How To Hire Roofing Sales People

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I promised to write an article about Hiring Sales People some time ago…

I’ve been hesitant to share my insight because my goal here has always been to help the sales people out in the field who want to learn how to make more money selling roofs.

Hiring isn’t important to most of the sales people who read these articles, but it is vitally important to ever-expanding number of roofing company owners and sales managers that do.

If hiring sales people is important to you, keep reading because I’m about to spill the beans.

I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail, but I’ve already decided it is more important for me to be completely open and transparent with my readers.

Start Your Own Company

Truth of the matter is, if you’re any good at roofing sales, you’ll eventually start thinking about starting your own roofing company. You’re probably even thinking about it now, aren’t you?

I would tell you to stop thinking about it, but I know that won’t do any good. You won’t get it out of your head until the day you actually do it.

1 or 2 of you will be fairly successful when you strike out on your own. A few will be able to stay afloat, but only during hail storms. The rest of you will cry yourself to sleep at night because of all the debt, liability and responsibility.

You’ll fall asleep and dream about the good old days when you were just a sales person.

You guys know me… I’m not just saying that.

It’s the truth.

Either way, Good Luck!

Seriously, when you decide the time is finally right to jump out on your own, I want to wish you the very best, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Okay?

Wasted Business Cards

My mentor got me into the roofing business back in May of 1995 after the Mayfest storm – at the time, it was the largest hail storm in U.S. history.

I was 1 of 50 sales people he hired in the first few months after the storm. Every week there were a few new guys in the office, but most of them didn’t make it longer than a week or two.

He had a big “Now Hiring” ad in the newspaper. There were several guys that came to work because somebody convinced them they could “Get Rich Quick!” You would see them at a sales meeting or two and then they would vaporize. Gone. Without a Trace.

There were stacks of business cards from the printer delivered to the office for guys who didn’t even last long enough to pass out a single card.

What Are The Odds?

By October of 1995, five short months later, there were less than 10 names on the sales board. Unfortunately, only a few names had any sales from week to week. Maybe 4-5 guys would have sales on the board.

I’m not a math genius, but when you go from 50 sales people down to 5, that’s only 10% that actually made money selling roofs.

Through the years, it has been my experience that most roofing companies lose 90% of the people they hire beyond their original core group.

If a roofing company goes into a storm with 3 solid sales people and add 10 new sales people, they’ll only have a total of 4… or maybe 5 sales people after a few months in to the storm.

Of those 5 sales people, 1 of them will sell 60% to 80% of all the deals.

The top sales person will make most of the money and likely get most of the hot leads. The next best sales person will sell 20% to 30% of all the deals. The last 2-3 will sell a few deals to fill in the holes.

Opportunity Cost

I skipped a lot of class in college, but I vaguely remember the phrase “Opportunity Cost” from Economics.

To be sure of the meaning, I looked up the definition on Wikipedia. “Opportunity Cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the best alternative foregone.”

In other words, you could have been a Doctor like your Momma wanted, but instead you decided to start a roofing company. How much did that decision cost you?

Actually, with the rising costs of liability insurance for doctors, if you’re any good at roofing, you could make more than a lot of physicians.

Here’s where “Opportunity Cost” comes into play when hiring sales people…

If 9 out of 10 sales people you hire won’t be with you in a few months, the “Opportunity Cost” of spending your time, money and energy training the wrong person could cost you your entire business.

The Winning Profile

I’m not saying that you need to hire people with all these traits for them to be successful. I’ve known a few good sales people that would be offended if I described them this way.

I’m also not going to guarantee that if you find somebody who fits the profile I’m about to give you to a “T” that you’ll have a winner.

Even if you find an exact match, that’s still no guarantee of success. These are guidelines not guarantees.

#1 They Need The Money… Yesterday

Without exception, every good roofing sales person I’ve ever known got into the business because they thought they needed the money in a hurry.

That’s an important distinction… how do they perceive their position?

They may be doing better than you financially, but if they THINK they urgently need the money, that’s really important.

