It amazes me that amidst a recession and 8%+ unemployment that small business owners have such difficulty finding quality team members. Because of that, at almost any good business they’re literally always hiring great employees. They can’t afford not to. It’s so hard to find productive, professional, reliable people that, when one comes along, you have to snatch them up before someone else does.
Granted it will be your responsibility as the business owner or Team Leader to convince them to join your team…
So even though businesses are generally always looking for great people, there is one position that is particularly difficult to fill… I’ve spoken with business owners all over North America in a handful of different industries including B2B, B2C, service-based, in-home, in-store and about everything else and there is one position that is far and away the hardest to fill…
Every small business owner has trouble finding high-quality, ethical Sales people.
In my personal experience I’ve seen sales positions advertised in markets with 200k+ people with no response whereas a market 1 hour away with a 20k+ population base will receive 2 dozen inquiries for an administrative assistant.
I’ve seen small business owners living in a market with a million people invest in national marketing campaigns and then try to convince someone to move to their area for the job because they can’t find someone locally for a $60k-$90k/year job.
I know of a business that has open sales positions every day of the year. They have opportunities up and down most of the east coast to fill positions where their top producers are making over $100k per year, set their own schedule, work out of their homes, have a base pay, and are home almost every evening to be with their families. Does that not sound like a great opportunity??? So why is it with 8.4% national unemployment they cannot find the right people???
As a matter of fact, if you live between Miami and Washington, D.C., have sales talent and strong character, and that career interests you, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with them.
Because it’s so hard to find quality sales people:
- Most small business owners are salesman themselves (out of necessity).
- In small businesses, the salesman is the highest paid position.
When I say, salesman, I’m also including sales women as in most organizations and industries, the top producers are female. Studies show that both women and men trust female sales people more than their male counterparts even in industries typically dominated by males such as automobile sales. If you have some sort of bias where you think your industry is “too technical” for female sales representatives, think again.
My formal education is in mechanical engineering so my predisposition is for math, science, and spreadsheets. However, my father made sure that I understood that no matter what I do in life, I need to learn how to sell. Whether that’s to sell my engineering idea, sell myself in a job interview, sell a product I invented, a business I’ve built, or a service I’m offering… No matter what you do in life, you need to learn basic sales and persuasive communication skills.
If you’re a small business owner, what do you do? Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure but I have tried and have witnessed a few solutions.
- Steal quality sales people from other businesses. You always have to keep your eyes open. When you see someone who’s good say, “You’ve done a really great job and have been very professional. My business is always looking for people with skills like yours. Do you have any friends who are as good as you who might be interested?” They’ll usually indicate they might be interested so give them your card and ask them to call or email you.
- Create your own sales people. I’m aware that the stereotypes are that people under 40 have no work ethic. Unfortunately, a lot of times that is true. However, not always. There are still plenty of younger individuals not making a lot of money who could easily be taught and groomed to be great salespeople even if they’ve never considered it before.
- Always be recruiting. Take advantage of free advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist to let people know you’re always recruiting.
- Promote from within. If you have someone in another position in your company who would be great at sales then stop having them do something else. No sales = no business so give it the priority, perks, and pay it deserves.
- Don’t call it “sales”. In reality, no one wants to be sold something so there are a lot of people who think negatively of sales people. Somehow they miss the fact that they wouldn’t have a job without sales people but that’s another discussion… If you don’t call the position a “sales” position you’ll have more interest. Call them an Expert, Specialist, Technician or something else. In many businesses, owners will tell me that a selling service technician is also their best sales person because people instantly trust them. Kind of like plumbers used to be before they started selling you a bunch of stuff you didn’t want and we all caught on.
- Set yourself apart. Every business owner hates paying sales people a base salary while every sales person hates being 100% commission. Setup a pay structure where your sales people have a base dependent upon a relatively easy quota. Unless they can be fully trained to close deals in less than a week, you’ll need to pay them some sort of base for training. The “old school” sales managers will tell you to only bring in people hungry enough to work for free for a while and fight their way through it… Sure, that can work. But that can also be a way to only get sales people who are desperate and, as I’ve pointed out in this blog, great sales people are never desperate.
In reality, I’ve seen these ideas both work well and fail. There is no “perfect” solution to finding great salespeople. You have to do as many as possible and on a consistent basis.
If you’re a great sales person looking for a job nearly anywhere in the lower 48 states, let me know. Chances are I’ll be able to put you in touch with someone in your area looking to hire even if they’re not advertising the opening.
To your sales and sales recruiting success, Bryan