Salespersons: 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 acceptable staff in some semblance of order:

1. Sells at least $50,000 monthly
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, but it's more difficult in Hollander and
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 that 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 ascertain that in a moment.) Please read "First Break All The Rules". This book devotes a whole chapter to why scripting does and doesn't work, and will provide useful insight into why some folks have what it takes and some 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. Some folks use personality testing: I don't have a strong opinion on its usefulness. (Please send me more info on these tests if you know of successes.)

The key? (Other than making the best hire you believe possible.) 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 $50k per month as a minimum level of acceptability, $15,000 in the first month ISNT 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 simply no reason to keep a salesperson whose sales trend isn't directionally correct. 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 that they thought could do the job. After about six 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 that could do the job and had three near record days in a row. We lose a lot of potential sales fooling around with weak salespersons. Also, all salespersons should be on commission; the days of salary are gone. This is one of many areas of pay-for-performance, which I help owners with on every consulting assignment.

Next month: More good stuff from Chapter 5.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT! Please e-mail Ron if you would like previous articles.
You can learn more about Ron Sturgeon at — click on "more about Ron Sturgeon".) He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.

To submit your letter to the editor here at American Recycler, click here.