Money is motivation. Some people have it. Some people don’t.

MONEY MAKING TIP: If they don’t need the money, don’t waste your time.

#2 People Like Them

People tell me all the time, they can sell roofs because they “Like People”. Doesn’t matter!

The real question is, “Do people like you?”

Always, always, always interview the people you’re about to spend your time, money and effort investing in. Take them out for lunch if the interview goes well. During lunch, watch and listen to how they interact with you and the people around them.

Do you like them?

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being “I REALLY LIKE THEM”, how much do you like them? If it is anything less than a STRONG 8, thank them for their time and move on. Otherwise, you’ll remember my words and wish you would have cut your losses back at the restaurant.

#3 They Ask Good Questions

I know, I know… “Good” is a subjective term, but I think you’re smart enough to know what I mean by asking good questions. If they spend the whole interview asking, “Tell me one more time, how much money can I make selling roofs?”, move on quickly.

It is normal to ask a few times, but they should be moving on to harder questions pretty quick in the interview.

If they ask you about insurance claims, door knocking techniques, and your training process, you’ve got some possibility there.

#4 They Are Younger or Older

This rule is really based on #1 above because it all goes back to needing money.

I’ve known a lot of good sales people who were a few years out of college (or their parent’s home) who became excellent sales people.

They’ve lived long enough to acquire some bills and figure out that they need to make real money. By this time in their life, things haven’t turned out how they expected and they’re ready to make some money.

Folks in the prime of their life tend to make safer career choices because they still have time to make the change. You can still find good sales people here, but it is less likely.

On the other hand, I’ve also known several great sales people who were a little later in life. They’ve been up before and things didn’t work out. Maybe they were laid off or recently divorced. Whatever the case, they need the money because things haven’t worked out and they have bills to pay.

#5 My Best Hiring Tip

Let’s review The Winning Profile one more time before we cover my best hiring tip…

  • They Need The Money… Yesterday!
  • People Like Them.
  • They Ask Good Questions.
  • They Are Younger… or Older.

Ask yourself right now, “what kind of people fit this profile?”

Here’s my best hiring tip… waiters.

Waiters work for cash. They need the money. If they don’t have a good day waiting tables, they’ll go home broke.

Waiters have to make people like them to make money. They are skilled in the art of liking.

Waiters ask good questions. Sweet tea or unsweetened, do you want your sauce on the side, you want your salad before the meal? They ask good questions so they can figure out what’s most important as quickly as possible.

Waiters tend to be younger.

Last Word

If you’ve had success hiring good roofing sales people, I want you to share your experience in the comments section below. As always, if you have any questions, please let me know. Your question might just be the subject of my next article.

Peace,
Mike

Facebook Comments

23 Comments

  • Michael

    Reply Reply September 4, 2013

    Excellent advice Mike, I really got a lot out of this article. What brought me to this posting was my need to find ways to generate leads, but the only surefire way that I have came up with is to knock, knock, knock. Is this true?

    I am also in the process of posting job listings on Craigslist and Get Roofing Jobs. I’m going to give it a shot, but I agree with you about Craigslist, I myself have been scammed on that site more times than I can count.

  • Nadia

    Reply Reply July 19, 2013

    Thats great! thank you.

    We are willing to train 100%

    I have posted an ad for those without experience as well. I was just hoping there was another outlet by which I can find those who are familiar to the industry.

  • Nadia

    Reply Reply July 19, 2013

    Mike,

    Your article is awesome. Your captivating to read. I cam across your article because I am on the hunt to hire some salesmen for my bosses company. unfortunately im not ready for my own company yet. Though the thought has certainly crossed my mind many times.

    Do you have any ideas or helpful tips on where to actually find these salesman looking for jobs? i have posted to Craigslist but im not too familiar with any other popular places to throw up a job ad.

    I once heard there was a website for roofing, where there are experienced reps looking for jobs in specific cities.

