The question of the century: Where do you find great salespeople? (The key to growing your business.)
Answer: The great salespeople are working. They may not be happy, they may not be satisfied with their situation, they may be looking to change -- but they're working.
OK, so how do you let them know you've got the opportunity of a lifetime available? What's the best method to recruit? How will you know where to find the right one?
When you need a great salesperson, you need to look beyond traditional recruitment methods to be successful. The best way to recruit is face-to-face. There are two types of face-to-face recruiting:
1. Direct solicitation - "I want you."
2. Indirect solicitation - "Do you know someone who might be interested?"
Indirect is always the best (safest) because it does not put anyone in business or career danger, and it allows the other person (the one you may want) to make the first move.
Here are 10.5 places to look, and one (.5) special thing to do, that will help you find a great salesperson:
1. Your vendors - A great indirect source because they're in contact with so many people in your industry. (Note: You must deliver the message to them a few times before they act.)
2. Present employees - You'd be surprised at the number of people working for you who would love to be in sales if given the opportunity. Employees make great salespeople because their product knowledge is in place, and they are eager to achieve. Bonus: because the employee was previously known to your customers in a non-sales capacity, customers will now see them more as consultants than salespeople.
3. People who call on you - If they're trying to sell you, they may buy you -- or know someone who would.
4. Customers - (danger) - Taking a salesperson from a customer will result in a lost account, AND that customer will talk about what you did to EVERYONE in your industry and community. Use the indirect method only. Don't solicit their salespeople. Just don't.
5. Competitors - Second best source - biggest danger. Your reputation is at stake. If you steal one, be certain that he or she is NOT to bring anything from his old company. Taking their salesperson is bad enough, taking their business goes way beyond fair/legal play. No customer lists, customers, prospects, training programs -- no nothing. If hire a salesperson away from a competitor -- make it a clean, ethical, professional move.
6. Trade Show - Best source. Everyone from your industry is there. This arena is especially good for finding unhappy salespeople in non-competing companies, but familiar with your customers and your industry. Trade shows are the most fertile and least politically disruptive area to find great sales people.
7. Networking - Business meetings, chamber of commerce events, and business groups can provide a great connection to the right person.
8. Word of mouth to the business community through your business friends - Like networking, use your business reputation in the community to get the word out that an opportunity exists in your company.
9. Your present sales team - Their word of mouth is the most powerful (or the most damning). Are you treating your sales team well enough to get referrals?
10. Head-hunters - A dangerous method, because they may not know your industry -- and their objective is to collect a fee.
11. Advertising - Yes, you can advertise -- but be creative. The local newspaper typically is the most expensive, least effective, and most time consuming -- because you get lots of unemployed salespeople. The good ones are working. Your local "business weekly" is a better bet, because it reaches the employed, and is read by the assertive. Trade publications (yours and your customers) are also OK. You might also try your own company newsletter. An article about the opportunity might pull just the person you're looking for.
11.5 Be attractive - If you're great, if you treat your salespeople great, the word gets out about you. Your sales team will be out on the street bragging about how great it is to work for you. People will call you. How do your salespeople talk about their job behind your back?
Finding a great salesperson is challenging, but when you realize how important the right choice is, and how much money that choice can bring you (or cost you), it's worth investing some quality time.
Here are a few more success strategies:
* Approach an individual low key. Make them qualify. Don't sell the position - make it attractive enough for them to buy it.
* Start your conversation with questions about them, not stuff about you.
* If you interview someone who says, "I'm in sales and I haven't been able to find a job in 6 months," DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT HIRING THAT PERSON.
* If someone has a bunch of hard luck stories -- you'll be the next hard luck story if you hire him.
Here's a point to ponder:Experiencing high turnover? It's time to conduct a self-evaluation. Turnover costs ten times more than the few bucks you're trying to save by under-supporting, under-training, or under-paying your salespeople. You can blame everyone and everything -- but most of high turnover is caused by poor company performance, not poor sales performance.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to www.yoursuccessstore.com. (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.