Author Topic: Calling all Sales People  (Read 3068 times)

Stachetastic

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Calling all Sales People
« on: July 10, 2017, 01:05:36 PM »
My husband was laid off from the public sector and spent 2 years job hunting while working in construction. He finally landed a position as a director for a very small non profit. He enjoys the work, but he puts in crazy hours and his salary is 39k with no benefits. He has applied for a few jobs here and there, but nothing has panned out. I really think he would be good at sales, but I admittedly don't know a whole lot about this field. He is definitely open to it. He has a very outgoing personality, has no problem approaching people, asking people for favors, etc. He has never met a stranger. We cannot leave our house without running into people he knows, including when we leave the state. He enjoys a job that has him out and about, rather than stuck behind a desk. But sales is pretty high-pressure, no? We really don't know what to expect in that arena. What are employers looking for in this field?

*This topic came up because we have an acquaintance who works in material sales for a large roofing company and appears to do well and enjoy his work. My husband mentioned he thinks he would like this, and has a working knowledge of these types of products. (But no sales experience.)

Uturn

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 02:09:06 PM »
I do pre and post technical sales support.   Basically, the salesfolks generate the interest, then call me in to talk about the technical specifics and do the design work with the client engineers.  Often, I will do the implementation of the solutions. 

I work with many salespeople throughout the company and see many different sales styles.  Some of them complain that the job is hard, others rejoice about how the job just does itself.  The former find it very stressful.  If your husband is the type who easily steers a conversation where he wants it, he should do fine.   One of the salesmen that I make calls with is masterful at that.  He can start out by asking how was your weekend, and within minutes we are talking about products/solutions and no one feels manipulated. 

The number one difference that I see is the attitude towards the customer.  "What can I do for you" will always out perform "what can I sell you?"

ixtap

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 04:15:16 PM »
It depends.

Uturn describes company sales, which probably has at least a base salary, maybe supplemented with commissions (my father had a role that combines both what Uturn describes as sales and his own job, so my father was the front man and the designer, no commissions).

Sales can be stressful if you are dependent entirely on the commission, like cars, homes and boats, because your pay check is determined 100% by whether or not you make a sale. This works great in a down turn for those of us who are in sales as a side hustle, as all the income dependent folks move on to something else.

In my experience, the real stress of sales commission are the other sales people who are stressing themselves out. All sense of decency and fair play goes out the window. I have always known that my colleague kind of resents me showing (and often selling) his listings, but the other day he said he was trying not to show my listings. What? No! We are supposed to be working together, for the sake of our clients. Sell the d@mn listing, even if it cuts my commission in half!! Even though he is in a base salary position, my brother in law has a similar issue with one employee who keeps "forgetting" to forward calls to other sales people when he should.

Stachetastic

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 05:19:53 AM »
Thanks for your replies. I think he would be looking for something with a base salary plus commissions, so we could at least budget a bit. Do you have any suggestions for getting into the field, for someone who has little experience in sales? He did work for a very small retail establishment that his parents owned for years, but that's the extent.

jbfishing

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 09:08:54 AM »
Since he is currently at a nonrofit has he considered fundraising?  The personaliy traits you describe can also work for fundraising.  The succesful fundraisers i know think it is easy and love their jobs.  Some stress about goals but also continually exceed their goals.  Many people think asking for money might be scary or hard but if you're asking the right people, your donor base, supporters, and constituents, they want to  see your organization succeed and want to give you money.  When you meet with a donor they know why you are there and if they don't want to give they won't agree to meet in the first place.  I lnow fundraisers at small (5-10 employees) nonprofits that make $50-70,000 and at a universiy foundation that make up to about $120,000, in relatively small communities.

tthree

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 09:23:08 AM »
Both DH and BIL work sales, but in different fields.  Here it is not hard to break into sales, it is harder to stay in sales.  They are looking for people constantly. Since DH started 11 years ago they have probably had 100+ different salesmen in their 5 person team. DH jokes he now only learns their names once they have made six months.

Other things to consider:
Compensation. You mentioned sales plus commission.  Make sure this is the case.  DH gets a base but once he makes $1 more it's commission only, not base plus commission.

Days off.  DH never gets two days off in a row, his two days off pretty week are split.  If he has clients on his week day off he goes in.  This happens 95%  of the time.   Last week our eight year old said, "Dad I hope you get fired so you can spend some more time with me this summer."

Hours.  Completely unregulated. No overtime.

Vacation/sick leave.   No sick pay.  Vacation pay is still a mystery.  He does get vacation time but they give him a hard time whenever he takes it.  Almost not worth the hassle.