    I am in one of the toughest markets in Dallas TX, so the competition is vast. However I know there are many unhappy salesman wanting to switch companies.

    Any Advice?

    Thanks,
    Nadia

    • Mike

      Reply Reply July 19, 2013

      Nadia,

      Be careful of hiring unhappy salesman working for other companies because there’s a good chance they’ll come to your company and be unhappy too.

      If you’re going to advertise for a roofing salesman, as opposed to training them yourself, you may want to check out getroofingjobs.com because they’ll publish your job listing on their site, distribute it throughout their social media channels, and then also syndicate it out to some of the more popular job boards.

      Hope that helps.

      Mike

  • stormerleads

    Reply Reply November 5, 2012

    one way to sell more roofs is to get quality leads. contact us today for our november specials.

    dwilliamson@stormerleads.com

    • mike

      Reply Reply November 8, 2012

      I did email stormerleads.com and ask for more information on their program. However, I have not used them and I do not know anybody who has used them. They may be great or they could be terrible.

      If you have used stormerleads.com, feel free to leave your personal observations here in the comments section.

      If stormerleads.com would like to tell more about their program, feel free to leave your comments below too.

      Mike

  • TROY

    Reply Reply August 19, 2012

    Thanks Mike for all your posts. Very educational and now hooked on this site. Being a year into the industry, what are your thoughts on working Sundays after 12 noon. Saturdays are good but does Sunday door knockers put a bad taste in their mouth???

    • mike

      Reply Reply August 19, 2012

      Personally, I seldom prospect on Sunday and encourage my guys to take the day off. They usually put in a 1/2 or 3/4 day on Saturday anyway, but that doesn’t mean I won’t meet a prospect on Sunday afternoon if that’s the day they want to meet. I’m not opposed to reactive selling on Sunday, just proactive, but that’s for personal reasons. I think your health, your family, and your spirit need you to break once a week.

      However, I know you’re not really asking about me personally. So, my thoughts on proactive working Sunday are the same as any other day… prospect whenever you can see the people. You might have to change up your approach on Sunday to something more casual and relaxed, but there are plenty of people home on Sunday afternoon.

      Prospecting is Interrupting. Doesn’t matter if it is Tuesday night or Sunday afternoon, we’re interrupting… professionally, of course, but that just makes us Professional Interrupters.

      That begs the question, “When is the best time to interrupt somebody?” I think the answer to that question is “whenever they’re most open to doing what you want.”

      Since I’ve never chosen to Professionally Interrupt on Sunday, I don’t know if it is a good idea or not.

      The only way to find out is to go out and professionally interrupt people and find out. I’m guessing that you’ll run across people who will be very open, relaxed and interested in what you have to say and then you’ll find others who think you’re rude (probably, the same people who would think you’re rude on Monday too).

      The more I type, the more interested I am to find out.

      If you’re going to try it, would you let me know how it goes?

      Mike

  • Tony

    Reply Reply April 15, 2012

    Mike, one of your best articles on here, no doubt. Thank you for posting it.

  • James

    Reply Reply March 11, 2012

    Mike,

    I appreciate your article and it makes sense, however, you have not touched on exactly what you think is the best method of finding salesman.

    This is something I have struggled with especially when there is a ton of other companies advertising on craigslist with crazy commissions scales.

    I just want to find the right individuals who want to work for a honest restoration company that actually does provide some resources, builds fast, and pays fast.

    Also, what are your thoughts on hiring out of state guys in the short term when in a heavy storm situation?

    • mike

      Reply Reply March 11, 2012

      Hi James,

      I appreciate your insightful questions…

      There are two kinds of roofing salespeople for you to potentially hire.

      #1 Experienced
      #2 Inexperienced

      It sounds to me like you’re more interested in #1, is that right?

      • James

        March 11, 2012

        Mike,
        Yes. We need at least somewhat experienced people in order to immediately capitalize on the recent storm damage. I am more than willing to train the right individuals but time is of the essence.

