Most every startup has one big thing in common, their first salesperson is one of the owners.
Even if you don’t enjoy sales, you have to really get into the sales process for your business.
You need to understand:
1. What customers are your potential customers looking for
2. What opportunities are available in your market
3. What are typical objections you hear
4. What is the perception of your market / competition
You will also need these skills:
1. Basic sales and closing
2. Have a strong understanding of your customers and their needs
3. Being able to predict if a potential sale will close
4. You have a clear sales process: This is how you quote, this is how you collect payment, this is how you deliver, this is how to finalize a sale, etc.
This is the first step to hiring a salesperson. You need to know how to train the salesperson for your business. This doesn’t mean you have to be a master of negotiation and closing, but you do have to know your business and your market
Step 2 – Find your critical mass
Once you have a firm grasp on your market and are bringing in revenue on a regular basis, you need to start considering when is the time to hire a salesperson.
Is it a particular financial goal? – Having X $ in profits to invest in a salespersons salary
Is it a particular time goal? – Once I cannot run the business well at X many hours a week
Here are some litmus test questions to ask yourself and see if you are ready:
1. Do you have a solid pitch / demo for your products?
2. Is the owner/founder working over 60 hours a week?
3. Is your product worthy? (Would more than 1/2 your customers say they would be very disappointed if they couldn’t buy from you anymore?)
4. Can you afford a base salary to hire someone really good? ($2000-$3000 and pay them that without return for 90 days) – if you cannot we have some other thoughts later.
If the answer is yes… then you are ready.
Step 3 – Prepare
Here is a list of everything you must have before you hire someone:
– Sales orders and quoting documents / procedures
– Sales process – steps from initial quote to final delivery, in clear written order
– Client profile – who is your customer, how will they reach them
– leads or cold calls? – do they find all the business, or are you getting enough inbound calls/emails to justify only inbound sales
– Compensation plan – what % of the sale will they get as a commission? can range from 3-30% depending on how tough sales are to get and profit margins
– Quota – what number do they have to sell by what date? Min $1k in 30 days, Min 5 k in 60 days, Min $10k per month by 120 days
– Sales tools – business cards, brochures, sales quotes, CRM, samples
– pricing structure – this can go with comp plan… Min pricing (below this is no commission), Retail/Book pricing (what you wish every sale would go for)
Step 4 – Make the move
How are you going to find the right person?
The first step is to try to find someone you know or is highly recommended by a trusted person. You significantly increase your chances if you hire someone with experience that you know you can trust. Talk to business associates, friends, etc. Try to get a referral.
Even after you get referrals, you should still interview. So if you decide to post to a job board or get referrals or both, so the following:
Step 1: Resume review – Ask for a resume to see their history and profile
Step 2: Phone Screening – Set up a 5-10 minute phone call (if you don’t like them in 10 minutes… pass) – this is also a time to sell your company, get them excited to want to join.
Step 3: In person interview – Set a meeting. Get a feel for who they are, tell them about you, ask how they could be successful and why you should pick them
Step 4: Get references – Personal and Business…. and call them. This is your first salesperson you want to be 100%
Step 5: Background check – Find a company that does a paid background check and ask for their consent to do so. (these companies probably have something you can provide in writing)
Step 6: Make an offer – Be very clear about everything. Hours, pay, compensation, goals, time off, etc. Have them sign an offer letter.
You can also consider hiring a staffing firm to help do all of this for you. It won’t be cheap, but it might help.
After you hire a salesperson you should have 2 goals:
1. Get reports, data & info from them every day. Stay on them and see what their results are…. don’t forget about them!
2. Prepare for your second salesperson – Competition is huge in sales, it also gives you a back up (if you lose one, you have another). This will help you ramp up much faster
Good luck and get out there with your first salesperson!
Welcome to the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, your best source for information, news, tips and tricks to get you off the ground running, and earn success with your custom apparel decorating business. So, get ready to soak up some knowledge!
Now, here are your hosts, Mark and Marc!
Mark S: Hey everyone, and welcome to another videotaped episode of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast! My name is Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And this is Marc Vila, from Colman and Company. Today, we’re going to talk about four steps to hiring your first salesperson.
This was an episode I wasn’t crazy about the idea of writing it, and writing the notes on it. But once I got into it, it is probably one of the most exciting ones! I’m really stoked to talk about this.
Mark S: It’s useful, right?
Marc V: It’s really useful.
Mark S: And speaking of you, I want to encourage everybody to sign up for our YouTube channel. The CAS podcasts, we record some of our podcasts on video, and we post them up on YouTube. Then, we share that YouTube channel with our parent companies, which are Colman and Company and ColDesi.
It’s called the ColDesi Colman, is the name of the YouTube channel. You may not know this, but if you’re listening to this on the website, or if you’re in your car listening, we do a lot of things that will make you want to see the video.
Marc Vila does close-up magic sometimes, while he’s talking. It’s great!
Marc V: Yeah. Fun times, sometimes.
Mark S: I occasionally do costume changes.
Marc V: Mark makes lots of comments on beard progression.
Mark S: It’s true. And if none of that turns out to be true, we still got you to subscribe to the YouTube channel, and you’ll get notified, whenever we do actually remember to [inaudible 00:02:01].
Marc V: Yeah, or I do the magic tricks. Actually, I don’t do magic tricks. Joe -.
Mark S: Joe Smalley, our Sales Manager, does magic tricks.
Marc V: He does legit good magic tricks.
Mark S: They’re good. But you know the rule. You should never ask someone to do a magic trick.
Marc V: He will do one.
Mark S: Speaking of sales.
Marc V: Speaking of magic, hiring a salesperson.
Mark S: We get this question a lot. I think it’s a very timely topic on the Custom Apparel Startups Facebook group. We are talking to customers all of the time on the phone, and they’re asking for advice on hiring salespeople.
Both Marc Vila and I have a lot of experience in the apparel business, in sales and sales management. You’ve hired tons of people. I’ve fired tons of people.
Marc V: Oh, my gosh!
Mark S: So, we’ve got some good experience to draw from. The first thing I want to do, before we get into the four steps, is I kind of want to set up your state of mind, right now.
Marc V: Okay.
Mark S: There are two times when people usually post on the groups, or they ask us about hiring salespeople. One is they’re so busy, they can’t keep up, and they need to have someone help with sales. Wonderful!
The second is that they’re not selling anything, and they’re desperate, and they really need someone to sell for them, because they’re terrible at it, or they’ve discovered that they really hate it so much, they just won’t do it.
Marc V: Both of those are problems that need to be resolved, and they’re actually not by hiring a salesperson, which is interesting. What do you have to say about that? I know you have thoughts.
Mark S: I just want to say that if you are in a financially poor position, you have a going concern in the custom t-shirt business or you’re just starting out, then hiring a salesperson when you don’t have money in the bank, and you don’t have any track record of sales, is a recipe for failure.
I’ve done it at least twice, in my own small businesses. What you end up with is this kind of feedback loop, because you never think the salesperson is doing enough, because they didn’t come back with big orders the first day.
So, you end up grudgingly paying them, and they can tell. You’re not successful, they’re not successful, and everybody hates it. So, don’t do it.
Marc V: Yeah. And you’re probably not – you’re definitely not in the mindset to be able to manage a salesperson. You’ve got to be somewhat of a salesperson, to be able to manage a salesperson, because you’ve got to know how they think, what to do, how to track them, how to follow what they’re doing.
You need to understand these principles. So, we’re starting this off where you’re financially not in a position to even consider hiring somebody. And we can get into commission only and salaries and all of that, in a minute.
But if you’re not in a financial position with your business, to grow, the best thing you can do is to go back and listen to more of our episodes. Go online.
Mark S: How to Sell More Next Month.
Marc V: How to Sell More Next Month is great. Get online, look up some sales articles. There’s tons of motivational speakers out there. Listen to them.
Every morning, wake up and listen to a sales motivational speaker every day. You can get yourself into that mindset, because you can do it. You don’t have to be somebody who is pushy.
That almost doesn’t exist. That’s a stereotype that rarely exists. Most salespeople nowadays, when even going to buy a car, all of these stereotypical things, most salespeople that you run into, “Yeah. Is this what you want? Is this what you’re looking for? Let me show you this.”
Mark S: They’re consultants, really.
Marc V: It’s very consultative.
Mark S: Unless you live in the tri-state area right now. Then, forget everything Marc Vila just said!
Marc V: That’s the one. Then, the other one you said is you’re so busy, so you should have done it earlier.
Mark S: That’s true. If you’re already in the weeds, when you bring on a salesperson, and we’re going to talk about this as well, you have to interact. They need to be managed. Right?
Marc V: Yes.
