Salespersons: Lordy, Lordy, Where Do I Get a Good One?

It’s the same old story: how do we find good salespeople? First, let’s take a SWAG (Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess) at defining what a good one is. The following is a rough list of the attributes of good salespeople:

  1. Sells at least $75,000 monthly (this can be much more if your average invoices are high) I HAVE NEVER SEEN A YARD THAT IS PROFITABLE IF SALES PER SALESMAN IS LESS THAN $35,000 PER MONTH.
  2. Has happy customers, credits below the median, and writes credits in a timely manner.
  3. Has good attendance and a good attitude.
  4. Protects our margins by not just selling on price. (Pinnacle will track this for you.)
  5. Is willing to train and mentor others.

Now, how do we get one, train one, and keep one? Where do they come from? I have seen ex-shoe salespersons sell over $200,000 monthly, and others who appeared competent with good attitudes who, after a year of training, couldn’t sell $25,000 per month. I am firmly convinced that they don’t have to come from within our industry. If you can, hire a good one from within the industry, and you should, of course, always consider promoting from within. In all cases, some criteria should be used in hiring, training and evaluating.

If you don’t have some written policies, consider putting some together for salespersons. Also, although I have seen strict sales scripting, and no scripting, I am convinced that some folks have the gift needed for this job; others simply don’t. (More on how to tell in a moment.) Please read Marcus Buckingham’s book, First Break All the Rules. This book devotes a whole chapter to why scripting does and doesn’t work, and it will provide useful insight into why some folks have what it takes, and others don’t. The book is also helpful in understanding how to have happier employees and what that can mean to your profits.

Make sure that you have a good job description, albeit brief, for all new applicants for salespersons. Some folks use personality testing: I don’t have a strong opinion on its usefulness. (Please send me info if you are using personality tests to successfully hire salespeople.)

The real key? Make sure that you have some reasonable milestones for the new staff, following a week or so of training and tutorials with existing staff. I see folks lingering with weak staff 6 months after they are hired, hoping they will get better. The gift of gab, quick thinking, and other skills necessary to fill this position will present themselves within days, certainly within weeks of placement. If your goal is $100k per month as a minimum level of acceptability, $15,000 in the first month ISN’T GOING TO MAKE IT.  In the second month, use $26-$35k as a minimum requirement. Set your own minimum milestones and make sure the applicant knows those goals, in advance. I even prefer to break the goals into weeks as well. (For instance, if the second month’s goal is $30k, make the first week $5,500, but the last week $8,500) There is no reason to keep a salesperson whose sales trend isn’t moving upward. When they stall at $30k, they can stay there for months, even years,

I recently saw an owner of a new yard put someone in place as a salesperson because he thought this person could do the job. After about 6 weeks, it became obvious that this person just didn’t have what it takes. The owner got lucky and replaced the weak person with someone who could do the job and had 3 near-record days in a row. The moral: We lose a lot of potential sales fooling around with weak salespersons. Also, all your salespersons should be on commission; the days of salary are gone. This is one of many areas where I help yard owners to become more productive using pay for performance.

Remember only you can make business great!

Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies.

Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for- performance, and find new customers on the web.

As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business.

To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232, rons@MrMissionPossible.com5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.