fee but aren’t necessarily involved with Network Marketing.

Manufacturers Sales Reps / Independent Sales Reps

We don’t work with companies who are looking to partner with manufacturers  (AKA Independent Sales Reps) sales reps. This is an area that has created a lot of confusion – after all, an independent sales rep is also a commission only sales rep.  An Independent Sales Rep is a person who is self employed – someone working for themselves who is not affiliated with a single product or service.  They represent “rep” several products that typically have a common prospect/target company.

If you are looking for a Manufacturers/Independent rep, you probably are looking for a sales person who already calls on the type of businesses you are looking to sell into.

An example: A company has designed and is manufacturing a new clothing line/aircraft part/shampoo/makeup/automotive accessory and would like to get the product into the hands of distributors or retailers.  They would approach a Manufacturers Sales Rep who routinely walks into those prospective retailers and offer them a commission to “rep” their product or service.

There are many sites online that provide this service, such as www.rephunter.net or www.gotsales.com. If you’d like more, just ask, we’d be happy to help.

Build a Sales Team for You

While we’d like to, our company just isn’t set up to handle this.  Our goal is to find you some quality people and let you take it from there. A simple Google search will reveal quite a few companies that will allow you to outsource your entire sales process.

 

 

Posted in: Time to Hire

Are You Ready to Hire?

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Are you ready to hire a commission salesperson?

Are you ready to hire a sales rep? When a commission sales rep calls, will you be ready to answer all their questions? What is the compensation structure? Is this commission only? Who will I be targeting in my sales efforts?

If you are expecting a sales rep to transform your business by creating and implementing a sales strategy for you, you may be disappointed. Nobody knows your business better than you, the business owner. In general, sales reps need to be led. They need to know how to be successful in terms of your business, so ultimately you are the one who must create the sales strategy. The sales process should be well documented and easily understandable.

Do you know what you’re going to pay your commission sales reps? Have you worked through the math? There is no exact methodology for paying commission only sales reps, but there are some general parameters which seem to work. If you’re selling a service, you should pay between 15-50%, with the most common number being 20%. Your number might be more or less, depending on your profit margin, difficulty of sale and whether you are providing sales reps with free leads. Just about every future salesperson who responds is going to ask this question, so make sure you’re prepared to answer confidently.

What does your messaging look like? When potential sales reps see your message, will they want to work with your company? Candidates are similar to prospects – they’re going to research as much as they can about your company before deciding to work with you. They’ll study your website and logo and make instant decisions about your company – decisions that may prevent them from picking up the phone to call. Does your website or candidate portal look as professional as it could?

How many commission sales reps will you hire? Don’t make the mistake of hiring more people than you can properly manage. Salespeople take time and energy. Do you have a comprehensive training program in place?

It’s your responsibility to have all the tools in place to help commission sales people be successful.

Posted in: Must Read, Recruiting

Our New Website

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We’re very excited today to launch our new website!

When we started this project, our goal was to create a site with a more contemporary look which better represented the work we do. We hope you agree.

In addition to the new design, you’ll now be able to complete our customer questionnaire and complete your order online.

Many thanks to all the designers and developers at Gravitate, for taking our vision and making it a reality.

We hope you enjoy the new site and please let us know what you think.

Posted in: Announcements