Keeping Sales at Full Strength - Successful companies look for full-time, year round staff

Keeping Sales at Full Strength

Successful companies look for full-time, year round staff

There’s no question about the importance of skilled salespeople to any successful security dealer. Without a rep that can get in the door or establish a rapport with a potential customer over the phone, there are no sales. No sale, of course, means no revenue. That’s why it’s important to recruit, identify and retain quality sales reps.

“Recruiting must be ongoing and consistent,” said Chris Soda, manager of dealer development for Monitronics. “Whatever your goals are, they’re typically based on a certain number of sales reps selling a certain number of accounts. So it’s not only necessary to bring on more reps to grow, but also to bring on new reps just to maintain what you have.”

Soda said that successful companies look at recruiting as a full-time, yearround endeavor; provided that their staffing levels and company size allow. For example, Monitronics encourages the dealers in its network to recruit aggressively, scheduling large groups of candidates whenever possible. The process of weeding out unsuitable candidates should begin immediately.

“Typically when you recruit for door-to-door, if you bring in a group of 20 people, you’ll likely get anywhere from two to five good candidates and one to three productive reps,” he said. “Our most successful dealers are constantly recruiting new sales reps. They understand that staff levels can change quickly, so it’s important to keep new people coming in.”

As soon as a company falls short of sales reps, things can quickly turn sour.

“If you lose a couple of guys who are doing three or four sales a week, you’ve just lost six to eight deals a week,” said Bruce Mungiguerra, vice president operations for Monitronics. “It adds up pretty quickly, and you’ll lose 30 sales a month because you weren’t actively recruiting to replace those people.”

Energy and Desire

It’s not just about quantity, Mungiguerra said. It’s also important to look for the right type of candidate. Energy and desire can often outweigh industry experience.

“I see a lot of the more successful companies recruiting every week for new talent, but they don’t recruit anybody who has sold alarms in the past,” he said. “They look for younger, talented individuals in their early to late 20’s who don’t mind hustling. They can train them relatively quickly, send them out the door, and by the end of the week, they’ll know who’s going to stick.”

It takes commitment and a lot of effort, he added, “but you’re getting fresh people and training them the way you want them to be trained. It takes more work, but the benefit is greater.”

Of course, some companies find it easier to recruit established reps from competitors, using the lure of higher commissions. “That has been a trend over the years,” Mungiguerra said, “but it isn’t always a successful strategy.”

“Some dealers will bring in successful reps from other companies, pay them a little more, and think they have a ready-trained sales guy,” he said. “But they’re usually going to be less productive. Since they’re making more money per sale, they might not sell as much. They also come over with bad habits and may not be doing things the right way.”

Best Practices

There are a number of things dealers can do to facilitate the recruiting process:

  • Start with the tried and true methods of advertising, such as Craigslist and Career Builder. Support from a good dealer network can help; for example, Monitronics has negotiated a discount with Career Builder for its dealers.
  • Make sure the ads look professional. Use attractive keywords that emphasize training, stability, incentives, income and the chance for a long-term career. Make sure grammar and spelling are correct as well; the ad is a reflection of your company.
  • Don’t forget about networking. Encourage your employees to keep an eye out for potential talent, and think about offering incentives. Their friends and relatives can also be an untapped source of new reps.
  • Career fairs and internships through local colleges are also a valuable avenue. Being a sales rep is a great first job, teaching valuable skills as well as offering an attractive paycheck.

“I think dealers underutilize college students,” Mungiguerra said. “A lot of kids have to work because they have to support themselves. Even if you can get a college student to work a couple of days a week for a few hours, and they make one or two sales a week, it’s more than they’re going to make at any job that pays $10 or $12 an hour.”

Importance of Retention

Aggressive recruiting is also important because of constant turnover. Naturally, not all reps are worth keeping, whether it’s because they’re not dependable or just simply not good at sales. Some will leave for a different kind of sales position, Soda said, while others simply burn out on sales altogether.

While turnover is the nature of the industry, many dealers attempt to keep their best people for as long as possible. Helping young, hungry reps achieve early success is a big factor, Soda said, since they’ll be more likely to stay than reps you recruit from other companies.

“Retaining reps starts with how you recruit,” he said. “If you hire inexperienced reps but train them properly and show them success, they will be a lot more likely to stay than recruiting experienced reps from other companies. An experienced rep that left their last company to work for you may leave you to work for another company later.”

Apart from that, he added, the best way to retain is to pay fairly, accurately and on time. “Nothing is more discouraging to a rep than getting a small paycheck,” Soda said. “If the reason it’s small is because they didn’t sell enough or gave too much away, you can encourage them to go out and turn it around the following week. If it’s small due to a payroll error or they feel they are being shorted, it will be tough to keep them motivated.”

Other effective methods including praise, awards, competition or incentives such as Monitronics offers to its network of dealers. Most recently, Monitronics had a sales competition in which top prize was a pair of tickets to the college football championship game.

It’s important to keep negativity out of the equation. “Successful reps will usually stay,” Soda said, “but if reps are successful but the environment is not fun or positive, they may not enjoy it for long. Selling is hard work, and there is adrenaline and excitement in it. A positive environment goes a long way toward keeping your reps motivated.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Security Today.

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