      • mike

        March 11, 2012

        Okay, I understand what you’re saying James…

        I’ve always trained guys with little to no roofing sales experience from the ground-up. Sure, it is harder, but there’s less problems in the long run when you find and train guys the right way. They appreciate learning how to make money selling roofs and you know exactly what kind of person is working for you.

        The article you read was more in line with finding the right kind of guys to train. As you know, training takes a lot of time. In my experience, 90% of the new guys will never make $1. By working with waiters, you can cut those negative percentages way down, but you’re still up against the clock.

        That’s why a lot of the bigger regional roofing companies are only offering 40% of profit with higher overhead costs for new hires. As an owner or manager, you’re either going to spend your time making money or training other guys to make money. It has to be worth your time, right?

        When you’re in a fresh hail storm, you don’t exactly want to spend all your time training. I totally understand wanting to attract experienced sales people.

        Trust is a big deal in this business. Homeowners have to trust you. Roofers have to trust you. Salespeople have to trust you… and you have to trust all of them.

        Trust is valuable to you and to them. It is worth everything in this business. So, you shouldn’t sell yourself short here.

        So, let’s talk about your perceived problem with finding experienced sales people to hire…

        First of all, Craigslist is just a small slice of the internet pie. Only 3.6% of all internet searches are performed on Craigslist. Don’t get it in your mind that every experienced roofing salesman on the planet is scouring those listings for their next sales job… because they just aren’t!

        Besides, any sales person worth their salt is more than a little concerned about the credibility of these job postings. They know that the scammers, fly-by-night and financially iffy roofing companies often troll internet job postings looking for young, naive sales people to use and abuse. A sales person may fall for these too-good-to-be-true ads once, but I guarantee they’ll never do it again because we both know there’s no way those companies can keep those outrageous promises without ripping somebody off along the way.

        I’m not saying there aren’t some legit roofing companies posting ads online, but they’re posting right along with all the snakes and scammers too. There’s a reason that Craigslist has a reputation for less than credible offerings. That shouldn’t keep you from posting there, but you should be extra careful with whoever responds to your ad.

        Remember, trust/credibility is the #1 problem in the roofing business. If you have it, you have something valuable. Don’t sell yourself short.

        This sounds so obvious, but if you look for experienced sales people in the gutter, you’re going to find experienced sales people who hang out in the gutters.

        If you’re going to look for experienced roofing salespeople with an online ad, you want to project the most credible, trustworthy image of your company as possible. State your commission rate up-front, list their expected job responsibilities and what they can expect from your roofing company in return. You can find good people, but you have to weed out all the bad prospects by projecting your integrity in the words of your ad.

        Honestly, you’ll turn off all the roofing sales people looking to turn a fast buck… and are willing to do ANYTHING to get it. They’ll go work for your competitors. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

        Once you have your ad written, place it in your local newspaper too. The local paper naturally has more trust/credibility. Your job posting will get picked up by job sites nationwide and syndicated to their live feeds too. Another good place to post your roofing job listing is http://www.getroofingjobs.com/

        Building jobs fast and paying fast are very important. They project financial integrity. Good salespeople want to work for a company that can do this. Good salespeople want to be protected from chargebacks due to crappy workmanship too.

        Furthermore, the good salespeople coming in from out of town don’t want to invest the best days of a fresh hail storm working for somebody they’re not sure will pay them when the checks come in. They have to trust you James. To attract these guys, you have to show that you are trustworthy. You do that by telling the whole story up-front.

        Most solid storm chaser sales guys would rather have you look them in the eye and know for absolutely sure they’ll make 40-50% of the deal than to hear they’ll make some crazy percentage and not know for absolutely sure that they’ll ever see a dime of the money. Guys like this usually don’t take a job out of town without a STRONG referral from somebody they know and trust.

        With all that said, I still would encourage you to find guys with potential and train them yourself. Sure, you’re going to lose time on a fresh hail storm, but at least you know exactly what you’ve got. When they do get up and running, they’ll be able to make a good living for themselves and you’ll be able to trust them with your company name. Find the right people, teach them the business from the ground up. When they’re ready, give them the opportunity to make even more money by bringing in guys themselves to train.