Mark S: Even if you can find a 100% commission salesperson, they still need to be managed. They need to learn about your business. They need you to talk to them about customers, about the situations they find themselves in.
You need to be ready to take a phone call from the field. If they’re out talking to a big customer, they may have questions. They may want to check on dates.
You have to be available, and in a state of mind to focus on developing a salesperson, to help you make money.
Marc V: Yeah. And you’ve got to be in a position, also, to produce the orders in a timely fashion. Because what happens also is, when you’re in the weeds, you’re not just in the weeds in sales. You’re in the weeds in production and booking and banking, everywhere.
You’re in the weeds everywhere, especially as a small business owner who wears five or six or seven hats. So, you’re in the weeds everywhere.
Sometimes the easiest solution on getting out of the weeds is not on a high level thing like “Let me find a salesperson to help me sell.” It’s on a lower level thing like “Let me get somebody to fold and box stuff up. Let me get somebody to deliver orders.”
These are all things you can outsource easily, hire easily. It’s inexpensive. Things like that can help you get out of the weeds, rather than trying to start at the top, like “I need to hire a COO.”
Mark S: There’s a lot of things in between those places. Hiring a salesperson can be a great move, but just keep in mind when you do, also, they’re not out there trying to sell two shirts to one person. They’re whale hunting. They’re looking for a two dozen, a 200, a 2,000 shirt order. That’s their goal.
So, you have to be ready for that on your end. But let’s talk about the steps.
Marc V: Let’s talk about the steps. Step one is a little bit of what we just spoke about. It’s that you’re the first one. The biggest thing that all startups, across the board, if you read stories about the history of great startup companies and things like that, oftentimes it has to do with one of the founders or one of the owners, or the original owner, they were the first salesperson.
Mark S: Somebody does sales, somebody does operations.
Marc V: Yeah. Or the owner did everything. The owner invented the idea, created the product, made it and sold it. So typically, what you’ll have in common with them is you’ve got to be that first salesperson. It helps you do all of the things we mentioned earlier.
I listed some things here, that I wrote down: For one, even if you don’t enjoy sales or don’t think you’re a salesperson, or it’s not your favorite thing to do, you’ve got to learn it, as just a part of education to really know how to be successful in your business.
Mark S: You know what? Before we move on, I want to mention – we did a podcast, and it’s one of my favorite books, called The E-Myth.
Marc V: Oh, yeah!
Mark S: One of the big ideas in The E-Myth was, even as a one-person business, is that you write a job description for all of the different things that you do. If you go through that process, and one of those is sales, if you do it yourself, then you’ll have a good jump start on everything we’re talking about.
Marc V: I forgot about that episode. It was a pretty good one.
Mark S: So, get the book.
Marc V: If you need to understand this, as a salesperson, I wrote down a few things here that I think are key.
You’ve got to understand, what are your customers looking for? Who are your customers? What are they looking for? If you’re selling local, what’s your city or town like? What are they looking for? What’s the style there? How are they getting custom apparel now? What don’t they like about it?
You have to understand your market. Being your initial salesperson helps to understand all of the wants and needs and desires of your customers, because they’re going to tell you.
Mark S: The fancy marketing way of talking about that is, what’s your demographic? Is there a particular group that you’re selling to? Are you in a niche market?
If you’re selling to motorcycle clubs primarily, do you want to hire somebody specifically to help you with that business, or do you want them to go off on another tangent, to help expand your business, too?
Marc V: And it will help you choose the right salesperson, because you can choose a personality type that will fit in and fit well with your demographic. A macho type of guy might not mesh as well, if you’re selling to a lot of cheer competition type of folks. You might be better off going with somebody who is maybe in that community already.
Mark S: Right. A moonlighting first grade teacher is probably not the one that you want calling on the local cycle clubs. It’s an assumption, but you really have to kind of think about your market, just like what Marc Vila said. What’s you’re market? What does your customer look like? What kind of stuff do they buy?
Marc V: Are you baiting me for more biker bar examples?
Mark S: No! I already regret bringing that up!
Marc V: You did it! They’re brewing.
What are typical objections you are going to hear, is one. I skipped one, but I will go back after. What are typical objections you’re going to hear? Are people objecting about price? Are people objecting about delivery times? Are they objecting about the type of clothing you’re about to offer them, the kind of apparel that it is?
Why are people saying no? What aren’t they wanting to do?
Mark S: That’s a good sentence. Why are people saying no? If people are saying no, then you have to help the salesperson understand why they might be doing that. “No, it’s too expensive.” “No, you don’t have the right blanks that you’re offering.” “No, you don’t do caps.”
So, as part of a sales training, you can help them overcome those objections, and get you more business.
Marc V: It’s also about, when you’re in the beginning in this startup phase, you also need to adapt a bit of what you do. You have an embroidery machine, and you decide you’re going to do golf-style shirts, and you’re going to sell them to local businesses.
You’ve found the perfect shirt. Only you like it. No one else likes it. So, it’s not the perfect shirt. It’s the perfect shirt for you, but not for your customer base.
You will learn these things. They’re saying no, because they didn’t like the apparel. So, you change the apparel.
It’s not just about how you’re going to change your salesperson, which is a huge part of training them, but it’s also about learning and adapting, and getting the niche right for your business.
Mark S: Right. And what is the perception of your market, and the competition in the area? We’ll put much of these notes in the show notes. So, if you can’t quite follow along, that’s okay. You can get it later.
But the perception of your business in the marketplace, versus your competition, is a huge thing to communicate to a salesperson, as well.
If you’ll notice, we’re already doing a lot of planning, getting ready to hire a salesperson, because you don’t just hire them and say “Here’s a stack of my business cards. Go do it.” So, this kind of what’s the perception, that goes to how you approach the marketplace.
Is your main USP, your selling proposition, is it “I’m the fastest in the area?” Is it “I have the best service in the area?” Is it “I have the lowest prices, or the newest equipment? I’m the only one who does these two things?”
Those things are also very important to communicate to your salesperson, because if you don’t give them something, then they may make something up.
Marc V: That’s true.
Mark S: Or they may find a reason to emphasize something that you don’t want.
Marc V: Also, again about going on from the startup perspective of it, as you’re starting your business, you have an initial idea of “This is how I’m going to approach the market. This is how they’re going to perceive me and my company.”
As you begin to start to do sales, you realize that you might need to shift some of that. So, it’s part preparing for the future of a salesperson, part adapting your business to what it’s going to be, because it’s a constantly evolving, changing thing.
In the beginning, you have an idea. A lot of startup people will tell you “When I started this business, I was going to do this. A year later, I’m doing this completely different thing.”
This will help you along that journey, to get to that sweet spot where you’re profitable, you’ve got business, and you’re getting yourself to a position where you can hire a salesperson, and like you’re mentioning, have the skills to back them up.
Mark S: I have to warn you in advance, I don’t know how long this episode is going to be, because all of a sudden, I have a lot to say.
Marc V: We’re good, so far.
Mark S: The other thing when you’re doing this, is to don’t just think about a salesperson as someone that’s going to sell stuff for you, because – I’m sure Marc will agree – salespeople are largely what make a company.
Our sales staff at ColDesi and the sales reps at Colman and Company, they’re the ones that talk to you, when you call in. They meet you. They are the face of the company.
If you have good salespeople, then they will help you grow your business, which has been the case for both of our divisions. If you don’t, and if you treat them like they’re not important, then they won’t be, and they can hurt your business.
Marc V: They’re your brand advocate. You really want salespeople who are going to buy into your company, and really want to be a part of it, because that is going to help your company grow, especially when it’s your first one.
So, step one, you’re the first salesperson. I just want to bullet point here, just some basic skills. I put down four things that you need to know. And I don’t think you should move to step two, until you know these four things.
Basic sales and closing skills; just the basic skills to be able to quote somebody and ask for the money, and get the money.
Mark S: Yeah. Ask for the money.
Marc V: Just ask for the money. It doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. Closing is often the most fearsome part of the sale, but you just quote somebody, and then you say “Is this good for you? I’d love to get your business.”
Mark S: “I’m ready to take the order right now.”
Marc V: “I might want to think about it.” At that point in time is where you learn the skills of the close. You say “Okay, what are you considering? Are there more questions you have?” “I just need to review it with my business partner.”
“Okay. When are you going to do that, do you think? Monday? Alright. Can I call you Monday, to follow up? Shoot you an email, whatever it might be?”
Mark S: “I’d really like to get this in my production schedule, so if I could give you a call on Monday, and find out if we’re going forward or not, that would be great.”
Marc V: Yeah. Just be very nice about it, and that’s it. Learn some basics. You’ll get better. That’s the thing. This is a skill that, first you’ll stumble, and then you’ll get better.
