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What NOT To Look For

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The United States has had a “job crisis” for several years, with millions of ready, willing and possibly-able workers frustrated and disappointed in their quest to find gainful employment.

The stagnant-at-best job market is due in large part to big, slow-moving corporations. Many small businesses, unfortunately, have also been laying off workers for the past few years in some misguided attempt to save themselves to prosperity, or because they’ve decided to settle for survival instead of go for success, or because they just don’t use the right strategies to grow their business during this downturn.

But small business owners who have remained aggressive and taken enough of the right steps to combat this challenging economy have been and will continue to hire. As with almost everything else these days, it is certainly a buyer’s market.

One of my private clients who started working with me fairly recently has been experiencing record growth in his business. After several years of declining sales and profits, he is on now on track to have his best year ever.

Several very simple, basic lead generation systems and other systems we’ve developed to position him as a go-to expert in his field are bringing him far more high-quality leads than his current sales staff can handle.

All of this is thanks to the combination of him doing excellent marketing while his competitors bury their heads in the sand and operate out of fear due to the challenging economy and anti-small business actions taken by our current government.

So, he’s now a few weeks into the process of hiring about a half-dozen salespeople (he can ramp up his marketing any time he wants in order to produce more than enough leads to keep additional salespeople extremely busy). He’ll also be bringing on board a sales manager, so he can continue to concentrate on the most important function of any business: marketing.

Our recent consulting call naturally centered around the system we’ve put into place for this hiring binge – ads, interview scripts, sales training, commission schedules, etc.

That’s when I saved him from making one of the biggest – and most common – mistakes business owners make when hiring salespeople: He was dead set on looking to hire people with solid, steady track records of employment at one – or maybe two – companies over the past decade or so, and certainly with experience in his particular industry.
OOPS!

That is exactly how to hire average performers, and NOT superstars.

Superstar salespeople, like top-performing entrepreneurs, do not sit in one place for long. We get out into the real world and experience all kinds of different situations, people and places. That helps us to be able to relate to a wide variety of people, to think on our feet and to be adept at coming up with mutually-beneficial solutions to the inevitable problems that arise in any selling situation.

So while it may feel like the safe and proper thing to do (and it’s certainly what big, slow-moving companies love to do), small business owners must resist the temptation to hire salespeople who don’t have a wide range of experience in a multitude of situations, selling different things to different people for different companies in different places.

For example…

I have personally sold to consumers and businesses, products and services, low-priced items and high-ticket intangibles, face-to-face, over-the-phone and online. I’ve sold goods and services that were the best of their kind, and others of much lower quality that were sold mainly on price and volume. I’ve sold for startups and mature corporations. I’ve sold within long sales cycles, and I’ve sold impulse items. I’ve sold by making multiple appointments and with thorough follow-through, and I’ve sold on the spot, door-to-door and nose-to-nose in living rooms and at kitchen tables. I’ve sold in large group presentations and I’ve sold one-on-one. I’ve sold while on salary, and I’ve sold when not making a sale meant not eating that day.

And I’ve set records – personally, and for teams I’ve hired, trained and led – in every conceivable situation.
I’m not saying any of this to brag; just to ask one question:

Now tell me: Would you rather hire me to sell or be a sales manager for you (*Note: I’m not available, but other superstars most certainly are during this tough economy), or settle for some safe, average performer who’s only sold one thing for one company for the past 15 years?

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