7 Pre-hire Tasks Manufacturers Looking for the Best Salespeople Should Complete

February 15, 2013

Manufacturers have a complicated sale whether they are selling direct or through a channel. It takes the best salespeople to be successful in this environment. It also requires the company to do their part.

Completing the seven pre-hire tasks below makes the hiring process more productive for you and your staff. They apply whether you’re hiring your first salesperson, expanding your sales force, or rebuilding it.

1. Have a sales process that works and is written out.

You need to be able to describe it and train someone to follow it. You don’t want a new hire to “do it their way”. It won’t be good for your business long term. Either only they can do it and so you can’t get sales consistency or all the good they’ve started will vanish when they leave. Lone wolves and hotshots leave sooner or are fired quicker.

2. Know what their main activity is going to be.

The salesperson you want to hire needs to know what you want them to focus on:

  • Bird Dog (finds opportunities)
  • Opener (follows up on opportunities)
  • Closer (gets the commitment, the contract signed, and maybe the first payment)
  • Retainer (hand off person for customer service, upselling, reselling, customer retention)
  • All of the above (pretty tough for any ordinary human being and unaffordable)

3. Have collateral that’s sales ready.

There’s nothing more frustrating to a salesperson than having no collateral materials or a website and collateral that are out of date. The word will get around and you may have fewer good people apply.

Have basic marketing tools ready. It gives them a place to start quickly. Also key: remove all outdated forms, pricing sheets, etc. New hires seem to have an uncanny knack for using and sending out the wrong information.

4. Use a job description that matches their main activity.

If you want them to sell, their job description should not include marketing tasks other than gathering information to give to marketing. Be sure to include a career path. The salesperson you want to hire wants to know how far they can go.

You also must get your existing sales staff’s job descriptions and duties in order before you hire. You may need to adjust their job descriptions and pay grades. The other option is to create a new job title or level for the new hire or for your existing staff.

5. Have a ramp up orientation process and packet ready.

It’s not enough to show them their desk and introduce them to other staff. Your orientation process should include a detailed plan. The plan spells out sales activities, goals, and the people responsible for helping them get that goal accomplished. It should cover at least the first two weeks and include monthly goals for the first quarter. It usually takes 90 days for someone to get up to speed and 6 months or more to repay the hiring investment.

Don’t expect them to remember names. Make sure your company information packet contains a current organizational or leadership chart.

They will also need a flowchart of what happens before and once the sale is made as well as whose responsible for the major tasks that would affect the customer. This should include the manufacturing division: production, installation and maintenance/support, and possibly research and development.

Check with staff members who are helping with the orientation to make sure there are no surprises due to their schedules or priorities. This will save time and tempers.

6. Put security in place.

Do what you need to in order to protect your customer list, pricing strategy, and key sales and competitive analysis information. You don’t want it to walk out the door with the new person. Make sure your staff is following security protocol and has not become sloppy. Trust is continuously earned and re-earned.

There’s also useful information on security issues related to employees in Amanda Finch’s post, “How the rise of SaaS, relates to Sox, SAS 70 and your legal contracts” (http://www.businessbankoftexas.com/how-the-rise-of-saas-relates-to-sox-sas-70-and-your-legal-contracts.htm)

7. Get your existing sales and marketing team ready.

If you’ve got good sales and marketing staff, ask them what would make it better, faster or easier to bring someone into the team. Ask your best staff to review your ramp up plan and job description for the sales position.

Topics: Featured, Management, Sales & Marketing, Content Type

Jan Triplett

Business Success Center

Jan Triplett, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Business Success Center (BSC), a City of Austin certified green business, that provides sales and financial growth strategies, planning, and implementation. She is also a professor in Business and Professional Skills for the online MBA program at Mary Baldwin University. Triplett is a national and international speaker, author of A Networker’s Guide to Success and co-author of Thinking Big, Staying Small and Easy to be Green. She published The Networker ” magazine for over ten years and moderated KUT radio’s nationally syndicated program, “The Next 200 Years”. She was co-creator of the award-winning “City Management Academy” and the “Owners MBA” and co-founded the Entrepreneurs’ Association Hatchery incubator and accelerator. She is a small business activist. She served as a White House Conference on Small Business and Congressional Summit delegate, served on the Mayor’s Task Force on International Infrastructure, initiated the Northcross IBIZ District and recommended portions of Austin’s Big Box Ordinance. She was a founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and the Greater Austin International Coalition. The SBA honored her as Texas’ Small Business Advocate. She has also earned her CBTAC and Director credentials. Her company received a Small Business Administration (SBA) five-star national award and the Austin Business Journal named it a top 20 management consulting firm.
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