dan27Yesterday  we talked about how contract manufacturers need sales and marketing  So, being a big proponent of the putting your money where your mouth is  school of thought, this week we’re going to talk about finding and hiring the right salespeople to sell your services.

“Aren’t sales people alike?” I hear you asking. Yes, in some ways they are, but in other ways not so much. So, let’s start with what you should look for in a great salesperson:

  • A great salesperson should have the passion to sell. Remember the adage, hire for passion you can teach the product.
  • She should “get it” and “it” is the love of the sale, the pitch, the talk, the close. A great salesperson will love the whole idea of the hunt.
  • He should be technical but not too technical, you are looking for sales people, not engineers. Engineers, as salespeople lack certain skills the most basic of which, they hate to ask for the order. It’s as though they feel it’s beneath them to ask for something. And, they love answering questions not asking them.
  • The best sales people are curious. They truly want to know about their customers’ companies. They honestly want to find out all they can about the people they are selling to.
  • Sales people are people pleasers. They want to make people happy that’s why they love coming to a customer meeting with their bag full of solutions.
  • And yes, they are competitive, they love to win and the harder the challenge to get the order, the more competitive they are.
  • Very good sales people don’t mind making you uncomfortable and the more left-brained you are the more a good salesperson will make you uncomfortable by pushing you out of your comfort zone.
  • Speaking of being uncomfortable, a great salesperson will make the people in your company uncomfortable especially if the company is not performing too well. A great sales people will have no problem relaying your customers’ problems to you and of course offering a solution of what you should be doing about it.
  • And that’s because a great salesperson is the ultimate customer advocate. She might even be accused of caring about the customer more than the company she works for. But please, do not ask her who signs her check, because you will be disappointed with her response which will be that the customers do…and she’ll be right.
  • A great sales person is brave to the point of being heroic, especially when something goes wrong and the customer is irate a hell. This is when he earns his keep by heading right over there to talking to that customer at least giving her the pleasure and emotional release of having a real live and in color person in front of her to yell at and take out her frustrations on, before she and your heroic salesperson start putting together a solution to the problem.

Now let’s talk about some of the not so great traits of sales people, even the good ones.

  • They don’t like accountability. Because of this you must set up a good reporting structure. Including written reports and one-on-one meetings to make sure you keep them on the straight and narrow. This can be especially challenging with independent sales reps.
  • They hate forecasting, which is of course another form of accountability. They need to develop and be responsible for a good customer by customers month by month annual forecast. This is their only scoreboard, the only objective measure of their performance. Insists on a forecast from all of your sales people no matter how much screaming in protest they do.
  • Sales people tend to like to wing it. Even the good ones, the ones with all the confidence they need to be successful, will be so confident that they will convince themselves that they don’t need a plan. They don’t have to plan out that first sales meeting and they don’t have to plan the customer’s account strategy. Sorry, but they do and you should pressure them to have directional plans because winging it doesn’t work.
  • All sales people love to stay in the office and influence what’s going on in the shop. Oh, they will tell you that they would love to go out and visit customers but that they have to stay in the shop to make sure everything is going well with their accounts. They will be very convincing about this even pointing out examples of how they saved an account that could have been lost if they had not been there in the shop. Do not listen to them. They are sales people; their job is to be out in front of customers and your job is to make sure they do. Take away her office if you have to, take away his desk and chair if you must but get them out there in front of customers.

And finally, the single most important thing to look for when hiring a salesperson is integrity. Is she forthright? Is he honest? Are you convinced they will always take the high road and do the right thing? Will you be able to count on them to give you 150% all the time? If a person has all the traits of a great salesperson, but lacks integrity, do not hire him or her it will hurt you, and  really come back to haunt you in the end. It’s only common sense.