Second bullet point; have a strong understanding of your customers and their needs. It goes up to what we said before. You really need to know what your customers want. What do they ask for? What are they complaining about, doing business with other companies?
You have to know the core of your customers, and the only way to do that is to get a bunch of them, to have a list of customers, to know.
Next bullet point; be able to predict a potential sale will close. This is a tricky one.
Mark S: I’m smiling big right now, on video. You should see the look on my face.
Marc V: I love this one, because what it is, is once you start to sell for a while, then when you talk to somebody and you hand them that quote or you give them a verbal quote, you will get the intuition of “This one’s going somewhere,” or “This one’s not.” It’s just the way that it goes.
What it has to do with is their body language. It’s them giving cues to you. “How quick can I get it? Can I write you a check?” You’re listening for cues.
Also, the opposite of that – people who are standoffish. You begin to hear the same excuses. “Alright, when I hear that excuse, that means they’re probably not buying.”
Mark S: But there’s a very real reason, and a great reason why you want to get good at this, and you want to coach or work with salespeople that are good at this, as well, is because they’re helping you plan your business. This is the best business planning.
You sales predictions for what’s going to happen next month and the month after, the next 90 days, can make you money, because you can bring in inventory, if you see a good deal. You can scale up production staff. You can make sure that you’ve got all of the ink that you need, all of the vinyl that you need, in advance of these orders, to a certain extent.
That’s so important, to keep your business running smoothly, to map your growth. And also, it will end up being a good judge of your salesperson’s skills. If you develop a talent for it, then you can spot that in somebody else.
Marc V: So true. I love that statement that you made there. Also, you’re going to not waste time chasing the opportunities that are probably never going to come to fruition. Then, you want to pass that along to your salespeople.
“Listen, I’ve talked to this company before. It’s probably not going anywhere. Quote them, but -.”
Mark S: “I found out their brother-in-law just opened up an embroidery business.”
Marc V: Yeah. You’re going to learn these skills.
The last one is you need to have a sales process. This isn’t a complicated thing. You give a quote this way.
Mark S: On paper or email.
Marc V: You confirm that the quote was received on paper, or you email it, or you do it online. This is how you collect payments. These are the payment methods you’ll take.
After the payment happens, this is the process of how you’re going to deliver the finished product. Do you take a deposit? Is it 50%? Do you only do 100% up front?
All of these things. You have a process. How do you deliver? How do you finalize the sale? What do you do after the sale? Do you send thank you cards? Do you follow up with them?
Mark S: These are really important factors, especially actually with experienced salespeople, because they will try to do things their way. People don’t get into the sales business, and they don’t become sales professionals, because they’re very good at paperwork. Okay? Or that’s the way they tend.
Most salespeople, they do it as a practiced skill, not as a natural talent. That’s my observation. So, if you don’t make a salesperson give you a quote or a signed order, then they definitely will not. And that could cause you problems.
Marc V: You don’t have to master all of these things, but you need to understand them all, before you can move to the next step. Because if you don’t understand them to a degree – unless of course, the salesperson is part of your foundership. Then, it’s great.
You might be the top person in the business, and it might be all of your money. But one of the people in the founding group, who you’ve partnered with, is in charge of that, great! Good for you. But that’s not always the case.
Mark S: I just had a thought, there. Ten successful screen printers are out there, who are going “No, that’s crazy. I just hired a guy I met, and he did great.” Congratulations! Because that does happen.
You could find somebody, and they could just end up being a great asset, and a great part of your business. But if you approach it in an organized way, like we are now, you’re much more likely to have ongoing and regular success.
Marc V: I’ve interviewed, worked with, and worked as a manager of so many salespeople. Exceptions are great, and it’s awesome.
Mark S: it does happen.
Marc V: You meet somebody, boom! They’re hired. They’re with you for three years, and they’re the best salesperson. That definitely exists. We don’t want to discount any of that.
Just like you’re going to get big customers almost by accident like that, sometimes. You’re just going to walk in to dinner one day, and your server is going to say “Oh, yeah! My dad owns this company.”
Mark S: “He needs a million shirts!”
Marc V: It’s going to happen one day, but we’re trying to set you up in a situation where you’re going to force this to happen. You’re going to create habits, to actually make it happen, and not wait for the luck, not wait for you just happen to have the right person available.
Mark S: I think I’ve built the defensive fire break.
Marc V: Okay, good.
Mark S: We can move on to step two.
Marc V: You’ve got to find your critical mass. You’ve got to find the point where you’re beyond a startup, and if you don’t hire a salesperson at this point in time, things are going to crash, one way or another.
That doesn’t mean you’re going to go out of business, but it means you’re going to get to one of those positions where you really wish you had done it a while ago. What do you think, here? You wrote a couple of things down.
Mark S: I think you’ve got some good points. You have to be in a place where you’re in growth mode, or you can see it in the near future, and you have a financial goal in mind. What is the goal this year, for your business? Where do you see the possibilities?
“I think that I can sell $10,000 a month worth of shirts, $120,000 in revenue. I think I need a salesperson.” Do that math a little bit.
What is a salesperson going to need to make? How many shirts will they have to sell, to pay their own commissions and salaries out of the profits, get you to your $10,000 a month goal, and still have money left over for you personally, to make it worth it?
Marc V: In the podcast, the Profit First, it’s got to fit into that tree. It has to be profitable, you have to be able to pay them, it has to be worth doing business. There’s no point in hiring a salesperson, if it’s not making money.
Mark S: And actual money left over.
Marc V: Yeah. Money left over. That’s yours. So, you need to have a financial goal. The financial goal also could be something you build up to. So, “I am going to be my own salesperson, until I’m reaching about $10,000 every month.” Or the founders are going to be the salespeople, however that works out.
“Once I get to $10,000 a month in sales, now I’m going to go ahead and hire a salesperson.” Why? Because I can have money to put aside.
Mark S: To pay them for a while.
Marc V: Yeah, all of that. The second goal is actually a time-based goal. This is, are you working so much, you have so many hats on, that you are physically unable to grow the business anymore? You don’t have enough energy to create, to do anything else.
Mark S: It’s a classic E-Myth situation. You’re full, so you take all of your job descriptions for your various roles, and you lay them all out, and you decide that the salesperson hat is the first one. Whereas the next one in line, that you need to take off of your plate, because it’s going to be profitable.
It’s also going to allow you to focus on these other personal resumes, on yourself, that you still have [inaudible 00:25:11].
Marc V: That you might be better at. You might be great with the finances and the bookkeeping. Sales is not your strong point. Learn the sales. Put yourself in a financial position where you’re going to be able to hire a salesperson, and then move on from that.
Mark S: Also, if you have big dreams, if you want to be a million-dollar company in three years. Let’s say you’re doing okay now, you’re at $10,000 a month. You want to be a million-dollar company. There’s no physical way you’re going to get there without salespeople of some kind.
So, this is part of your strategy. If your goal is that big, then you’ve got to work backwards. If you want to be at these revenues, how much can you do? How much do you estimate that a salesperson can do? And how many salespeople will you need?
Always keeping in mind that the first month that a salesperson works for you, if you hire them from scratch, they’re probably not going to make you any money at all.
Marc V: That’s true. By the way, if your goal is to be the salesperson for your own company, and that’s what you want, this is a different podcast. You could listen to some other things, but you could take these concepts and turn them into paying people to do everything else.
Mark S: Nah. Just turn this off!
Marc V: Here’s my litmus test question to ask yourself, and see if you’re right.
Mark S: Surprisingly, there are four of them!
Marc V: Yes, four. I was doing lots of fours, if you noticed.
Mark S: I understand.
Marc V: Here we go. If you can answer yes to these four things, then you’re allowed to move on to the next thing.
Do you have a solid pitch and demo for your products? Do you know how to sell your products? What they are? How to sell them? What do you offer? What’s the benefits? What is the pitch?
Because you’re going to have to sell it to a salesperson, to get them to want to come work for you.
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: Is the owner or founder working over 60 hours a week? There’s your time track. If you are working 30 hours a week, and you’re like “I’m going to hire a salesperson.”
Mark S: Wait. If you’re working 30 hours a week, and this is your full-time job.
Marc V: Yes.
Mark S: If you’re working 30 hours a week, and it’s after hours, you need to take a weekend off.
Marc V: Well, we’re a different scenario. That can come part into it. But we’re talking about if you’re full time in your business. I’m referring to that.
If you’re full time in this business, and you’re working more than 60 hours a week, you’re reaching a breaking point, where you might not be able to sustain doing this for much longer. This could be a time where hiring a salesperson.