        Imagine how much time it will cost you to follow-up on a shady salesperson that sold your customer the moon, have stolen the first or last check, or have put you in a position of liability because they wanted to get a handful of draws and get out of town. Don’t think it doesn’t happen because it does… all the time.

        There’s nothing worse than getting a call from a customer asking you when you’re going to put their roof on and you’ve never even heard of them before. You have no paperwork, but they have a cancelled check that your sales person cashed right before they left town.

        Be very careful what you wish for James.

        You might just get it.

        Best of Luck,
        Mike

      • Angel

        May 1, 2013

        Mike, great fan of everything you write! You are an asset.

        Question: I am a roofing salesman in Naples, FL and my company makes me pay for the fuel that I use. On top of that they made us sign non-compete agreements. Are these standard practices or should I be looking for a different place to work?

      • Mike

        May 1, 2013

        Hey Angel,

        To answer your questions quickly, it is standard practice for you to pay for your own fuel in residential roofing sales. Some companies will offer bonus and incentives for production, but usually you pay out of your own pocket.

        As far as a non-compete agreement, that is difficult to enforce in a right-to-work state. I don’t give legal advice and you should consult with an attorney for a definitive answer, but you’ve got to make a living.

        Finally, everything is negotiable. If you are selling quite a bit, you’ll have more leverage. Ask for a gas card when you hit certain production levels. All they can do is say, “no”.

        Best of luck and thanks for writing me.

        Peace,
        Mike

  • James Parrish

    Reply Reply January 17, 2012

    Suggestion for all experienced roof sales people- change careers and get rewarded for every roof you inspect. That is- Become an adjuster. You get paid for every roof you measure, regardless.

  • kevin

    Reply Reply December 16, 2011

    the best sales people do it because they love to close deals. the money is secondary. average salesmen are the money motivated ones. they typically smoke and are the guys that want people to like them and they will lie to get a sale.the best are interested in the customers needs and are there to fill them. great salesmen have a proven track record. the only question that needs to be asked is the percentages of split. an experienced salesman knows how to check out the company. patience is a key quality in the best. also knowing when to be quick and to the point with the wealthy. all people are different and the best know how to adapt. the money hungry salesmen in my experience can not be trusted.
    i base this on over 30 yrs of experience in the roofing and construction industry.

    • mike

      Reply Reply December 16, 2011

      Kevin, you said so much when you stated, “patience is a key quality”.

      Thank you for bringing your experience to the article. I appreciate you jumping in with solid advice.

      Mike

  • Kerry

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    If your great at sales you should be creating enough leads knocking to keep you busy for ever.

    I have found sale people who cry about leads are lazy and cannot sale much less close leads. So maybe, just maybe the owner of your company is on to something.

    • mike

      Reply Reply September 13, 2011

      Wow, Kerry goes right to the heart of the matter.

  • blake

    Reply Reply September 13, 2011

    The owner of *** is top cheap to get leads and wants us to just cold call. Im a great sales guy. So now all the presure is all on me to sell,sell,sell. Somebody please say something about this,

    (edited)

    • mike

      Reply Reply September 13, 2011

      Blake,

      If you need leads to sell roofs and you aren’t getting any from your current company, the only thing I would know to do would be to change companies.

      There are several roofing companies that will give you leads… you usually end up paying for them one way or another in lower commissions, higher overhead charges or lost referrals.

      I’ve always preferred to knock doors and develop my own territory. A good lead every now and then is okay, but you end up running all over town and never getting the full benefit of “taking over” a neighborhood.

      I’ve posted your comment. Maybe some of the other folks will have something to say too.

      Best of luck,
      Mike

  • Einar | Sales techniques

    Reply Reply September 1, 2011

    Excellent post Mike.

    Especially point number 2: “#2 People Like Them”.

    People buy from people they like, and if you and your other employees like them, chances are other will too.

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