General mood.  Like your DH, mine is also a people person, but working sales takes all the people person out of him.   When he gets home he is usually miserable after being nice to strangers all day and we get the short end.

Consider yourself warned!

Fishindude

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 09:45:56 AM »
Did sales for my own company for many years and have hired and fired quite a few sales people.

Having a good personality and being able to talk to people is a start, but you also need some pretty significant product knowledge of what you are selling and the "killer instinct" to ask for the order (repeatedly if necessary) and close the deal.

Made the mistake on several occasions of hiring real nice people, well liked in their communities (the kind that never met a stranger) to prospect and make sales calls.  They spent lots of time out making sales calls, dropping off literature, talking to people, etc. but rarely got to the real decision makers or got us much opportunity to quote real projects.  They were pretty content to live off their base salaries.

My best sales people have been those that grew up in the business, had hands on experience with the product but also had pretty good "people person" personalities.  They also have to truly need and desire more money, so they aggressively try to earn commission.

 
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 07:25:28 AM by Fishindude »

okits

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 02:11:30 PM »
tthree names some good pitfalls to be aware of.  A look at pay structures might help your DH identify what kind of environment and reward system he would like most:

http://www.businessinsider.com/death-to-the-salesman-by-draw-against-commission-7-pay-packages-explained-2011-4

Stachetastic

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 06:22:53 PM »
Since he is currently at a nonrofit has he considered fundraising?  The personaliy traits you describe can also work for fundraising.  The succesful fundraisers i know think it is easy and love their jobs.  Some stress about goals but also continually exceed their goals.  Many people think asking for money might be scary or hard but if you're asking the right people, your donor base, supporters, and constituents, they want to  see your organization succeed and want to give you money.  When you meet with a donor they know why you are there and if they don't want to give they won't agree to meet in the first place.  I lnow fundraisers at small (5-10 employees) nonprofits that make $50-70,000 and at a universiy foundation that make up to about $120,000, in relatively small communities.

He has considered fundraising, but all the job postings we've seen lately want credentials, like CFRE and experience with Raiser's Edge, which he does not have.

Both DH and BIL work sales, but in different fields.  Here it is not hard to break into sales, it is harder to stay in sales.  They are looking for people constantly. Since DH started 11 years ago they have probably had 100+ different salesmen in their 5 person team. DH jokes he now only learns their names once they have made six months.

Other things to consider:
Compensation. You mentioned sales plus commission.  Make sure this is the case.  DH gets a base but once he makes $1 more it's commission only, not base plus commission.

Days off.  DH never gets two days off in a row, his two days off pretty week are split.  If he has clients on his week day off he goes in.  This happens 95%  of the time.   Last week our eight year old said, "Dad I hope you get fired so you can spend some more time with me this summer."

Hours.  Completely unregulated. No overtime.

Vacation/sick leave.   No sick pay.  Vacation pay is still a mystery.  He does get vacation time but they give him a hard time whenever he takes it.  Almost not worth the hassle.

General mood.  Like your DH, mine is also a people person, but working sales takes all the people person out of him.   When he gets home he is usually miserable after being nice to strangers all day and we get the short end.

Consider yourself warned!

This is exactly what I'm afraid of!

tthree names some good pitfalls to be aware of.  A look at pay structures might help your DH identify what kind of environment and reward system he would like most:

http://www.businessinsider.com/death-to-the-salesman-by-draw-against-commission-7-pay-packages-explained-2011-4


Wow, I had no idea there were so many pay structures! Thanks for this!

Axecleaver

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Re: Calling all Sales People
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 06:54:16 PM »
I do sales for my consulting business, and have worked in sales doing $300-500m public sector contracts in the past. There is a particular approach to your sales sector which takes practice and work. You must understand the product at a very detailed level. There is a methodical process to learn and apply. All of this is really simple, but it takes some dedication and commitment.

I think one of the first questions to ask is how your husband deals with failure. Because sales is all about dealing with rejection and failure. It's tough failing over and over, but to be successful in sales you need to get to a place where "no" doesn't bother you. You play the odds, knowing that a string of No doesn't mean anything. It can be tough to process rejection, especially for people who have grown accustomed to success. It can also be highly addictive work that you enjoy when it goes well.

A few books to read on sales.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. A classic must-read, good life lessons in addition to basic sales psychology.
Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar. He's an old-school sexist pig who talks about himself too much, which always grated on me, but he also articulates some of the essential elements of how to sell. Essential foundational learning.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni. What I love about Lencioni's work is that he writes everything as a fable. It's really easy to identify with and understand the lessons he's teaching in this way. You absorb the lesson before you really understand the message, which is how humans have taught each other for thousands of years.