Now, if you want to be the salesperson, different scenario. Hire them to do something else. But that’s a breaking point.
Also, you want to be pushing yourself to that limit. So, if this is your only business, and you’re only putting 30 hours into it, and you want to make more money, I would say work more hours, because you’re only working part time.
Mark S: I concur. Because even if you are not the best salesperson, or you hate it, you can take a day a week or two days a week, or whatever you’re not devoting to the other activities, and you can go out and you can sell, even if it’s by accident. Just by the sheer numbers of talking to a bunch of people, and telling them what you did.
We’ve got tons of podcasts on that, as well.
Marc V: Or networking. You’ve got so much time to network, go to every luncheon event. Anywhere where you’re going to meet and mingle with people, you go there, and you have some cards in your pocket.
Mark S: Take another internal look, and make sure that you have the right reason again, for hiring a salesperson. I like it.
Marc V: That’s what I think. Next, is your product worthy? This is, I think, what’s great.
Mark S: It’s a good one, too.
Marc V: This is why this is great, because a lot of people have this dysmorphia on what they produce is good, if their cooking is good, if their singing voice is good. A lot of people have this.
Mark S: I’m back at dysmorphia.
Marc V: They believe something is great, but actually, it is not great.
Mark S: “The word is dysmorphia.” “Can I have the root, please?”
Marc V: You work on spelling it, and I’ll go into the next portion.
Mark S: No, I like what you’re talking about with that. I understand, because I get people occasionally, that will just think they have the most amazing t-shirt idea. Obviously, maybe they’ve talked to friends and family about it, but they’ve never shown it to somebody outside of the business, or it’s a new brand.
I look at it, and it’s just not good. Technically, it’s not good. The graphic isn’t good, it’s not high enough resolution. There’s no particular general market appeal. It’s the Nike swoosh, but with nothing behind it.
There are circumstances where either your idea just isn’t good. There also are the same kinds of circumstances, maybe it’s not a good physical product.
Marc V: Yeah. And really, at this point in time, because you’ve made it through step one and two, or almost the end of step two. So, you’ve already got customers. You’re already selling to them. You’re already producing a product that people are purchasing, and you believe that it is good.
But you need to really verify this with your customers. A way you can do it is to give them an opportunity to do just an anonymous comment card. It doesn’t have their name on it, or anything like that. You give them a stamp and an envelope, and a blank card. “How is the quality of the product? If you couldn’t buy from me anymore, how sad would you be?”
Ask them these questions, because you want to know from your customers, that they really like you. You can also get this with just reviews. If you have lots of customers praising you and referring you to more customers, that’s a natural sign of that, already.
If more than half of your customers tell other people to buy from you, you almost don’t even need that review.
Mark S: But still, it’s a good point that you may be able to increase your sales somewhat dramatically, just by if you discover that maybe some customers, or a percentage of customers, aren’t coming back because the designs wash off.
You may already be selling. You may have that extra business that you’re looking for, but you’re not offering the right shirt or the right kind of graphics, or you’re somehow failing to make the most of that customer experience.
Marc V: Yeah. Your process is wrong. All of it comes in. You’ve got to talk to your customers about the satisfaction of their product, and you’ve got to really look for those telltale signs, like are they referring you? Are they coming back, to buy again? And all of that.
The next one, fourth one, is can you afford a salary, to hire somebody good? We can talk about the commission only thing, but for now, if you want to find somebody who is a career-driven person, who has – the typical thing. They need the money, because they have a family.
You want a salesperson that’s hungry to make money, because of whatever it is. They’ve got expensive hobbies, they’ve got families, they’ve got life. They want money, so they can do all of these things. They need it.
It’s great if you hire a retired person that doesn’t need money.
Mark S: But that’s kind of the ancient litmus test of a salesperson. They will sell, if they really need the money. If they don’t, if they’re doing it like part time for fun, or any scenario that leads to them not actually having to make their mortgage payment, then they’re probably not going to perform like somebody that’s in that situation.
Marc V: Yeah, that needs it and wants it. Somebody who is like “I’ve got family to take care of. I’ve got a boat that I really want to buy. That’s our family goal, is for next year, to buy a boat, so we need to save up this amount of money.”
The person who has all of these goals is going to be hungry to reach them. But anyway, if you want to hire somebody that’s good, offering a salary that you can pay somebody -.
Mark S: A small one.
Marc V: A reasonable salary that you can pay somebody, to say “Come on board. I’m investing in you,” is going to open up – if you’re looking at a pie chart of people looking for sales jobs, the ones who say “I want a commission only job, and no guarantee or no base or anything to get going,” is a sliver.
Mark S: It really is. And honestly, that may not be the best quality salesperson that you’re going to hire.
Marc V: It’s the whole thing. There’s exceptions to everything. Somebody is going to think of an exception and say “Well, I did -.” Great! For the most part, most salespeople would like a job where they get a little bit of a salary. They have an opportunity to make commissions. Maybe a guarantee for a period of time, and then they’re on commission only.
All of that’s fine, but people want to be able to say “I can take this job, because I’ve got to pay my bills, now. I’ve got goals, now.” It’s going to be more rare to say “Oh, money? I’ve got that! I don’t need money for like six months!”
Mark S: I do want to kind of describe something that you mentioned in that. We’re talking about giving someone a salary. There’s an option where you just make that a permanent salary for somebody, just like you hire anybody.
You pay them $2,000 a month or whatever it is, and that’s their job. It’s what they get paid, and they get paid commission on top of that. Great motivation, there.
You also have a beginning salary. Maybe it’s a certain amount a month, for the first six months, until they’ve built up their book of business. Then, they’re commission only. That’s an option.
There’s also a guarantee, which is kind of a split. In other words, you’re a commission salesperson, but I’m going to make sure that you make $2,000 a month, no matter what. It’s kind of a comfortable position for a salesperson, because they know if they have a slow month, they’re going to make X number of dollars, which will keep their lifestyle up.
But it also gives them the opportunity where I hope they never need to rely on that, because they’re making so much more money in commission.
So, that’s salary, kind of a starting salary, and a guarantee.
Marc V: A guarantee is also, in a nutshell, “I’m going to pay your $3,000 a month for your first three months, and you’ve got to start paying that back to me, out of your commissions.”
The big difference between paying somebody a salary and not, is typically going to be the percentage you’re willing to give them in commission. However, I just find that most salespeople, for the most part, unless you’re selling a really high-end product that offers a really large commission, then typically they’d like a base, and make some money.
And you need to just do the math on what does that mean.
Mark S: The point is that you have that money in the bank, and that you’re comfortable. You’re investing in this person, because it could be 90 days, 120 days, before they catch on.
Marc V: If you’re going to say $30,000 a year, I think, is a nice number. It could be $20,000. It could be $40,000. It depends on where you live. But whatever that number is, think about that number.
You can find out all of this information by doing research online, in your area, or going on job recruiting websites, and seeing what people are paying in your area. You can do all of your own research on this.
You can go to an agency, and ask them. “What do I need to pay?” There’s a lot of ways to do research.
But anyway, let’s just you the $30,000 a year, $2,500 a month. You’re going to want to have money in the bank to pay them $2,500 a month, if that’s the salary you’re going to offer them, and assume that you’re going to get zero of it back, for 90 days, because there’s going to be costs involved.
They’re going to make some sales, but have some goals. You should have that ready to go.
Mark S: Can I kind of split the difference here, for a second?
Marc V: Sure.
Mark S: There are reps out there who might be in a similar business. If you get somebody in, for example, that is [inaudible 00:37:14] in the Tampa Bay area. They sell promotional products, so they call on Universities and colleges, and big businesses. And they’re already in that business, as kind of a freelancer for somebody else.
If you can piggyback on that, that might be a circumstance where you won’t be paying a salary. You’ll just be paying a really aggressive large commission amount, because when that person goes in to talk to an account about one thing, then they’re just letting your products kind of tag along. That can be a very successful option.
Marc V: That’s actually one of the things we talked a little bit about earlier, that I wanted to say, that I think is the best option that is beyond luck. Because we talked about the luck thing.
You just ran into the person who is commission only, and naturally driven to just make a ton of money, and “Don’t pay me. I’ll take care of myself,” and is actually good at it, and actually will show up, and won’t disappear on you. All of those things.
But if you want to actually make it happen, and say “I really want to get ramped up faster. I don’t have all of the steps, but I feel like I’m really close. The money is a risk. I don’t want to take that risk. I’m risk-averse. I’d rather put the money elsewhere,” I’ve got you.
I really would say you’ve got to hire somebody who is already selling something like promotional products. They already sell freelance. Maybe they are another business that sells a bunch of things. They don’t sell what you do.
