Salespeople Wanted

The rules for prospecting apply to customers--and your sales force.

By Danielle Kennedy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: Howdo you find good salespeople for a growing and profitable smallbusiness?

A: Thesame way you prospect for customers. It occurred to me mostbusiness owners seeking candidates for their sales force don'tapproach it the same way they would when prospecting for customers.But your business is built by your salespeople who are actuallyyour first and best customers. Here are a few tips to keep inmind:

Create an image. Businessowners spend a lot of time and money creating materials and amarketing image to impress their customers. The same time andeffort needs to be put forth on marketing materials presented tosales candidates. What opportunities do you offer to salespeople?Do you use endorsements from your current salespeople to attractfuture ones? What's your image? Have you created a buzz in themarketplace regarding working at your company? A buzz comes fromthe mouths of your current team and your customer base whobroadcast your good news to the world.

Qualify your candidates.Remember, you qualify prospects before they become customers. Thesame rule applies with the candidates you interview. Qualify firstby asking important questions. Don't hire the first person whowalks through the door. And don't sell them on your companyuntil later. Let them sell themselves first. Once you get someimportant questions answered, you can begin presenting information.Don't sell the candidate on working for your company. All theselling should come from the candidate.

Set goals. Top salespeoplespend at least two hours a day prospecting. Business owners andsales managers need to apply the same amount of time to finding theright candidates. How many salespeople are you looking for? The oldrule that it takes 100 calls to get one yes still holds true. Soget specific and figure in the times each day that you'll workthe territories. Business development for candidates must become ahabit. Even if you have some solid salespeople right now,situations can change overnight. If you never prospect for them,suddenly losing a key salesperson on your staff will cost you timeand profits. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Consistent goalsetting and prospecting for staff keeps your company secure nomatter what changes occur.

Work the territories. Where arethe territories that are ripe for prospecting? You need todesignate them. The following centers of influence can help get youthinking about where to go:

Chamber ofcommerce
Community serviceinvolvement (either not for profit or for profit)
Socialrelationships from church, school, volunteer work or healthclubs
Industry-relatedevents and trade shows
Referrals frompast customers
Advertising in aspecific, targeted magazine or newspaper
Internet postingson your Web site

Referrals are always your best source for finding qualifiedcandidates. But referrals come about when business owners maketheir needs known to customers, friends and family. Each day makeat least 10 calls to those folks and ask them to keep their eyesopen for qualified salespeople. It's really as simple aspicking up the phone, composing an e-mail or making a passingcomment to your friendly grocer. Once your spheres of influence areaware of your needs, you'll be surprised how many choices willbe presented to you.

Danielle Kennedy is an authority on selling, developing apeak performance attitude and winning customers for life.

The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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