Monday, March 11, 2013

Seven Salesman Traits You Should Look For in Hiring

"Nothing Happens Until Something Is Sold"

I'm pretty sure that I said this first.  Maybe it will show up in a book of quotations some day with my name after it.  The first time I wrote it for publication was in my first book over 30 years ago.  And this phrase has appeared in every book on business that I've written over those 30 some years.  However many times it is repeated, there are just millions of small business owners, managers, and marketers who completely lose sight of this critical statement.

Examples abound:
  • Beautiful stores with $8 an hour sales people and no commission or incentive
  • Amazing products with no sales force or strategy in place
  • Beautiful websites, print ads, and brochures with no call to action
  • Highly trained professionals who've never read a book on closing sales
  • Phone customer service people who have not been trained to upsell
Do you recognize yourself or your business in that list.  It is the short list.  It could be so much longer.  The bottom line is that most owners don't like to sell, don't like and/or know how to hire, train, or motivate sales people, and aren't willing to learn.  Then, these same poorly trained and unmotivated owners place no value in sales professionalism, so they hire people that can't sell and pay them less than their housekeeper. 

The solution is to do the opposite.  If you hope to be successful, you as the owner or manager are going to have to learn to sell, and to hire, and motivate sales people.  There are classic books on this subject, including my own, Running a 21st Century Small Business by Warner Business Books, and available at    However, I make no claim to having written the best book on sales.  No such hubris here.  Check out classics like Think and Grow Rich or anything written by Og Mandino.


Outstanding Sales Staff Makes All the Difference 


One client retailer had a stellar sales guy who left to pursue better money.  Over the next months he wondered why his sales were declining.  The rest of his staff had no background, talent, training, or even desire to sell.  They loved the product, but they didn't know how to sell.

I finally convinced the client that this was the issue, and he found another outstanding sales guy.  Sales shot up immediately, and even eclipsed earlier sales levels.

Basics for Picking a Sales Person for Your Company

Much has been written about this subject.  And there are at least 10 different approaches.  Here is my list in kind of an order of importance:
  1. Competitive - Hire athletes with a history of setting goals and beating opponanats
  2. Finishers - Hire folks who finish their tasks.  Have them tell you in the interview examples of finishing or not finishing.
  3. Enthusiastic - Rare to find outstanding sales people who are not super enthusiastic
  4. Learners - You want someone who will learn all there is to know about your store, products, services, unique selling proposition, how to sell, who is the customer . . .
  5. Sell you - First impression, second impression, close you on the hire.  If not, what makes you think they will give a good first impression, second impression and close customers
  6. Love commissions - Any good sales person believes that they will make more on commission
  7. Interested in Filling Needs - Does the prospect ask about you, about the company, about your goals.  Then turn the information into a pitch for his being hired?  Good prospect.
What other sales traits would you put on the list?

Here are actions you should consider on this sixth day of the dare:
  • How are your own personal sales skills. Purchase a book or video on selling and improve your capabilities.
  • Set up a system to keep track of sales performance, especially closes and dollars per invoice.
  • Review your sales staff. Anyone not closing at least 40% of their opportunities should be let go or reassigned to a non-sales position.  They are wasting an asset. A lead is an asset.
  • Any salesperson not closing at least 50% should be retrained. 
  • Train on how to increase dollars per transaction, and to create a client instead of just a customer.
  • Consider commissions, incentives, bonuses, spiffs, contests. Salespeople are generally very competitive and will work for these incentives just to win.

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