2008 Summer Volume 8 No. 1

Who’s in Your Pit Crew?

While your portable sanitation drivers are racing through their routes, the real action of growing your business is taking place belly to belly with customers.

It's a well-known fact that building a successful portable sanitation business can't happen without success in sales. So how do you build a successful sales team?

First of all, don't make the mistake many new business owners make of hiring cousin Fred, or the first smiling person that walks in your door. They may be great salespeople, but before you hand them a contract, make them jump through all the hoops that confirm their potential to be great.

Here are some steps I would go through to find and hire a great salesperson. Since every big decision should start with a plan, first take out a sheet of paper and describe the type of person you are looking for.

A good salesperson should be:

  1. Experienced in sales or eager to be trained.
  2. Able to understand your customers' businesses (For example, have they worked on a construction site or been involved in event planning?)
  3. Tenacious. They are as persistent as a dog that won't let go of his favorite bone.
  4. Friendly. They seem to genuinely like getting to know new people and serving people's needs.
  5. Thick skinned. They are able to handle repeated rejection without taking it personally.
  6. Competitive. Getting new customers is how they keep score.
  7. Quick witted. They think on their feet and don't take long to answer questions.
  8. Well organized. They take notes, file business cards, and follow up in a timely manner.
  9. Honest. Remember, most people can sense a phony. While high-pressure sales tactics can work on a car lot, where customers make a large purchase and don't return for several years, the portable restroom business requires ongoing relationships of trust to succeed.

Great salespeople are hard to find, so searching for potential candidates is something owners and managers should do every day. Don't wait until a salesperson quits. Whenever you meet with a colleague, a friend, or a client, ask them about people who might make good salesperson for your company.

Once you have some candidates in mind and their resumes in hand, you're ready for the next step—a phone interview.

Much of sales work is not done face to face. It's done over the phone, cold-calling, setting appointments with prospects and following up. It doesn't make sense to interview someone in person before you talk to them on the phone; after all, phone-first is the manner in which they will meet your customers and prospects.

Set up the phone interview in advance and have individuals call you at a specified time. If they don't make the phone appointment on time, you can almost certainly rule them out.

You should prepare a list of questions that you are going to ask. During the phone interview, try to learn if your sales candidate speaks well, has a warmth and good presence on the phone, and can carry on a conversation. Also, create intentional disruptions or delays in your conversation to see how they handle it.

Consider having a score sheet to record your observations. Award a point for each area that is good, a point for fair, but nothing below that. Using a score sheet will take a lot of the guesswork out of the process.

Ask some tough questions in the phone interview to see how well they respond. Your assessment should be able to uncover weaknesses that are hidden and can't be picked up in the regular interview process. Some examples include:

  • the ability to discuss money,
  • the ability to recover after a feeling of rejection,
  • the ability to think on their feet.

If the phone interview goes well, interview the candidate in person.

At this point you should be able to concentrate on things such as eye contact, handshake, personality, bonding ability, and hopefully the candidate's ability to ask you questions. You shouldn't be doing all of the talking.

How much are you willing to pay for the right person? Have a figure in mind and remember good salespeople don't come cheap. They are assets. They will make you money, not cost you money. When you discuss money, be prepared to negotiate and see if they are equally prepared to negotiate. After all, negotiation is another important sales skill!

Finally, remember to call references and check the experience background listed on resumes. The latest statistics show that more than 60 percent of resumes have mistakes or incorrect information in them.

A good salesperson may be easier to find during an economic downturn like the one we are in now because salespeople, even good ones, are often the first to be laid off when a business is struggling. That may be good news for you because a good salesperson can also help rescue a business during bad times by finding new customers and bringing in extra business from current customers.

Industry Info

Click here for a listing of companies offering Trucks & Accessories, Decals, Financing, Restroom Trailers, Trade Publications, Marketing, Restroom Manufacturing/Sales, Billing/Routing Systems and Insurance.

PJ University

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