So, you say “Hey, I’ll wholesale through you.” But the thing about this is they’re going to be used to making, if they’re selling promotional products, if they’re reselling signs, whatever they’re reselling and doing, they’re going to be used to making a 25% to 50% range, depending on the product they’re selling.
So, you need to be prepared to say “25% of my sales is going to be my commission to them.” And fine! That’s part of the down side of doing that business, is the larger commission. The good thing is it’s almost no work for you.
Mark S: Yeah, and you can find those people frequently, just by talking to your customers. Like “Is there a salesperson that you deal with, that you would recommend for my company, too?” That’s a great way to get introduced.
You’re already in one of the same accounts, so it’s likely that they’ll know your target customer, and they’ll easily slide into your business.
Marc V: And you could do research on this. As you’re talking to customers, you notice that they’ve got pens. “Hey, where did you get those pens and awards from, that you have in here for sale?” “Oh, we get it from such-and-such company.”
You look them up online. You find out they don’t offer any embroidery. You do embroidery. Then all of a sudden, you go to them and you kind of make the pitch, “Hey, I’ll wholesale for you.” They may already have kind of a sales setup, ready to go.
Mark S: Let’s reiterate the four things one more time, before we move on. That is, do you have a solid pitch or demo for your product? Is the owner or founder working over 60 hours a week?
Marc V: Yeah. Are you already busting it?
Mark S: Can you do it, really? Or are you just being lazy? Is your product worthy? In other words, do you have a good quality product? And you need to find that out from your customers, not from the people that live in your same house.
And can you afford the base salary, or to pay somebody for 90 to 120 days, as a cushion, without them generating revenues for you? Keep in mind, it’s an investment.
Marc V: Yes. It’s an investment, and sometimes investments don’t work out.
Mark S: True.
Marc V: Sometimes, the thing is if you say six months is how much you’ve got saved, which would be a great number, that also means that you could have somebody that works for you for 30 days, and then you kick them out and get a new person. You’ve still got five months. That’s the great thing about that.
But if you’ve answered yes to all of those things, then you’re on step three, which is prepare. I like this one.
Here’s a list of everything you have to have, before you can hire somebody. You are not allowed to hire somebody, before you have these things.
Sales orders and quoting documents, plus the procedures that we mentioned above. A sales process, that we mentioned above. You shouldn’t have even gotten this far anyway, if you don’t have the sales process.
Mark S: Honestly, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think ColDesi has two of these.
Marc V: Have a written-down sales process. Have it in writing. A client profile. You want to be able to explain to a potential salesperson who your clients are, who your demographic is. A profile of who you mainly sell to.
Are you going to offer leads or cold calls? How are you getting customers?
Mark S: This is a really big deal, because sales organizations are completely different. For example, ColDesi is set up where we do tons of videos, and we do a podcast, as an example. And we do a lot of paid advertising.
So, none of our salespeople spend their days picking up the phone and calling businesses, to try to see if they are interested in our equipment.
On the other hand, there are some businesses that don’t do much or any of that. They don’t have incoming phone calls. If your office is quiet, unless you make something happen, then what you’re looking for is more of a hunter; somebody whose job description is going to be go knock on doors and make calls.
Marc V: Both of those are very viable sales jobs, and both of those are things that – hunters are bored with leads. People who work leads really well are not as aggressive as the hunters. Is it a hunter-gatherer thing?
Mark S: It’s hunters and farmers. That’s it.
Marc V: Anyway, just know what that is. Know what you need. Is your phone ringing too much? Or is your phone not ringing enough?
A compensation plan; you have to have a comp plan. You have to know what you’re going to pay them. You have to have a commission structure. Maybe you have tiered bonuses or not. These are all things just to consider. Do all of the math on that.
Those commissions are going to be anywhere from 3% to 30%, typically.
Mark S: Google it.
Marc V: Yeah, Google it. And again, talk to a staffing agency locally, to find out what you should be.
Mark S: Or go into the Custom Apparel Startups Facebook group, and type in “sales commissions” in the search bar, and see what people say.
Marc V: Quotas; you’ve got to have some quotas. What goals are you going to have for this salesperson?
Mark S: I like that better. Goal is the positive way to say that. Which is “We really want you to hit this amount of money in sales, or this number of garments sold.” A quota is more like “If you don’t sell this many, then we’re going to slap you or warn you or fire you.”
Marc V: You will.
Mark S: That’s going to happen, but it’s the way you say it.
Marc V: You’ve got to have a goal, because the reason that you have this goal is because you’ve already done the math to say this salesperson is profitable, if they sell X amount of dollars in apparel a year. They need to sell whatever the number is.
Let’s just use an even round number, $100,000 is the number that you need for them to sell, to pay the salary and commission and all of the numbers you worked, plus the risk involved in hiring somebody, and some HR things you might have to deal with.
So anyway, you give them a goal. “In your first 30 days, you have to sell $1,000 in apparel. In your next 30 days, you’ve got to sell $5,000 in apparel. Every month after that, you have $10,000 as the minimum that you’ve got to do, and you have up to six months to get to that $10,000.”
Mark S: Not that you’re going to fire them immediately, if they don’t reach those goals. But at least you’ve got a benchmark, to have a conversation. Because now, you’ll know if they are being successful, from the numbers. Not just because you like them or they seem busy.
And they’ll know that you’re not just going to let them sell $1,000 a month worth of stuff, and stay on their salary for the whole time.
Marc V: Yeah. And that’s with the guarantee, you can kind of get a little complicated. If you don’t know a lot about this, research it. If you need some help with that, a staffing agency.
Mark S: The sales tools is a great next point. I would not have thought of that.
Marc V: Obviously, you’re not going to have their business cards before you hire them, but you need to have a business care designed, and get ready to order business cards. Brochures, sales quotes, a sample for them to give out, a sales plan that you’re going to tell them about.
A CRM. We’ve talked about that in previous, but a piece of software to help them manage all of their leads, all of the people that they’re talking to. Not just a notepad, that if they walk away, all of the notes are gone, because they’re in scrap pieces of paper and napkins, in their car.
Mark S: Let me tell you, and this is almost unavoidable. But if your salesperson has all of their own notes, and they use their own cell phone to conduct business, and all they have from you is a price sheet and a business card, then those are your salesperson’s customers, not yours.
Because they can just go somewhere else.
Marc V: They can just go ahead and swap out your price sheet for another company’s price sheet.
Mark S: Yes.
Marc V: That’s why maybe you provide them a cell phone. These are things to think about.
Mark S: There’s a “no compete.”
Marc V: Yeah, you can have something like that. Maybe you provide them a phone.
Mark S: Or maybe you’re just an amazing place to work.
Marc V: It should be. But yeah, you provide them all of the tools they need, so they don’t feel like it’s them. They feel like they are a partner in your business, and they work for you, not that they alone are doing it.
That’s the down side of, also, the person that you pay nothing but commission. Because that person might just say “You know what? I sell a lot of embroidery. I wonder if I can make some money checking out this other shop down the road.”
They’re not loyal to you. The person that works for you is going to have some loyalty. Especially if they feel, not that they’re an owner, but they feel like that.
Mark S: Let me just tell you, in a lot of successful businesses, there’s a salesperson very near the top. Right? So, if you are hiring a salesperson, think about that you’re not just hiring somebody to peddle your stuff. But this may be somebody that you’re truly partnered with, down the road.
Because the more you grow, the more salespeople you’re going to need. You’re going to need a Sales Manager. You’re going to need a Director of Sales. You’re going to need a VP of Sales.
Hopefully, you can find somebody that you can groom to be really an integral part of your business future.
Marc V: A lot of folks, they want to remain relatively small, so it’s great to have this person that’s ingrained into your business, and say “No, I don’t really ever want to grow to more than 10 employees. We’re small town people, small business people, and that’s all we want to be.”
Great! That’s more of a reason to get this person really locked in, as part of the team.
Mark S: Because then, they’ll stay there for a decade.
Marc V: They’ll stay there forever, and they’ll work with you forever. They’ll come back with feedback, “If we do this, we can sell more.” You’ll work together.
Mark S: I want to paint a good picture for if you find the right salespeople, and with that kind of long-term future in mind. How long have the salespeople here, with ColDesi and Colman and Company, been part of the company?
We’ve got people that have been here for 11 years, at least.
Marc V: Yeah. We have more than a few, that have over 10 years. They’ve become a part of the business. And all of the things above that you’ve done, first of all, make them feel like they’re actually working for a company that cares, and really wants to grow.
They feel stable. They feel safe. This is not just about salespeople. It’s about humans in general. If you’re dating, and you go to meet somebody, and they are a hot mess everywhere, you don’t really feel – “I don’t know if I want to get too involved with this person.”
