Build Your Own Business Blueprint
Hiring A Salesperson

Hiring A Salesperson

by Gary Goldman


Help wanted.
Familiarity with residential and commercial pavement maintenance required. Excellent compensation. Successful candidates must:
• be captivated by their work
• be patient and persevering and not discouraged by setbacks
• customarily compete against themselves, not others
• believe that no aspect of the remodeling process is beneath them
• be highly self-motivated, not driven by money for money’s sake
• and be able to tell a story.

  In pavement maintenance, you might expect a new salesperson to produce six figure dollars volume in the first year. Ultimately this salesperson could sell hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, depending on the structure of the company and the type of products and services offered.
Selling requires a process, device, method or means, combined with a will or desire. The successful candidate must bring the intention. We provide the mechanism in the form of systems of estimating, specification writing, sales and marketing.

  If you think you need a salesperson now, but have no systems in place to create the mechanism needed, think again. At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the exact mechanism that works for you will work for others.

  Start the hiring process by creating or updating the job description. Include duties, responsibilities, authority and relationships. Fix a starting date and determine what training you are prepared to give and how soon the new hire should be up to speed. Determine the salary and/or sales commission. Ultimately the compensation might range from 7 to 10 percent of sales. Search for candidates internally, as well as among current and past customers, suppliers, associates and competitors. Word of mouth can be a valuable recruitment method.

  Consider posting notices on Internet job boards and advertising in the local classifieds. Include your company name, a deadline for responses and how candidates should contact you. Requiring candidates to email or fax a handwritten one-page statement about his or her qualifications and why he or she is a good fit for the position provides both an idea of the candidates’ ability to express themselves and a handwriting sample.

  Quickly confirm receipt of each application and indicate that you will respond by a certain date. Give yourself time to review all applications. Illegible, incoherent or unconvincing replies or those that just don’t stir you should go on the bottom of the pile. Personally phone the top five applicants to confirm that they are still interested in the job, and arrange a time to talk. Be alert for professional traits, good or otherwise, during your contact.

  Note that in my help-wanted ad, I required the ability to tell a story. This is very important in the pavement business because we are selling something that doesn’t exist in its final form. A “test drive” is not possible.

  A good salesperson also will possess high levels of empathy, motivation, problem-solving capabilities, flexibility and the ability to plan a sequence of events logically and effectively. During the interview, ask questions designed to reveal whether they have those traits. Do more listening than talking. Have the candidates describe themselves in each of these eight areas:

• experience and management skills
• reason for leaving current job
• work habits
• salary expectations
• opinion about industry trends
• expectations for the future
• past achievements of note
• past failures
• personality or relationship skills or problems

  After making your hire, be sure to notify unsuccessful applicants quickly and courteously. While they might not be candidates for employment, they or those they influence might be candidates for your services in the future. Think of this as a marketing opportunity.

Gary Goldman is a leading consultant in the pavement maintenance industry and forum moderator at Contact Gary through his web site at or visit the business forum.