ACCEPTING SALES CANDIDATES FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES

WHEN DOES IT WORK?

1.   When you’ve verified the candidate has a working knowledge of your product line.

How?….It could be exposure to the business because it was their spouses occupation, or their father’s, best friend’s, etc.

NOT because he/she was in the business way back when and wants to go back. Normally if one leaves an industry once, it’s because they didn’t like it or weren’t well received. Sometimes, though, a change in venue and work associates can revive one’s original interest in an industry.

2.   When the selling cycle, buyers, internal support and dollar amounts are similar.

3.   When it’s their hobby and they love the product or service. And of course they can communicate reasons why you should let them gamble with your dollars.

Can furniture salespeople sell landscaping? Can copier reps sell technology? Are retail sales skills transferable into consulting sales?

No problem. The ability to change jobs was never more obvious than from my career. I changed from selling signs to security systems to office copiers to cellular phones to video distribution to management consulting services to outplacement services to recruiting.

If someone has performed as a sales achiever in a different industry and they earnestly want to sell the product you offer for personal reasons, THEY PROBABLY CAN.

 If they are being called passionately, they may be a great hire.

If you need to analyze their ability, try this.

Was their background B to B? Some salespeople do better with the consumer than to other businesses. Also, consider that many salespeople gravitate to B-B because they learned how to sell in a B-C environment and left because of the hours. Get a commitment here that hours won’t be the issue. You’ll probably have to guess for them if they can handle it. Is the guy with three kids who play soccer going to be around on the weekend? Doubt it.

Did they sell 8 or 10 of a product monthly or did they sell a product that’s purchased every three months? Some reps need constant “hits” of success or they lose interest. A long cycle makes them impatient and they lose focus.

Was their product technical with a long learning curve? If so, they may be the patient type who needs a longer selling cycle. They may sell 4 deals a year and do $1,000,000. If you’re asking this person to switch gears and sell weekly then that might not be their style. They won’t close often enough which is necessary in a shorter cycle. 

A recent mistake on my part was to place a vacuum cleaner salesman into a new home sales opportunity. The situation created the only time in my career I had to replace a candidate who didn’t fulfill the guarantee period of 60 days. I thought if a guy could sell vacuum cleaners for 13 years, he could sell anything. As it happened, he didn’t like the process of seeing a potential buyer 6 times before they bought from him. He was so used to a first time close, he was impatient for the longer process necessary to sell a home.

Some salespeople are strong at creating an emotional buy. That is a very short selling cycle, like in-home sales, and possibly car sales. 

If you wish to discuss your sales hiring, call me. I’ll be at my desk.

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