A Radical Change
Investing in well-trained, experienced employees
- By Lindsay Lougée
- Sep 01, 2016
About a year ago when Curtis Kindred of American Defense
Systems (ADS) decided to reorganize his sales team and shake
up his company, industry watchers were skeptical. Hiring a
host of sales reps that were young, coachable and eager to make
a buck was what had always been done, and what many swore by. Kindred
decided to take a different approach, focusing on the family men, careerists,
and those looking for long-term benefits.
As president of ADS, Kindred always had a lofty vision for his company.
By turning away from the traditional “eat what you kill” model to invest in
well-trained, experienced employees instead of contractors, he hoped to
incentivize reps to stay for the long haul.
“We were trying to figure out ways to retain sales people,” Kindred said.
“So we thought we would try paying a little more up front and get more on
the back end by having the person stay with us longer than a 1099 might
stay on board.”
It worked. ADS is one of Monitronics’ top Authorized Dealers, bringing
in both quantity and quality accounts.
CHANGING THE APPROACH
The company had traditionally used a contractor-based, large-group approach
with generalized interviews that typically yielded one or two quality
sales reps. Beginning last July, Kindred began a one-on-one interview approach
to more closely screen candidates.
“We felt like we were chasing our tail with reps coming on and leaving,”
Kindred said. “Now we’re looking for established sales professionals who
are also quality people. This way, our retention is higher with a higher quality
ADS started the concept on a test basis in its home territory, and the
practice has now become company-wide and highly successful.
ENHANCING THE OFFERING
The package includes a base salary that increases based on sales, along with
different levels of commission based on upsell production. Also offered are
medical, dental and vision insurance after 60 days, with paid holidays and
vacation time based on longevity. Reps are also required to make two sales
a week to stay on with the company.
Benefits have been a large selling factor when attracting quality candidates
to ADS over other competitors, explained Kindred. In the past, many
candidates would like everything about the company but have to pass on
the job due to the lack of benefits. Now, he offers a complete package that
attracts the highest caliber salespeople.
In addition, by adopting this employee structure, sales reps don’t have
to worry about withheld taxes or the complicated processes that often go
along with them. The company takes on a higher expense by matching a
percentage on the benefits and paying into payroll taxes, but Kindred contests
that it has slowed the revolving door to reps. This saves them a great
deal on their bottom line.
Kindred said their goal is to not have to babysit employees, but also to
help them find the right fit for a long-term career. ADS spends time nurturing
employees, training them and teaching sales tactics. By offering a
well-rounded opportunity, employees feel respected, and act like it’s a more
professional job, rather than just a stopping point on the way to the job they
LESSONS FROM THE YEAR
Throughout the transition, Kindred said his biggest challenge has been
finding people that want to be accountable. But, by weeding out those that
don’t up front, ADS ends up saving time, money and effort in the long run.
“Our approach attracts people that are clean-cut, put-together and
that know how to sell,” Kindred said. “Now we can take those people and
teach them about alarm systems to complement the sales training they’ve
When asked for his advice to other dealers thinking about making a
change, Kindred urged them to go for it. “Make sure you are profitable, and
pick a path and stick with it. Don’t waver back and forth and accomplish
nothing. If you want to be big, be prepared to take risks, and don’t try to
do it by yourself.”
A year later, Kindred’s success is the proof in the pudding.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Security Today.