It’s great to have sales experience, but rounding it out with production experience makes a big difference. Show your sales team the effort it takes to solve differences between design and execution to help them anticipate and address problems earlier.
Having the right salesperson can make or break your company. There was a time at Dreamstyle when we could find the right balance of trade experience, general experience, and personality all rolled into one candidate, but in today’s market that’s a thing of the past.
To tackle this challenge, we use the following guidelines to create salespeople with a passion for the company and products and a desire to bring success to their team.
Hire Candidates with Drafting Experience
It might sound logical that the most experience equals the best candidate, but going after candidates with drafting credentials rather than extensive sales experience has yielded our best results. Ninety percent of our sales team had minimal hands-on skill when they joined Dreamstyle, but they did have drafting and interior design certifications.
Our salespeople do their own drawing, drafting, product selections, and interior design, which has really improved the flow from sale to completion. We can teach sales tactics and production know-how, but having that base drafting knowledge, even if they haven’t used our particular software, saves us, and the employees, time and effort.
Provide Hands-on Production Training
It’s great to have the book smarts, but production experience makes a big difference in drafting and design. Taking your salespeople to jobs where something looks good on paper but doesn’t work in reality lets them see how production professionals with 15–25 years on the job handle those issues. Showing your sales team the effort it takes to solve those differences helps them anticipate and address them during pre-production stages.
Ask Regularly for Employee Feedback
Communication is the lifeblood of what we do here. As managers, we’re used to giving feedback, but listening to employee feedback is just as important.
We use our weekly sales meeting to get a tremendous amount of input, encouraging every team member to share ideas on anything from specific project issues to training tactics. We also provide the opportunity to give feedback during one-on-one meetings, two to three times a week.
Remind People of Their Value
Success doesn’t ever depend on one person, and our employees are our best asset. We make a point to regularly touch base with our team, not only to provide constructive criticism and feedback, but to remind them of their worth to the bigger picture. I share both the good and the bad of customer experience surveys with our salespeople, and we have an incentive system that rewards a job well done.
Building a company on undervalued employees will lead to a crumbling foundation. Each team member, whether behind a computer or out in the field, plays a key role to our success, and they should know we see their worth.