Published on February 20, 2014
Recruiting Self-employed Sales Agents: Key Interview Questions & Etiquette By CommissionCrowd
Contents • How to narrow your search to ensure you’re talking to the right kinds of agents • Common etiquette that self-employed sales agents expect Presenting your company to freelance sales agents so they buy into not only what you do, but why you do it • Key interview questions that you are likely to be asked • Key interview questions that you should ask any potential agent • Guidance on how to assess if the agent would make a valuable, profitable partner to your business
What Is CommissionCrowd? CommissionCrowd is a revolutionary global platform for commissiononly sales agents and companies that enables you to connect, manage your working relationship, and work more efficiently together
Why It’s So Important To Narrow Your Search Being able to segment your search based upon specific criteria is critical • • • • • You want to ensure you end up working with the best possible sales agents You want to reach the most suitable agents quickly and ahead of your competitors You want long and very successful working relationships To reduce churn, save time, money and sanity Don’t be afraid of losing a potential sales agent if it turns out you are not suited to working together. Working together for the sake of working together can cost both the company and sales agent time, lost sales and potentially even reputation in the long run www.commissioncrowd.com
Self employed sales jobs Things to consider: Level of sales experience in relation to the type of product you sell and the length of the sales cycle • Is a newly self employed sales agent with a background in telesales going to be able to succeed selling a highly technical product with a long sales cycle to a C-Level Exec? Industry experience • Does the sales agent have prior experience within your particular industry? Will they ‘get’ what you do? Will they understand the types of people they will have to sell to? Type of sales style • Will a sales agent that has been trained in the ‘hard sell’ be able to sell a product that needs to be sold on a consultative basis? Territory • Can the sales agent work remotely and conduct most of their business over the phone/online? Or, will they need to live/work in a certain proximity to your company/clients? Remember: Receiving applications from prospective sales agents is exciting and a sales agent will usually be very good at selling themselves, but it is your time and company’s reputation at stake. Just like there are good and bad companies out there, don’t forget that the same applies to sales people.
Common Etiquette Not an interview in the traditional sense • The sales agent will want to interview you about your company just as much as you want to interview them • They are not and will never be your employee. They should be treated in the same way you would treat any other business owner • The interview should always be approached and conducted on equal terms • You should try and sell your company/opportunity just as much as they will try and sell themselves www.commissioncrowd.com
What’s Your Why? • • • • Money is merely a by-product of success You can’t sell a product/service you don’t believe in yourself You can’t sell effectively for a company who’s vision and goals you don’t share Therefore only companies and sales agents who share the same vision should agree to work together “If you are one of the folks who refused to install the PayPal app or if you can't remember your PayPal password, do yourself a favor, go find something that will connect with your heart and mind elsewhere.“ - David Marcus (PayPal CEO)
Independent sales rep jobs What’s Our Why? At CommissionCrowd we are driven by a passion to improve the commission-only sales industry. Therefore we have set out to build the best possible platform and tools to allow targeted, long term working relationships to become a reality for forward thinking companies and self-employed sales professionals. www.commissioncrowd.com
How Great Leaders Inspire Action The only video you will ever need to truly understand your ‘Why’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp0HIF3SfI4
Key interview questions that you are likely to be asked Do you provide training? • How many days or hours of formal training? • Is there a cost to me? • If so, how much? Who will be available to help me after the training? • Is that person easily and readily available to me? • What other "hats" does that person wear? Describe your customer retention? Customer Support? Deliverability Ratio? Do you have a mentor program where I can shadow a top producer for a period of time? Do you have any bonus programs such as; exceeding goals, recruiting other agents, etc.? What trade associations, business associations or other affiliations does your company have?
Key interview questions that you are likely to be asked Do all of your full time sales agents have a territory? What do I have to do to have a protected territory? Can you send me examples of marketing materials available to me? Do you have a company policy manual? Will I have a copy if I sign on with you? How many full time sales agents do you have?? • How many do you want? • How many part time agents? • What is the agent turnover rate? • What is the average tenure of agents? What was your gross volume of sales last year? What is the average income per year of full time agents? www.commissioncrowd.com
Key interview questions that you are likely to be asked About leads (if applicable): • When will I be given them? • After I am eligible, how many can I expect per quarter, assuming I prove I can do a good job with them? • What are the sources for leads? • Approximately how many leads do you give the agents per month? What is your market share, compared to the top 10 companies in this industry Do you have weekly sales meetings? • What day, time, and how long do the meetings usually last? • Could I attend a sales meeting before I make a final commitment to come on board? What are your business goals? • Do you have expansion, move of office, or growth in your immediate plans? What differentiates you from your competition? www.commissioncrowd.com
Key interview questions that you are likely to be asked House Accounts Most independent sales reps expect to work hard to earn their commissions and understand that developing new accounts often involves investing their time into a long sales cycle. And they generally will use sales commissions for accounts that came with the territory to help finance those long-term efforts. Commissions on existing sales usually don’t cover all the rep’s costs to develop new customers, but they do help the rep offset some of those costs until sales commissions on new accounts start. Keeping existing accounts as no-commission “house accounts” may get your new rep relationships off to a rocky start, and many reps will decline to accept a new line that has house accounts. Pioneering Lines Sales reps are in business to make a profit just like you are, so the results you can expect when you ask a rep to work “for free” probably will be disappointing. Reps who accept a “pioneering” line with no existing commissions can’t afford to take time away from manufacturers who are already paying them commission, so their efforts may be limited to “Oh, by the way, we also have ‘x’ if you need it.” If you need to hire a rep in a territory that has no existing sales, consider offering a monthly “territory development fee” or stipend to help with the costs of territory development in exchange for monthly reports on those pioneering efforts. -MANA