And your business looks like that, if it’s a hot mess, too. So, when you do step one and step two and step three, and you’re getting to your salesperson, they’re looking at you like “This lady has got it together! This guy has got it together! I know I’m going to be their first salesperson, but they thought this out.”
We’re going to get into it, but you’ve got to sell to that salesperson, to work for you.
Mark S: You’re being interviewed, too.
Marc V: Yes. They’re going to decide if they’re going to work for you, too.
Step four, now it’s time to make the move. You’ve done everything above. How are you going to find the right person? You’ve got to make the move. How are you going to find the right person?
I put here, the best thing you could do, especially for your first salesperson, is to try to find a referral. A friend of a friend, a business associate of a business associate. Somebody who is in sales, who has done this type of sales.
Maybe they’re just unhappy where they work. They’re looking for something new. They’ve got a lot of skills. Maybe they’re working for a dying industry. Maybe they sell print ads, locally in your area, and they’ve been doing it for 20 years.
They’re great! They know a ton of people. The problem is nobody wants to buy print ads.
Mark S: Nobody wants to buy yellow pages anymore.
Marc V: So, you find this person, and you give them a new opportunity to sell something. And they can go back to all of these people they’ve built a relationship with. It’s great, if you can find somebody.
Maybe it’s not a person who has done this before. Maybe they worked in a completely different industry, but they’re a good salesperson, and they’re going to be loyal. They’ve got the skills.
Mark S: They’ve got the skills. They’re used to being on the phone, or in the car for the day. I will say one caveat there is make sure you don’t hire somebody that you’re just never going to be able to let go. So, if they live in your house, it’s a no. Right?
Unless everybody knows it’s temporary.
Marc V: You could force your kid to do it, right?
Mark S: You could. I have done that. That’s why she never calls.
Marc V: That’s why she doesn’t call you anymore!
Yeah, try to get a referral. That’s such a good way to find staff.
Mark S: That’s the way we hire most of our people.
Marc V: We get tons of referrals, when it comes to looking for that. A lot of the jobs I’ve had in my past were from a friend of mine, “Hey, you should work here. It’s a cool place.”
Mark S: I think most of the people that started at ColDesi went to high school with Scott Colman. Or related, in some way.
Marc V: There was a time, but because – I’ll say this. I mean, he’s a good businessperson. So, he realized that “As I’m taking risk in the beginning, I need to hire people that I can trust. And the reason I can trust them, is because the people that I trust a lot, trust them.”
Mark S: I will also say that a very large percentage of those people are still here. They are! It’s great.
Marc V: Yes. It’s because it was a good decision, from the beginning.
Mark S: Okay, number two; phone screening. Yes.
Marc V: Wait! Number one! Get a resume.
Mark S: That’s a good idea.
Marc V: No matter who the referral is. Here are the steps. The first, actually, we skipped for a second there.
You want to try to get a referral. That’s the best thing. But maybe your referral doesn’t work out for you. Try a recruiting agency. You’re going to spend money, but it could be good. Just check it out. At least make a phone call.
If not, you’re going to end up on job boards and job sites, posting the job, and you’re going to be doing all of the legwork.
Mark S: You’re going to get 1,000 resumes.
Marc V: And good. Maybe you want to do it that way. All of those are viable ways to do it. I just personally would say for a small business, this is a large risk, hiring your first person out. If you can get a referred person, a trusted friend of a trusted friend, a trusted business associate of a trusted business associate, then you can trust them.
Step one; get a resume, no matter what. No matter what the referral is, always have that person send a resume.
Mark S: Even if it’s a cousin. You know what I mean? Because if they cannot provide you with a resume, or if they say “Let me do one real quick and I’ll send it to you,” then they’re probably not really serious about a job. Right?
If you are looking for a job, if you want to change your circumstance or make more money, or relocate, or if you’re looking for new opportunity, you’re ready. You’ve got a decent resume there. And you can tell a lot about a person, just from their resume, too.
Is everything spelled right? Is their phone number on it? If a salesperson can’t give you a resume that has their contact information, then they’re not going to give your customers contact information.
Marc V: Yeah. And another interesting thing is maybe you’re poaching somebody out. You know a friend of a friend, and you find out that they really don’t like where they work for. They sell newspaper ads, and it’s failing for them, and they wish they could find something better. “Send me your resume.”
So, the type it up quick thing, maybe he doesn’t have one ready, because he’s worked for the company. He’s not going to say “Let me type it up quick.” “I’ll get that to you.”
Mark S: He’s going to work on it.
Marc V: “I have a sales opportunity here. I’m going to spend an hour or however long it takes, to sell myself to this person, on a piece of paper.” You want a salesperson that is going to take the time to sell themselves to you, before they even talk to you.
It’s an important step. Ask for a resume. It will just allow you to see their history, their profile. You can just kind of take a look at who they are, and when you go to have conversations, you’ll naturally have some questions to ask them.
“What did you do, when you worked for the telephone company?”
Mark S: Yeah. “I see you’ve changed jobs every eight months, for the last 12 years. Do you think that there’s something about this position, that will make you last longer?”
Marc V: Step two; phone screening. You were going to say something about that.
Mark S: I am, because this is a big deal. Your salesperson, whether they are on the road or not, knocking on doors, they are going to be spending a lot of time on the phone, talking to your customers.
You want to make sure that they sound good, that they represent themselves well, that you can understand what they’re saying, when they’re on the phone, and that this is somebody that you would want to talk to.
Marc V: And you just like them. That’s my big thing. When I’m doing a phone interview, when I talk to somebody on the phone or interviewing them for a position, the number one thing; it is not fancy. There is no magic touch. Do I actually enjoy talking to this person for this five minutes?
That’s the number one question. If the answer is no, then no one is going to enjoy talking to them. Some people are really not very nice to talk to. They’re unpleasant to talk to, for whatever reason it is. If that’s the case, are they going to really be the salesperson that you want?
Mark S: Right.
Marc V: So, make that assumption. And then, think from your customer’s perspective.
Mark S: Before you do the next step, which is an in-person interview.
Marc V: Yeah. Don’t waste time with it. Just five minutes, 10 minutes on the phone. Here’s how I do it. I’ll tell you, this is what.
“First, I’m just going to go ahead, and I’m just going to tell you really quick what the position is, just a basic understand of what the job is, and what it’s going to do, and make sure that this is something that’s going to work for you.”
And then, you’ll agree. “How does that sound?” “Good.”
“Okay, the next thing after that, I’m just going to tell you a little bit about me and my company, what I’m looking to do, what my goals are. Then, I’ll make sure you’re good with that. Does that sound good?” “Yeah.”
“Okay, and then I’ll ask you a couple of questions about you, and you kind of just give me a pitch on what you’re looking to change in your life.” I word it like that. “What are you looking to change?” Because they’re coming to you, for a new job.
These are the three steps I take. For one, I want to weed out all of the people who actually don’t want the job. “So, what you’re going to do is you’re going to go around, and you’re going to be looking for companies that get apparel, and blah blah blah. Does that sound like a career move you would want to make?”
“Actually….” “Okay, good.” So, they don’t waste my time.
“Yes! That sounds great!” “Okay, good. Let me tell you about us. We’re a small business. We’ve got three employees. We have these machines, blah blah blah.” This is where you sell the company. You are selling.
This is your pitch, in two minutes, for them. At the end of that conversation, they want nothing more than to sell themselves to you, because they want to work for you. This is the anatomy of that phone call.
And then, the last couple of minutes, “Tell me what you want to change.” Now, this is your opportunity to figure out if you like them. Five minutes, ten minutes tops.
Mark S: That’s good. I do it the other way around. What I do is I usually start off with “Hey, thanks for applying for the job. I’m looking at your resume, but just go ahead and tell me a little bit about yourself, and why you’re looking to make a change.”
Then, I will just shut up for a long period of time, until they’re done talking. I’ll do that, so they’ll tell me things that aren’t on the resume. Oftentimes, when people create a resume, they’re putting their best spin on everything that took place.
But when they’re being conversational, and they have the opportunity to talk about themselves, you may learn something that would preclude you from offering them the position, anyway.
Like “Oh yeah, well my dream is to move to Colorado, but I’m going to be here for another 12 months. So, I’m looking for something exciting to do.” Awesome!
Marc V: Develop your own style. I changed to this style, because I narrowed my quick pitch, get you off the phone, down to like 30 seconds, so I don’t have to listen to their nine-minute story.
Mark S: I will stipulate that Mr. Vila has been interviewing tons more people than I have.
Marc V: Lately, it’s been a thing. Develop your own style. I’m just telling you have a little method, five minutes.
