Maybe hard to believe, but adding a salesperson does not automatically translate into additional profit to your bottom line. The more projects that are sold, the greater the cost of goods sold, thereby creating a greater risk of human error. That’s why so many kitchen and bath firms discover the hard way that their gross margins frequently fall as their sales increase! And why so many owners soon find themselves in a position where they don’t want to be; namely, working harder to produce more sales, but not getting any more personal income out of the business.
Also, “experienced” salespeople are frequently not as productive as expected. It seems owners always advertise for, and seek to hire CMKBDs, Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Kitchen Designers. Yet that credential by itself is no guarantee of securing a real sales producer. It speaks only to their DESIGN ability, not their SALES ability. “Experienced” industry salespeople also often carry baggage that hinders them from producing big numbers in your operation. Rather than buying into your corporate culture, they may constantly refer to the way they did things at their last place of employment.
Sure, they may have generated a decent volume there, but it also may have been at gross margins considerably lower than what your business may require to be profitable. If you are considering a CMKBD, ask to see proof of sales volume produced (not just sold), gross margins regularly achieved, and income earned (W-2 forms for last three years). Indeed, as you may discover for yourself, this is an industry largely populated by many more order-takers than true professional salespeople
Before you commence recruitment for a Sales Designer, consider the importance of passing a company readiness test by satisfactorily answering the following ten (10) questions first:
- Do you have more than enough leads to support another Sales Designer (at least 10-12 leads per month)?
- To furnish capital for the sales expansion, is your firm in a position to raise its Price Formulas Multipliers by 3-5%?
- Are there new markets that can be entered, both of a product or geographic nature, to support the sales expansion?
- Do you have a staff Design Assistant to do all the CAD drawings, cabinet estimating, cabinet acknowledgements, and job site binders so the Sales Designer can maximize his/her time selling?
- Do you have a staff Project Manager to check the orders, buy materials, schedule jobs, coordinate deliveries, and manage the trades onsite?
- Do you use a CRM? If not, are your manual Lead System and Sales Analysis System in place and kept accurately up-to-date on a monthly basis by a reliable staff person?
- Is your Commission System - based upon the a percentage of the job’s gross profit and competitive with industry standards – in place, efficiently run, accurate, and on time?
- Are you prepared to make a $15-20,000 investment in a 3-month Sales Trainee salary or experienced Sales Designer draw, plus benefits and additional investments in industry and cabinet manufacturer training schools, hoping to earn a minimum 25% rate of return?
- Are you reconciled satisfactorily to giving up personal selling time for on-the-job training and ongoing sales management, thereby potentially diminishing your sales volume and personal income in the short term?
- Are you prepared to stand behind your new Sales Trainee or experienced Sales Designer in the face of careless planning errors, botched leads, incorrect job estimates, client misunderstandings, and similar frustrating mistakes which are inevitable with learning the ways of your business?
If 90% of your answers to this Sales Recruitment Questionnaire are “yes,” then you may be indeed ready to commence recruitment. If you honestly score less than 90%, then I would strongly recommend not hiring a salesperson at the present time. Make your organization and yourself ready first. SEN has considerable experience helping its members organize their personnel for greater productivity and revenue growth.
However, if you are ready to hire a salesperson, SEN advocates a special recruitment process that involves a number of steps being taken. First, develop a Specification Form that details what you expect in the way of education, experience, skills, personal qualities, earnings history, etc for the ideal person to fill the position. Second, create and post an attention-getting ad that favors a rapid response by prospects with specific call-in times. Third, use a Telephone Screening Form with knock-out questions based upon the Specification Form. Fourth, hold a comprehensive interview for the most qualified prospects, giving them a test kitchen to lay out and sketch.
The fifth and final step is crucial to selecting the right hire. Have the final 2-3 candidates take an online personality exam that measures their level of motivation. In her recent bestseller entitled Grit, Professor Angela Duckworth offers significant proof that highly motivated individuals, who are well-coached or mentored, will greatly outperform highly talented people in virtually any profession.
SEN has witnessed this phenomenon firsthand when salespeople have been recruited from other industries (using the system outlined above) and have been taught the kitchen/bath design business from scratch. They eclipsed the sales output of talented, experienced, award-winning industry designers. Of course, this approach requires the business owner to become a full-fledged trainer and sales manager. Or access specialized sales training programs like what SEN conducts on a semi-annual basis.
Toward this end, our SEN membership value proposition is simple: You will learn more (and earn a lot more) with us than without us. As proof, we invite you to attend our next, industry-specific 4-Day Sales School which features a proven sales process that can triple your annual sales production. You do not have to be a SEN Member to attend. But you may very well want to upon its completion.
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