A problem every business faces is where to find good salespeople. It has plagued businesses ever since salespeople were "invented." Today, some firms use a "profile of successful salespeople" approach. They figure that if they can identify those attributes successful salespeople have, employees with the same attributes will become good and, hopefully, great salespeople. Some firms look for people with a personality that fits a format: that is, "A" types, "B" types, etc.
Seldom trying to fit a salesperson into a mold works. There is not one personality type that insures great selling, nor is there one resource for finding good salespeople. Every resource has its positive and negative aspects. When looking for salespeople, you should look at the following nine resources:
1. From Within the Organization: Look right under your own nose; those already in other departments in the firm. They might be working in the warehouse, stockroom, receiving, shipping, or on the technical staff.
Positive: They are already familiar and comfortable with your firm's products and services and they will understand how their former job fits into the selling picture. When the opportunity arises, they will know, because of their familiarity with the internal workings of the firm, what changes can be made so the sale can be made.
Negative: Many people went into their jobs so they wouldn't have to sell. It may be difficult for them to become comfortable with the idea that they can sell.
2. From the Competition: either locally or from another area.
Positive: The advantage is that they know already the competition, their strengths, and more important now, their weaknesses.
Negative: It is often hard for the new person to adapt to a new way of doing business. Also, the current staff may have a hard time accepting "the enemy" into the organization.
3. From Suppliers: Those who have been selling your firm the things that make up your products and services.
Positive: They have a background in the industry, its problems, and customers.
Negative: They will have to be taught a mew way of doing business and how products or services are used by your firm's customers.
4. From Other Industries:
Positive: They will not have to be retrained in selling.
Negative: If they are not able to transfer their selling skills, they must be un-trained and retrained in their new employers methods of selling. It will take time for them to become familiar with your firm's products and services, the way your business operates, and what your customers have been buying, talking about, and looking for.
5. Those Who Have Never Sold Before:
Positive: The advantage is they can train them the way you want.
Negative: You have to!
6. From Your Firm's Customers: current or past.
Positive: They understand your firm's products and services from the customers' points of view. Most likely they will be familiar with the competition's products and services.
Negative: They may have a hard time gaining the confidence of their former competitors -- your firm's current and prospective customers.
7. From Staff's Relatives and Friends:
Positive: Your firm is seen in a positive light because your staff has, most likely, been telling their family and friends who are prospective employees the positive aspects of working for you. In addition, many people like the idea that they will be working with people they know.
Negative: If either employee has to be disciplined or another problem arises, you have to understand that both the problem employee and their relative or friend will be reacting to management's actions.
8. From Family and Friends:
Positive: There is an ongoing rapport that often energizes the working relationship.
Negative: Friendships and families have broken up due to strife in the workplace.
9. From the Current Sales Staff: Those your firm has a lot of money tied up in already.
Positive: It costs a lot less to retrain and reassign job responsibilities than it does to try to train new people. Sometimes the devil one knows has the potential to be far better than the devil one doesn't know.
Negative: You may find that your current staff's imperfections may be due to your lack of providing affordable products and services, training, sales tools, supervision, and guidance.
No matter which of these nine resources you use, salespeople can only be as good as your firm and its products or services will allow, what tools they are given to work with, and the extent of customers' wants, needs, and ability to buy.
Building a perfect salesperson, like building a perfect building, is an impossible dream. Great salespeople, like great buildings, can be built. They will be considered great when they meet customers' expectations. Only then will salespeople meet the firm's expectations.
Great salespeople, like great buildings, are not built in a day, three days, three weeks, three months. Great salespeople and great buildings are the result of many years of continuous training by great teachers.
Copyright © 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Alan J. Zell, Ambassador of Selling, Portland, OR. All rights reserved.