Then, you do an in-person interview. Set a meeting. This is really where you want to really get to know them. For one, do you like them? Up still, will your customers like them? Are they going to represent your brand?
Here’s where you just kind of do the interview stuff. You ask them about their past, more. You talk about their future. What else do you have to say?
Mark S: I have to say that there are rules of what you can directly ask people and what you can talk about, and decisions that you can make. You cannot make a hiring decision based on somebody’s family status, their religion.
Marc V: Age.
Mark S: Their race, their age, their political orientation. All of those are probably questions that you want to know, but you cannot ask them those things, by law.
You can ask them to, if you want to judge on those things, which I do not support and recommend, but if your situation puts you in a place where you want to judge on those things, then you can say “Tell me about yourself. Tell me more about yourself.”
“Oh, well, I’ve got three kids. They’re between the ages of three and three and a half. I’m a single mom. I work nights now, and I want to add this position, so I can pick up some more money, and find a better life.”
That profile may fit your company great. You may really want to get behind that, and nurture that person. And you may not.
Marc V: Yeah. “This person’s hungry for money. They’re hungry to make it better. I actually sell to people who are in this position, because I deal with a lot of moms.” These are all things to consider.
But the in-person interview really needs to be all about the person and about you. I find it’s a balance of selling you, and them selling. You’ve got to find that balance.
I’ve been on interviews where – I went on an interview, and I got drilled for 30 minutes. I got no questions answered. I did not call them back.
Mark S: Absolutely not.
Marc V: You don’t have to be a dictator of an interview. Interview somebody in a position professionally. Know the rules and laws. Look it up, just to make sure you don’t violate them. Interview somebody professionally. Get to know them.
And this should be something that’s 30 to 60 minutes.
Mark S: Yeah. And just so you know, I really support what you were talking about on the phone, and that is making sure that this is somebody that you’re going to be able to work with, like in person.
Because even if they say everything right, and the resume looks great, and they’ve got tons of experience, if it doesn’t seem like you’re going to mesh with this person for any reason at all, then give yourself a break, and don’t hire them.
Because you’re going to be tied up with that person. You’re going to be paying that person. You have to have a positive feeling about them. Right?
Marc V: Yes. And your customers, as well, because you’ve done step one and two. You know your customers. You know your customer profile. You know your sales pitch, your plan, and all of that. And this person needs to fit within that.
Next, references. Get personal and business, both references. And actually call them. References are often not called. I think that you should do this.
Now, if this is your 20th salesperson, are you going to dig all deep, and call all of the references? I don’t know. Maybe yes, maybe no.
But your first salesperson, and this is a cold person you’ve never met before, and they put “Oh, yeah. I worked for that company for a couple of years. It was great.” “Why did you leave?” “Well, you know.”
If you’re not sure of the answer, “Well, what would that person have to say about you?” “They would say I was a great salesperson.” “Okay. Do you have a reference for there?”
And then, look for warning signs, immediately. Their supervisor isn’t their reference. Interesting. Why? Ask, maybe. “He passed away.” “Oh! Okay. Good reason.”
But “Oh, we didn’t see eye to eye.” “Alright, then.” These are things to consider.
Mark S: And it’s really telling if someone can’t give you a personal reference, because they obviously just either don’t want anybody to know that they’re looking for a job, or the people that they do know are not going to say good things about them.
Marc V: Yes. There are plenty of people who are terrible!
Mark S: I will say, and it’s kind of classic now, that one reference could be somebody’s Facebook profile. It really could be.
Marc V: Sure. Also, on all of this stuff, disclaimer; I am not a legal counsel to tell you the right and wrong way to do any of these things.
Mark S: Neither am I.
Marc V: You should check with your state laws, and make sure that these steps are good and fine with how your state operates, in interviewing. This is another good reason to go back, and I mentioned a few times already, it’s great to talk with a staffing firm. They could help to inform you of these things, possibly.
Anyway, all of that. These are just basic steps that are often done in business. I didn’t make all of this stuff up. This is stuff I’ve researched, and before I wrote it down, I researched it again.
Mark S: There are only two things that you made up. That whole call references thing, nobody really does that.
Marc V: Yeah, so call references. A background check. A consensual background check is a thing. Again, laws. Find out. Look up companies that do background checks. They usually have consent forms. I’m pretty sure it’s legal everywhere, but check for where you live.
The background check is going to tell you a lot about this person.
Mark S: It does cost a few bucks. I can’t remember what the prices are, but it does cost a little bit.
Marc V: I did a little bit of research. I saw from $100 to $300. I don’t know what the difference is and why.
Mark S: Here are a couple of things that you might find out in a background check; that they didn’t check the box for a felony conviction. These are things that I’ve had examples of, in my own hiring.
We found out one person that we were about to hire had a lien against his check from Health and Human Services. And that may be okay. You may want to overlook that. But it’s a regulatory burden on you, that the company that I was working for would have to administer that every month.
They don’t get their whole paycheck. You send part of their paycheck here, and part of their paycheck to them. If it’s your first salespeople, that’s a lot.
You could find out that the things on his or her resume were not true. They didn’t really have a degree from that University. They don’t really live at that address. They don’t have a driver’s license.
Marc V: They didn’t mention that they lived in Kansas for five years. Anywhere.
Mark S: It was Leavenworth!
Marc V: But they put that they worked here. So, it can lead to questions.
Mark S: You should do it.
Marc V: Sometimes, it’s fine. It could also lead to just finding out if the person actually was a bad enough person to do really bad things. Then, if you want to be the person who takes the risk on that, that they are now a reformed person, it’s a decision you get to make.
I’m not saying one is good or not good, and you should never hire -.
Mark S: But you should know.
Marc V: You should know. And it will open all of the things. Do they have aliases? Do they have an alias and another name, in another state, where they actually stole $100,000 from the small business owner that they had? That’s a risk!
Mark S: Just a little bit! Okay, now we’re at the good stuff. Make me an offer.
Marc V: Make an offer. So, you’ve talked to them. They passed the background check. The offer, this is a contract. Right? This is the real deal.
Mark S: It may be in the form of an offer letter, but it is a contract between the two parties.
Marc V: Yeah. Basically, how it’s a contract is it’s saying “You are going to work this, and the hours, and this is going to be your job description,” in writing. “And I am going to give you this much money, in exchange for that work.” Basically, right?
You can also include other things; expectations, all of that. What you might be providing. Maybe you do provide a company phone, a cell phone. It’s not that much money. Like $10 a month, you get another line. Now, you control all of their phone calls, and you can see who they’re calling all day. Stuff like that.
But anyway, make an offer. In this offer, this is where step one really helps you out, because you are a salesperson and a closer. You’ve got to get this person to commit their life to you, at this point in time.
You want to make them excited about it, and believe and trust in you. So, this is your closing. “Here’s the offer I’m going to make you. I want you to come on board. We’re going to do great together! Here are some things we’re going to do.”
“I know you really have these goals. They align with my goals. It’s perfect. Let’s do business together.” You do it verbally, you put it in writing.
I like the idea of putting it in writing, and have them sign it. It’s not a bad thing to have.
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: This way, there’s no discrepancy. Again, the same reason, go back to like 1,000 of our episodes, where we say, to customers, to never give a quote verbally, and then start doing work. Put it in writing.
It’s not so much that anyone is going to think anyone is a liar. More so, misunderstandings.
After you hire a salesperson, two goals. I kind of made this up, but I kind of read it somewhere, too.
Mark S: Let me see. I’m reading, and we’re talking. “Get reports, data and info from them every day.” Okay. I think that’s a reasonable first 30 days kind of a thing.
If they’re in the office, you can observe them, and find out. But you really should have the conversation with them every day, at the end of the day, saying “Show me a list of the people that you talked to or went to see, and tell me what happened.”
You’re kind of using it as a coaching opportunity, rather than a “I want to make sure that you did 180 phone calls.”
Marc V: Yeah. Just “Tell me how today went. Did you hear some new objections? Did you hear some new positive feedback? Did you have any good leads?”
Mark S: “Did you learn anything new?”
Marc V: “Did you learn anything new? Are there more tools I can provide you, to help you tomorrow?” It’s for you. It’s for them, but really it’s for you, because this is your business.
Mark S: And you want to make notes. If they are an outbound salesperson, and they said they managed to talk to 12 people, being out on the road, and they’ve written down those people, then you want to see. Okay, did he do 12 people tomorrow? Did he do 13 people the next day?
Did he do 25 people the following day? Or is it 12 people today, because he was excited, and then eight tomorrow? And then, three? You need to keep up on these metrics, their sales metrics.
“How many people did you see? How many people did you talk to? How many people did you quote? And how many people bought?”
