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Chris LoCurto

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April 5, 2012

How To Hire Salespeople

Hiring salespeople is vital for all organizations. With that said, ALL people sell. I don’t care what your role is, you sell. Even if you’re a one person company that only operates online, you still have to sell your product. In fact, until you sell something, you don’t have a business.

For me, hiring the right salespeople can make your company. NOT hiring the right ones can do just the oposite. Therefore getting the right person(s) onboard is crucial. And while everyone is in sales, not everyone is great at it.

I recently received this question from some of my Facebook followers:

My wife & I operate a tutoring company in Charlotte, NC. We’re ramping up for our summer day camps and have begun to consider hiring a sales person for the team. In hiring a sales person, do you have any tips and pointers that specifically would help in hiring for sales?

1. What to look for?
2. Reasonable compensation models?
3. What to expect?
4. What questions do we not know?

Thanks in advance!
~Pete & Rebekah Goode

Goode question Pete and Rebekah. (Sorry for that) One-on-one I would give you the long answer. But here goes the blog post length answer:

  • What to look for? – Since you will be selling to all personality styles, I would look for someone with an I/D personality in the DISC profile. In layman’s terms, someone who is very personable and loves people, is able to leave the cave kill something and drag it home, and doesn’t struggle with the conflict of closing a sale. The parents need to trust them, get a sense of trust for your product, and understand WHY they need to purchase your tutoring. Also, find someone who is passionate about what you do. I would take passion over education everyday and twice on Sunday.
  • Reasonable compensation models? – I would try to do the draw against commission if at all possible. Read Setting Up Commission Structures for more info on that. Also know that it may take a bit to get the pipeline full. Therefore, you may need to pay them a base salary for a bit until they do. In other words, if it will take three months before they can put food on the table, then you may just pay the first three months as a base instead of a draw.
  • What to expect? – You are going to have to spend a lot of time “tutoring” your salesperson. They have to completely understand the WHY behind your product, not the way. You also have to make sure that you are inspiring, recognizing, and rewarding your salesperson…just like you do with your students.
  • What questions do we not know? – Scale out what the sales and compensation will look like for three months, six months, a year, and five years. Salespeople need to see how they are going to prosper by working for you. Will my kids be really skinny? If so, that’s a problem. Ask them about successes they have had at past jobs and how they got them. What were the toughest issues they’ve had in the past and how did they handle them? This will help you to see how they process and solve problems.

There ya go, the short answer.

Question: What tips do you have for hiring salespeople?

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  • MemphisHart

    I just got on to being a salesman in my company, I was sick of being in the retail side where nothing was happening, but I am not a good salesman, I am trying but I need something and I dunno if I have it! I have been a sales rep all of April and sold one tablet for my computer store, what do you suggest?

  • LouiseThaxton

    I would say that they definitely must love people – and then believe in what they are “selling” – and the company that they are working for.   It is all about the belief system that one has.  
     
    If I “believe” that what I am selling will give you a better quality of life, and if I believe that my company can do it better than anyone else, and if I care about you as a person – I am going to do whatever I can to get you to purchase this product! 
     
     

  • epicenterone

    I think my question may have gotten lost in the Disqus change up – but I was wondering if a sales position is something you MAKE ROOM for in your budget no matter how big you are? 
     
    How do you deal with this when you’re small…guess that’s the question.  Thanks for the great post!  

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Sales is a must to grow. And good salespeople pay for themselves. (Look up commissions in my search to find examples.) No matter what size you are, a draw against commission, if they sell well, doesn’t cost you anything.

  • Pete Goode

    Hi Chris, Thanks for answering our question. As a note, people can learn more about our company at http://www.InGoodeCompany.com. Who knows, maybe our future sales person will be among the readers. 
     

  • http://techoctave.com/c7 TVD

    Great points Chris, but I’d just rather not compare customers to carrion- I prefer friends.

    Also, I do agree passion trumps education, but neither is as important as process. In the end, how you sell is exponentially more valuable than what you sell.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Chris! I found that your gift book “Go-Getter” threw a great light on this subject. In that book, I was able relate to the characteristics of the hero William Peck and his attitude which are of paramount importance in succeeding in sales.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Aaaaaabsolutely!! We like to say leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Yup! That is what is sales people are meant for.

