Written by Sean McPheat |
10 February, 2012
Sales people can find a plethora of tips and tricks on closing sales, and sales managers can easily locate information on how to find good sales people to work with. Yet, there is not a lot of information for the sales person on how to find a good company to work with. Here are a few tips to help you find that company that will pay off for you, as you pay off for them!
#1 – Caution!
Unfortunately, besides actors and models, sales people are the most mislead group of employment seekers in the world. The sad truth is that there are tons of unsavoury, slip-shod companies selling all kinds of unproven and substandard products and services. These companies prey on new and eager, yet unsuspecting sales people that possess little knowledge of the industry.
These companies often promise pie-in-sky, get-rich-quick schemes that have little or no basis in reality. So as a sales person, the first word is be careful and do not be too quick to believe everything you hear.
#2 – Believe in the Product or Service More Than the Money
The second step in choosing a company to work with is to choose a product or service that you can truly believe in. Only sell something that you would sell to a close loved one, should they be a qualified prospect for the product or service. You have to believe in what you sell and choose the company on that, rather than the potential income.
To choose a company primarily because of the money you think you can make will usually prove to be a serious mistake. See the product or service in your heart before you see the money in your pocket.
#3 – Research
Now, do a lot of research on the company and the entire industry. Not only check the company’s web site, check everything else including complaints against the company, industry laws and future, competition and longevity. Keep in mind that a lot of the information you get from the internet may be bogus, so consider the source of all the information.
#4 – The Numbers
Finally, if the company qualifies to the point where you get an interview, ask the sales management some of these questions where applicable:
a. How long has the average sales person worked with this firm?
b. How long has the longest, most senior sales person been here? No matter how you phrase it, find out about employee turnover. If sales people leave within a few months, there is a problem.
c. What sales support do the sales people receive? How much of their time are sales people able to commit to actual selling, and how much is non-income producing responsibilities?
d. How long is the average sales process from ‘hello’ to check in hand and commission paid?
e. How long is the sales interaction, presentation?
f. What is the closing average for the average sales person?
g. What is the amount of the average sale?
h. How much is the average commission?
i. What is the closing average for setting appointments? How many calls does it take to secure one solid appointment? How many contacts with DMs does it take to set one appointment?
The Essential Questions
Please note that if the management is not intimately familiar with such numbers as closing and other sales performance and activity statistics, consider that a serious red flag and be concerned. If they have to guess or give you hypothetical numbers, watch out. They should be able to give you real data based on actual performance.
With the above type questions, you can figure out what is true about the commission structure and potential income.
As an example, let us say the sales manager told you that you can easily earn £1,000 per week and that most sales people make at least that much. However, from your questions you found that:
1. It takes 20 calls to reach 10 DMs to set one appointment. You realise that at a reasonable 5 or 6 minutes per call, it is likely to take you two hours to set one good appointment. Therefore, in a full day, you can set 4 to 5 appointments.
2. You also find that, including travel, the average sales interaction takes 2 hours. Thus, you can perform maybe 3 or 4 per day.
3. Therefore, if you took 2 days a week and set 10 appointments, you can then run the 10 appointments the other 3 days of the week at 3 or 4 per day. So, you can run 10, and as many as 12 appointments per week.
4. The sales manager also informed you that the closing average is 20% or 1 out of 5 and the average sales commission is £200.
As you can see, the numbers do not add up to what the manager is telling you. If you ran 10 appointments and closed at a 20% rate, that’s only 2 sales at £200 each which is only £400 not £1,000. If you were somehow able to run 16 appointments a week and close at 25%, you still only close 4 sales and you would still come up short.
Of course, that is a generic example, but if you ask the right questions, you can figure out what is real and what is smoke-and-mirrors.
Use caution – don’t believe everything you hear.
Choose a company because you believe in what they sell.
Exercise real due diligence in researching the organisation.
Study the numbers.
Then go to work!