Marc V: This is actually – (phone ringing). I think I’m ringing.
Mark S: Is that you?
Marc V: We’re live! I am. Alright. Oh, it’s my daughter calling. She will call nine more times in a row.
Mark S: Go ahead.
Marc V: Let me just -we’re doing it.
Mark S: Sure!
Marc V: Hey!
Marc V: I’m recording a podcast right now, so can I call you when I’m done?
Marc V: Alright. Do you want to say hi?
Daughter: Oh, yeah. Sure!
Marc V: Say hi. You didn’t actually say it.
Marc V: Okay, bye! Alright. That’s what will happen, is if I miss the call, she’s young.
Mark S: I get it.
Marc V: She’ll just boom boom boom! We could edit that out, or not.
Mark S: She would make a great salesperson.
Marc V: She would. She would be non-stop calls.
Mark S: One of the characteristics.
Marc V: Anyway, get reports and data. I wanted to say something really important on this. This is the CRM portion, I think, is awesome, because it will give you the metrics.
Mark S: What does CRM stand for?
Marc V: CRM – customer relationship management. It’s a software. It’s not one software. There’s a thousand of them, and they’re all very, very inexpensive. Compared to the money you’re going to invest in a salesperson, this is pennies.
Some of them are free, for your first three employees. There’s all types of stuff like that. Or free, up to 1,000 contacts.
What you do is you set up a CRM. Just Google it. Find a bunch. Watch their videos. Find the one that feels good for you. Definitely have a mobile app.
What you do is if they’re an outside salesperson, and they’re outside knocking on doors and calling people, what you do is you have them input business names into the CRM.
They go, they hit a little shopping plaza, they grab some business cards, they talk to some people. Then, they get in their car or they sit down, and they go to their CRM.
They type “Visited this insurance office. The guy said yes, we order custom apparel every year, but they just ordered some. Follow up in six months.”
They make these notes. This takes time, but they’re building this database, and they get to do some simple things, like mark follow-ups, mark a phone call, put notes from a conversation.
For one, a good salesperson is going to ask if you have that.
If you say no, that is a bad checkmark. It’s an against checkmark. Have something like that, very, very simple. We’ve talked about, in previous podcasts, if you’re doing step one in this, being a salesperson, and you’re listening or watching our older podcasts, we’ve mentioned doing that, even if you’re doing it by yourself.
Mark S: Both at ColDesi and Colman and Company, we use a CRM pretty deeply. From a marketing perspective, I look every week. I look, and do my own reporting on how much money we’re spending on marketing.
I can look in the CRM, and see how many incoming calls and leads we got. I can look to see how many we got from pay-per-click advertising, how many from salespeople. And I can look to see how many of those people that we’ve actually contacted.
People fill out an information request. Our salespeople pick up the phone or send an email, and we can tell if they have responded. These are all metrics, so we can judge the salesperson on how well they’re doing.
We can also judge the marketing, and make sure we’re finding the right people.
Marc V: This is what’s cool about a CRM, too. If you start it in step one, when you’re the salesperson, and you start it in the beginning. You’re actually just going out there, calling, entering customer information. You’re kind of building up the CRM and the information.
Maybe you’ve hit a few hundred businesses, or however many you’ve hit over the course of time, when you were the only salesperson. You’ve got all of that information in the database.
That’s a selling point to a salesperson, to say “Actually, I use this CRM, and I’ve actually got 500 businesses that I visited over the past year in there. There’s tons of notes on all of them. I’ve got some follow-ups and potentials I haven’t even been able to keep up on. I’ve had people that I should have followed up with two months ago.”
Mark S: Go get them!
Marc V: “I didn’t, so you can start there.” It’s a selling point for you, and it will help you build that book of business faster in the beginning, to get to steps two and three.
Mark S: I like number two. I wouldn’t have thought of that.
Marc V: Immediately start preparing for your second salesperson. That should be the next goal. There should be no other goals with your business, besides getting a second salesperson. Not buying a new machine.
Mark S: What?
Marc V: I know. Because the thing is, this is a long-term investment.
Mark S: True. Very true.
Marc V: It’s a long-term investment, as soon as you get that. You should already have enough equipment, to be able to have a salesperson working for you. Okay?
Mark S: Absolutely.
Marc V: So, you’ve bought that equipment already. If you don’t have enough equipment to hold up a salesperson selling for you, you’re going to fail. We didn’t talk about that.
But anyway, it’s not about all of these other things. It’s actually about having competition in your sales force. Now, you actually have a sales force. You’ve got two people selling for you.
It’s also about, in case you lose the first salesperson. They quit or you have to fire them, or whatever. You haven’t lost your whole sales force. So immediately, you hire a salesperson, and your next goal is to get salesperson number two. And follow all of the other steps.
“How much money do I have to have this salesperson making? As soon as they get up to $10,000 a month, I’m going to hire number two.”
Mark S: Even if you don’t hire them right away, you’re in that process. You probably didn’t find salesperson number one in ten days. It probably took you a little bit. So, as that salesperson comes on and you’re training them, and they’re starting to go out into the world, and try to sell for you, they may fail.
So, you’re already looking and identifying contacts for another salesperson to slip into the spot, if they do. If they are very successful, then you’ve already got somebody coming behind them, to duplicate that success, and take the business to the next level. I like it!
Marc V: The recommendation I would make is because it’s so immediate. That’s why I said there’s nothing else, because it’s immediate. You hire a salesperson, and you dedicate a little bit of time. Maybe leave the job posting up.
You start reviewing some more resumes. Maybe you do a few more little phone interviews. You’re just kind of feeling the waters out. You’re getting used to it. You’re getting better at it.
In the meantime, you’re training your new salesperson. Then, two things will happen. Either they are going to succeed, and you’ll keep them going, and now you’re kind of interviewing. Or maybe you pause, because you need to get to a goal, maybe.
30 days out, you’re like “Okay, I’m paused a bit. I’m not going to hire somebody for four more months. That’s going to be my goal.” Whatever it is.
Mark S: But it’s that idea.
Marc V: You’ve got to have the idea.
Mark S: It’s the idea that another salesperson is right behind them.
Marc V: Too many other things come into play, where they’re going to sell so much that you need another machine, or they’re going to sell so much that you need to hire another production person.
You’re going to have these road bumps, but you need to have the focus of salesperson number two. That’s going to be where you’re going to take your business to the next level, because now you’ve got double the force, double the people.
Mark S: I’ve got to say, even though the Custom Apparel Startups podcast is now 77, I really feel like we still have a lot to offer. I’m glad we didn’t just hang up the towel! I think we’re still providing some good content.
Marc V: This is exciting! We’ve got our next episode, kind of the idea planned out. We’re going to tweak that out, and we’ll be seeing you guys really soon. I think we’re ready to wrap this up.
Mark S: We are. If you haven’t already, pull over to the side of the road and follow us on YouTube. Subscribe to the YouTube channel. That way, if we do do a video recording, you get to see Marc Vila do close-up magic, and my costume changes.
And you’ll be notified when the next video comes out.
Marc V: Yes. And I’ll say, we have people that listen to the podcast regularly, and give great comments online, or they message us directly, or whatever it might be. But if you really like listening to this, and you like the content that we provide, the biggest thing that you can do for us and for the podcast, the biggest thing you can actually do is be loyal customers of ours.
Mark S: That’s a huge help!
Marc V: That would be my favorite thing.
Mark S: Buy something, for gosh sakes!
Marc V: That would be my favorite thing. However, fair enough. What you can really do for us is share this on Facebook. Share our videos on Facebook. Go onto iTunes or YouTube and rate us.
Mark S: Do a review, yeah.
Marc V: Go onto Facebook. Do a five-star review. It really helps us to increase our reach. It helps us to be able to continue to produce this podcast. It takes a lot of our effort and time, and money and everything, to continue to do this.
In you doing that, it does its job. The job of this podcast is what? It’s to inform our customers, get them more successful, help new people who are in this business trying to be successful, be a part of this family that’s successful.
And again, turn into customers of ours, turn into customers of our customers, turn into business partners of ours. It’s a community thing. So, the best way to help that community out is give us great reviews everywhere you can.
Mark S: Yep. Head for CustomApparelStartups.com, and listen to all 77-plus hours of content.
Marc V: This one is a plus, for sure.
Mark S: You can also take our course on how to get into the custom t-shirt business, and our brand new one on GIMP Custom T-Shirt Design. It’s awesome!
Marc V: I forgot about that.
Mark S: It’s great! It’s because we just launched it.
Anyway, this has been Mark Stephenson, from ColDesi.
Marc V: And Marc Vila, from Colman and Company.
Mark S: You guys have an amazing business!