The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 08, 2016 • Issue 16:08:01
Hire sales professionals, not consultants
The merchant services industry is an exciting, lucrative sector; consequently, it's also highly competitive. ISOs rely on sales professionals to do the heavy lifting of soliciting merchants and bringing in new business. In turn, we compensate them handsomely for their efforts. However, the money-making opportunity available in our industry has also attracted many people who do not have the proper sales skills.
In my professional sales management career, I've recruited well over 10,000 independent sales agents. During this period, I've learned that the most useless tool for hiring a salesperson is a resume. However, short of interviewing every person who applies for a position, which is not practical, you have no choice but to start with resumes, and hope you are selecting the right candidates to interview. I have further learned, that in the merchant services industry, the resume may be even more useless than in other industries, because it is not a predictor of future success.
Three types of candidates
I've hired seasoned sales agents with years of industry experience who turned out to be complete flops; I've also hired sales agents who didn't know the first thing about our industry who became tremendous successes. I can now tell within seconds after a conversation begins whether a person will be a good fit for our organization based on the quality of our interaction and the questions he or she asks.
I've discovered that when you are hiring independent sales professionals, you typically find three groups of candidates. The first group comprises super motivated people who are looking for a way to do the work. The second group is those looking for an excuse not to do the work, and the third group consists of individuals wanting to pretend to do the work, but in reality never will do much of anything, and instead will drain your time and energy. This group often prefers to be called "sales consultants." I still have nightmares about them.
Qualities of sales consultants
Sales consultants are afraid of being salespeople. They feel that people have a very negative opinion of salespeople, in general, so they prefer to be called consultants. They are the same people who are afraid to walk into a business and talk to merchants and would much rather have merchants reach out to them. They are the ones who consider themselves very professional, yet hardly generate any business. Here are some other characteristics of sales consultants:
- They are the ones who are more concerned with the marketing material than with getting in front of merchants and speaking to them.
- They are the ones who get the run around from merchants because they simply don't have selling skills, and refuse to learn.
- They are the ones who are almost impossible to train because they think they have a better way.
- They are the ones that ask if we have warm leads.
- They are the ones who prefer a salary over commissions.
- And worst of all, they are the ones who refuse to ask for the close because they don't want to sound like salespeople.
It may sound like I'm bad mouthing consultants, but I'm certainly not. They definitely have their place in our industry, and their place is to work for your competitors. In my company, we only hire sales professionals who are proud to be in sales, because the fact of the matter is that there is no greater or a more lucrative profession than sales. I want someone who understands that being self-employed is the ultimate job security, and is hungry for success.
What to look for in salespeople
I've spent more time teaching consultants how to become salespeople than I've spent doing anything else, and frankly, it's a task I will not undertake again, because the truth is that there is no shortage of good and enthusiastic sales talent out there, and with some direction and support, they can become superstars for you. So here are a few things that I look for when hiring a sales professional.
- Are you hungry: I'm not referring to someone who missed a meal. I'm referring to someone who is hungry for success. A person who is hungry for success is able to see the bigger picture, has no time for negative thoughts or negative people, and is committed to being successful in this endeavor. While a consultant asks, "But isn't it true that the merchant services industry is overly saturated, and there is too much competition?" a professional asks, "How much do your top agents makes per month?"
- Are you coachable: Good salespeople are coachable and eager to learn. They will absorb whatever information you sent their way like a sponge, because they just can't wait to get out there and make sales. Consultants will go through the entire training and then tell you how they would like to do it instead, and finally they will ask you if there is additional training available ‒ anything to keep them off the streets and away from actual customers.
- Are you willing to do the work: Everyone I speak with loves the idea of residual income. I have yet to meet a person who was turned off by it, but I meet people all the time who want the income but don't want to do the work. Consultants almost always fall into this category. Sometimes they believe they can reinvent the wheel and come up with a better plan. I wish they could, but I have yet to see one that worked.
Beware that even some salespeople fall into this category, so you have to determine if they have the self-regulation skills necessary to follow through on your plan, or whether they are people who get excited about every opportunity they hear about and are pursuing three different careers all at the same time. Motivation and self-regulation are keys to sales success.
- Integrity: Have they demonstrated to me a sense of integrity to reassure me that they will represent my company well. In other words, are they people I can trust to conduct business with the merchants while adhering to the highest level of ethics. The truth is that a very good salesperson does not have to resort to unethical tactics. It is also worth mentioning that consultants often boast about their high ethics, and while they may be very ethical, unfortunately, they are not sales professionals.
These are just some of the steps we take to ensure that we have a viable candidate. Once we have the right candidates, we train them and provide them with a plan of action. Remember, to quote John J. Beckley, the first Librarian of the U.S. Congress, "Most people don't plan to fail; they fail to plan."
Set yourself up for success: review your hiring strategies, employ the best sales professionals the industry has to offer and give them the tools they need to prosper. Leave the consultants for your competition.
Aaron Nasseh is the founder and Chief Executive Officer at Finical Inc. His extensive sales and management experience includes having previously served as the General Manager of CardPayment Solutions and Vice President of Sales at iPayment Inc. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 818-330-4055.
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