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