Why good sales reps are SO hard to find (and how to find them)

When I started my business I went through lots of sales reps/recruiters before almost giving up on the sales rep idea. The more business owners I spoke to, the more I heard the same challenge, “There are just no good sales guys out there”. Thankfully, I learned some lessons along the way and discovered (eventually) how to solve one of the biggest problems most small owners face . i.e. How to find GREAT sales people.

The two biggest reasons I feel business owners and myself were failing miserably when it came to finding great sales reps were:

  1. Expectations around what a sales rep ACTUALLY should do is very wrong
  2. Sales structures for sales people are usually very wrong

Let me unpack each one:

The expectations of a sales rep:

Forget the expression of hunters (sales reps who hunt for new business) and farmers (reps who farm existing business). Sales reps essentially fall into 1 of 3 categories.

Brilliant Closers — These are salespeople who are brilliant when it comes to closing leads which they have been given. (still very hard to find, but where we all should be aiming)

Terrible Closers — The majority of sales reps however unfortunately fall into this category. Given a number of leads, they will close a tiny percentage.

Golden Geese — These are the sales reps that most business owners/sale managers go looking for and measure their current people against. These are people who, after receiving training on your product, can find, nurture AND close new business. The emphasis on “can find”. The biggest problem of the myth of the golden goose, is that these sales reps exist BUT are one in a million and we are better off forgetting about them altogether.

I believe that searching for a Golden Goose is the total wrong approach for the following reasons:

  1. They are almost impossible to find
  2. You can for sure get short term benefit from a Golden Goose but you can’t build a business around one. The only way to build a sustainable scalable business is to create sales processes which “findable sales people” can slot into and this starts with a lead generation program, not a Golden Goose.

That brings me back to the three categories above (Brilliant closers, Terrible closers, Golden Geese). Successful salespeople need to be able to close, not prospect. Prospecting or lead generation needs to be your (or your marketing managers) main priority, not your sales reps’. Creating a reliable consistent lead generation machine is by no means an easy task but once in place, it will set your future salespeople and your business up for tremendous success.

A lead generation program ,which consistently brings in good quality leads, is NOT your salespersons’ problem. If we are ever going to find and hire successful salespeople then we need to accept this.

Once we cross this precipice, we can then start our journey to find our Brilliant Closers. In order to be successful at this we first need to have the right salary structure in place.

Sales Rep Salary Structure:

“Good sales people are driven by cold hard cash” is the biggest myth ever told after the Golden Goose Salesperson. The reality is good and great sales people are driven by many factors but ALL require security.

Expecting a good sales person to leave their current job and come to your company and potentially not be able to pay their bills because they haven’t earned enough commission will NEVER attract the right type of salesperson. Furthermore if a salesperson joins you on this basis you can be 100% assured that they aren’t the right type of person either. A salesperson needs to know that they will still be able to live if they don’t sell enough of your product. Expecting that the fear of not being able to keep afloat each month, if certain targets aren’t reached, will drive someone to perform at their best is both cruel and ineffective.

We have found that the best sales salary package incorporates a good basic and other rewards such as recognition, bonuses or prizes. Commission alone, counterintuitively, almost never results in a salesperson performing well. A salesperson mostly performs well because they are inherently a good salesperson, not because they could earn a bit extra commission this month.

But why would a salesperson then sell to their max if there is no clear carrot spurring them on? That makes no sense, right? Well, does you accountant do his/her best work whether or not he/her earns a commission? Does your operations manager check stock correctly without demanding payment. If you give your sales reps recognition when they have done well, give them the security that they need (good basic salary) AND they are the right person for the job, they will do their best work (we have seen this time and time again).

In Summary:

Finding great salespeople and building a consistent lead generating machine should be all small business owner’s biggest priority. Lead generation is the egg, the salesperson is the chicken. In order to attract and keep the chicken you need to be prepared to take the risk and provide food each month regardless of whether or not the chicken lays the required number of eggs.

Patrice & Associates makes finding sales reps easy

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What Clients Say About Patrice & Associates

  • Allison Sullivan was amazing! 

    She found my resume online and reached out to me. I had been in the market looking for the right next step in my career for several months and had been receiving calls daily from different recruiters so I didn’t expect anything magical to occur overnight. Allison called me, we chatted quickly about my work experience and she advised me she thought I’d be perfect for a client she was working with….and literally the next day I got a call for an interview with the client. The day after the interview, I was immediately offered a position consulting on insurance claim management. Allison was checking in with me each step of the way and made the transition from unemployed to working at a career I’m excited about in no time at all! I cannot thank her and Patrice & Associates enough for all their help!  

    ~ Shane Laughran

    Allison Sullivan was amazing!
  • I am very thankful for Liz Costa.

    She was kind, informative, and very encouraging during the process of applying, interviewing, and finally accepting the position once it was offered to me. I have worked with several recruiters before and Liz was the most friendly and professional at the same time. She made me feel comfortable and also made me feel confident during the interview process. After only a few weeks, I now consider Liz a friend and would certainly recommend her to anyone who is in the looking in the labor market. Thank you Liz, I appreciate you as a person and a professional.

    ~Brent

    I am very thankful for Liz Costa
  • Jonathan Litt set me up for success!

    I am truly excited to start this new journey at this restaurant. I can honestly say I don't think I would have been able to pull this off without Jonathan Litt's help. He was more than professional but at the same time he was authentic and explained everything I needed to do to make things work. He definitely set me up for success. My confidence level wasn't what it used to be, but with his help he made me believe in myself. He encouraged me and believed in me as well. I will never forget his efforts. My appreciation for his work and dedication will always be remembered. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this process. I am forever grateful.

    Thank you again,

    Latifah Walker

    Jonathan Litt set me up for success!
  • Recruitment & Hiring for Sales Jobs - Patrice & AssociatesRick Weaver is a pleasure to work with!

    Very helpful and professional! Goes out of his way for people!          

    Thank you for all you do!

    Ken M.

    Rick Weaver is a pleasure to work with!
  • Rick Weaver is great!

    I love it at my new career and picture my future here. Rick was awesome in helping me choose where I need to be and how I had to get there. It took a lot of interviews and me turning jobs down because it wasn’t a fit for me. At my new career I’m in the right place!  

    Thank you,

    Shaunte

    Rick Weaver is great!