Key interview questions that you should ask any potential sales agent 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Are you incorporated, a partnership or a sole proprietorship? Can you outline your growth history for me? Do you develop an annual sales plan and budget? If yes, what are your plans for [current year]? What are your business goals for the next year, five years, ten years? Can you outline the geographical territory or market you cover? Will you be willing to sell outside your territory? If yes, how far outside? How active is management in the sales process? Can you give me a list of the manufacturers/companies you represent? Can you tell me why you feel their lines are compatible with ours? 9. Who are your major accounts and how do you cover these key accounts? 10.Have you segmented/classified your territory by accounts? If yes, can you outline how you went about this exercise? 11.How do you monitor sales performance? 12.Do you distribute your own catalogue? If yes, is it available in print, online or in both versions? 13.Are there any conditions/circumstances under which you would expect your principals to participate in the production/distribution costs of these mailings? 14.What is your policy regarding visits by principals or factory personnel? 15.Can you outline how your principals compensate you? 16.Have your other principals required you to sign an agency contract? If yes, what do those contracts cover? 17.Have you ever been involved in a dispute with any of your present or past principals? If yes, please elaborate. - CPSA
Key interview questions that you should ask any potential sales agent What image do you have of our company and this industry? -Should have done a thorough job of research or your industry and company What types of products/services have you sold and how did you sell them? - See if they understand how to sell "solutions" as opposed to "products" or "services" What kind of goals motivate you the best? What total compensation are you seeking? -Should be enthusiastic about setting goals -Should be comfortable with a large share of compensation at risk What were your goals for the past three years and did you meet them? What was the reason for your success? Why didn't you meet the goals? -Should have had concrete goals with metrics What was your most significant professional accomplishment? Tell me about it in detail. -Keep asking for more and more detail to get insight into work ethic 1. - CPSA
Key interview questions that you should ask any potential sales agent What is your sales process, given a qualified lead? How many contacts do you make on a qualified lead? -Look for logical steps including building a relationship and asking about the prospect's needs as the first two steps -Average number of contacts should be 12 -Ask for the different types of contacts they make to qualified prospects How do you overcome buyer objections? How do you handle price objections? -Ask for examples -Can they describe selling on value, not on price? How do you expect to close sales? How do you know when a buyer is ready to buy? What closing principles do you follow? What closing techniques work best for you? -Does the candidate mention of the importance of body language? Some answers to "what closing principles do you follow" include: -Do not attempt to close until the buyer is ready -When you propose a close, be silent until the buyer responds -After the sale is made, quit selling -Should be able to describe three different closing techniques
Key interview questions that you should ask any potential sales agent Tell me about a sales experience that demonstrates your work ethic. If they give a positive one, ask for a negative one. e.g. a time they failed and what they learned How do you generate leads? -Asking for referrals from current customers should be a large part of the answer - CPSA www.commissioncrowd.com
What does a top selling self-employed sales agent look like? There are 5 key traits shared by top sales reps: Reinvention – Top sales performers don’t stand still. They relentlessly seek to improve; never satisfied with the status quo. Unafraid to experiment with a new tactic. More worried about missing a new technique than suffering a failure. Best Practices – “A” players constantly monitor what peers are doing. They persistently expand on new ideas to get to the next level. Best practices are just a launch pad for more innovation. Technology – Top sales reps use technology as a force multiplier. They accelerate their pace with communication devices. They reach new prospects with social media. No moment is wasted in a connected world where support resources are a text away. Customers expect and receive instantaneous response. Rapid Adoption – Not satisfied with just learning new ideas, top reps deploy new concepts immediately. No pilot test, no resistance; just swift implementation and iteration. Mobility – The Bluetooth earpiece and the Wi-Fi hotspot turn the top performer's world into a virtual office. Video training modules are completed on a smartphone. Chat apps keep connections with the sales team. CRM reporting, appointments, call prep, and forecasting are all done on the fly. • Sales Benchmark Index
What does a top selling sales rep look like? • Top sales performers want to stay ahead of the pack. They are always looking for a competitive edge. Smartphones and CRM technology are examples from the recent past. It's time to find the next capability that provides an advantage. • Top sales performers want to be intellectually stimulated. They are naturally curious and have a thirst for knowledge. • Earning potential is key. Top sales performers continually seek to expand their influence. They value help in gaining access to more buyers and widening their circles. • Top sales performers are keenly aware of the competition. They value any insight that will increase their chances of winning. • Top performers are team players. They value support and contributions from the entire organization. • Fairness and realism are the keys. Top sales performers will perform superhuman feats if they believe their efforts will be rewarded. • Everyone wants to sell a hot product. Top performers go where the action is. • Today's buyer completes more than half of the buying process before the sales rep is engaged. Top sales reps recognize that strong support from Marketing is the key.
Contact Us Laura McGregor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0131 618 2300 Ryan Mattock Email: email@example.com Alistair Robinson Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.commissioncrowd.com “Make it so today is not like yesterday, and tomorrow will be different forever” - Anthony Robbins
13 Jan 2014 Webinar: Recruiting Self-employed Sales Agents: Key Interview Questions & Etiquette
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