        Subject: [closblog] Re: How To Hire Salespeople

  • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

    Chris this is a test of your commenting system without Disqus.

    CJ, look up Chris’s blog post on August 15, 2011, “Four Must Take Steps to a Sale”. It elaborates on his answer to your question.

    Hitting post now – if you are reading this comment, it is working!

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

      I can read it! Hi Jana! :)

    • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

      And a follow up – the first time I hit “post comment”, it gave an error message. The second time I hit “post comment” , it said it was a duplicate!! But, the comment appeared despite the error message.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

        I’m still getting an error message saying that there are no posts to show… do you get that too?

        • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

          Yes, Lily – that’s what it tells me when I tell it to post the comment! But, the comment posts anyway. I use the wordpress commenting system on my blog and EVERYONE posts twice on their first try. I am about to switch to Disqus but now having second thoughts. Michael Hyatt recommends it because of its ease of use. HAH!!

          (Chris, please excuse us for changing the subject from your blog post.)

          • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

            Here’s my test comment…

            • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

              I got the Error 404 too. Hmmm…..

          • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

            So have these last posts worked well?

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

        Stupid systems!!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      WOOT WOOT!!!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com Lily Kreitinger

    I’ve been on both sides of the table, hiring and being hired. I’ve worked at places that offered low compensation but lined up with my personal and professional goals and I took the job because I knew I could learn, contribute and make a difference (plus I’m a high S/C and money is not my main motivator…). I can say that culture fit is a key element in the hiring process. They can be a top salesperson and NOT be a good fit for the particular organization.

    As a hiring leader, I would ask some of these questions:

    – Why would you like to work for us?
    – What motivates you in your work?
    – What are some of your career goals for the next five years?
    – What would you consider a great work environment that you would thrive in?

    I consider them to be a great candidate if they ask some of these questions:

    – How do you see my skills fit your needs?
    – What opportunities for growth do you see for us as a team?
    – How do you evaluate performance?
    – How do you describe your culture?
    – What would I see if I stood outside your building at 5 PM on a weekday?

    Once the hire happens, train, train, train, evaluate, reassess and train/mentor again!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Girl!!!! Great stuff!!

  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    What happened to Disqus? Seems to be missing here.

    I’m wondering if there is a good time and a bad time to try and hire a salesperson? I mean, is this something you almost have to make room for in your budget at all times?

    Or is there a time in your company when you just need to make due with yourself and your team (no matter how good/bad of a salesperson or people you are? If you’re bad – trying to learn yesterday how to become better I guess. )

    Just curious. And thanks for a great post.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    I’ve been on both sides of the table, hiring and being hired. I’ve worked at places that offered low compensation but lined up with my personal and professional goals and I took the job because I knew I could learn, contribute and make a difference (plus I’m a high S/C and money is not my main motivator…). I can say that culture fit is a key element in the hiring process. They can be a top salesperson and NOT be a good fit for the particular organization.

    As a hiring leader, I would ask some of these questions:

    – Why would you like to work for us?
    – What motivates you in your work?
    – What are some of your career goals for the next five years?
    – What would you consider a great work environment that you would thrive in?

    I consider them to be a great candidate if they ask some of these questions:

    – How do you see my skills fit your needs?
    – What opportunities for growth do you see for us as a team?
    – How do you evaluate performance?
    – How do you describe your culture?
    – What would I see if I stood outside your building at 5 PM on a weekday?

    Once the hire happens, train, train, train, evaluate, reassess and train/mentor again!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Lily, I have deactivated Disqus for now. Did you do this comment in the Disqus dashboard? It didn’t show up on the blog.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        I did post it on Disqus. Do you want me to repost?

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        OK. It’s in there now! I thought wow, I’ve been banned from the blog! LOL :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/efosterw Eric Foster-Whiddon

    When leading your first start-up business (with quite a learning curve, might I add), how do you paint a picture for the future of a new hire when the best you have is an educated guess about what the future will look like? I want to be careful to make promises on which I can deliver while also leading my team members toward the vision that they may still be squinting to see.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Don’t promise. Paint the picture of what it can be. Share what you believe God is sharing with you, and how that plays out for them. The important thing is that they have a constant vision, not promises. Promises they hold you to and wait for them to happen. Vision they grab hold of and help bring it to fruition.

      • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

        Wow, what great advice Chris. I’m writing this down. “Promises they hold you to and WAIT for them to happen. Vision they grab hold of and help bring it to fruition.” Thank you for this.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Chris, you mentioned you’d take passion over education. What’s your view of experience vs. education? Passion vs. experience?

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I see experience as education. You now know what to do, so that’s great. But I would still take a passionate inexperienced person over an experienced person without passion.

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        You make me feel better, Chris :)
        My passion definitely outweighs my education/experience!

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        (Hopefully this goes through this time…)
        You encouraged me, Chris :)
        My passion definitely outweighs my experience/education!

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

          Yess!! It went through :)

        • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          It worked!!

  • tbric

    Start with the “why”. Why do you want to work here, why will this be a good fit, etc. Also, (being in sales) I would want to start out “in the trenches” to learn every detail about the company, processes, people before going out in the field. I also want the freedom to sell, without having to go to my manager with every detail. (think car salesman having to go to the manager with every question.) Give me the information and pricing and watch me go!

    If I (the salesman) believe in the company and product, you better be prepared to grow your company!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      AAAAMEN!!

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Being in a hospital setting I do not deal with our marketers very often, but when I worked for a private practice several years ago, the team that was assembled had very little imaging technology experience.

    So much so, that we (as MRI technologists) had to go on visits with them to referring physician offices to field questions for them about MRI that they could not answer themselves.

    Awkward!

    And surprisingly, they went out of business within 3 years.

    The “why” is crucial, but the “what” should ALWAYS be a prerequisite!

  • http://twitter.com/Teknoid13 Fred Meinberg

    Chris: Okay, I get the “How to Hire” part, my challenge is where to look for potentially good salespeople. If we can find ’em, we can run ’em through our screening process and hire the good ones. What do we search for? Where are good places to hunt for sales candidates?
    Thanks!
    P.S. EntreLeadership was fantastic! Thanks for the excellent learning!

    • tbric

      Look to people you already know. You don’t want to steal them from someone else, but if done correctly (as Dave/Chris teach) it is a good place to find someone. They don’t have to be in sales either. Look for someone with the heart of a teacher. Customers buy from people they trust and learn something from. No one wants to be “sold”.

      • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

        “Look for someone with the heart of a teacher.”
        That’s so encouraging! My husband is doing something along the line of sales right now and he used to be a teacher that people just loved!
        Thanks :)

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s the great question. I would start by looking in the field that you sell to. We sell FPU to churches, and the crazy thing is, we’ve had a ton of former pastors come on board to sell it.

      Also, if your culture is one where people brag about it, champions will come your way.

      Try offering a bounty to your team members for someone who gets hired and makes it past their 90 days.

  • CJ

    Chris: Can you elaborate on “the conflict of closing a sale”?

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Sure. For some personality styles, trying to close someone is very difficult. It creates stress and can become hard to do. So some people can take others all the way to the close and not be able to finish the process due to their perceived stress. Others never think of it as stressful at all. They’re like a golden retriever, let’s go, let’s go!! Does that make more sense?

      • CJ

        Yes. That’s where I thought you were going with the phrase. Are there keys to taking the stress and lack of finishing the close out of the equation?

        • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Four things have to happen for every sell:
          Qualify them
          Build Rapport with them
          Educate them
          so you can Close them

          Do the first three properly and the close should be natural and considerably less stressful.

          • Anonymous

            That may be a great series for the Podcast. Going beyond the tasks, qualifying, rapport, the education process and the close by using real life examples of how each of those steps take place.

            • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

              No doubt!

  • Mark S.

    I appreciated your point about helping the person see what working for you in the long term. As humans, I think we naturally gravitate towards the future and growth, so painting that vision gives the person somewhere to go. It provides buy in, and without buy in, they will at best be a mediocre member of the team and at worst a short term (if lucky) headache.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Spot on Mark!!