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What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)

 
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:19 PM   #1
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What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


I admit it. I need help when it comes to hiring the right people. I am having a huge turn over when it comes to salesmen/estimators. However I believe all failures are the responsibility of the management, that's me. I must be doing something wrong.

Last I went through 4 or 5 guys before I found one who stuck and he was doing pretty well until he developed a drug habit then it went down hill real quick.

I want to have 2 full time salesmen other than myself. This year I am already on my 2nd salesman. I had two full time but one quit giving me a bullcrap reason, which I consider an excuse. The other one who is still working is "fishy"... lots of song and dance which I have come to expect from "salesmen".

I worked for one company and they had good guys who came in every day and did their jobs with no bullcrap or drama... why can't I find that? I really need help in this department, but don't know what more I can do. I already compensate better than all of my competitors.
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Old 04-12-2006, 03:58 PM   #2
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Maybe the compensation is fine, perhaps it's just you. Don't ask me to explain this cause I don't know you, I'm just throwing this out. Are they able to draw from future sales for a avg. weekly pay check, or is it only on sales?

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Old 04-12-2006, 04:02 PM   #3
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmic
Maybe the compensation is fine, perhaps it's just you.
I was going to say its because you're too grumpy!
Seriously, it may be a sign of the times. Lack of work ethics across the board. Try to find a painter that isn't a drunk, will even show up, and (God forbid) speak English. I say just keep plowing on, and sooner or later, someone will come along and fit right in. I always hear:
"Hire slow and fire fast"
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:55 PM   #4
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by ProWallGuy
I was going to say its because you're too grumpy!
PWG beat me too it!

I wish I had some experience with salespeople that I could offer you. Keep trying!
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Old 04-12-2006, 05:16 PM   #5
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Tom, you know that this has been a topic since nearly the inception of this site.

The true salesperson is a bizarre animal, I live with one and have a few friends that are 'one of them'. They need to win all of the time and at the same time need to be stroked.

If you ever figure them out, let the rest of us know.
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Old 04-12-2006, 05:30 PM   #6
 
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


You need to quit getting your salesmen high in the morning so they won't have to leave to feed addictions. Had the same problem roofing years ago.
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Old 04-12-2006, 06:32 PM   #7
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Maybe, take a step back and view your situation from a distance to get a clean perpective.
Dont take it personaly, just keep trying until you discover whether its you or them. Maybe both. Just keep trying.
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Old 04-12-2006, 07:52 PM   #8
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


"Salesperson" is as broad a term as "tradesperson". A lot depends upon what your sales people actually do. My experience with roofing sales is that they are also expected to do some technical work (measuring, diagnosing problems, etc), so you really do not want a "salesperson", you want a roofer who is tired of being on the roof all the time and is good with people.

I am firmly in the camp that says it is better to train someone who knows nothing than it is re-train someone who knows everything. Hire a kid off one of your roofing crews who is presentable, personable and has some knowledge of the roofing and then teach him to sell. That will work much better than trying to teach a "good" salesperson about roofing.
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Old 04-12-2006, 08:02 PM   #9
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Well, I know you are doing an awful lot right!

So I'll just put a bunch of questions out there...

Are you prepared to let them earn more than you?

Are you setting them up for success or failure?

Do you lead them by example?

Do you manipulate them with your pay plan?

You said you compensate better than your competitors- are your sales people compensated better or do they have only the potential to be compensated better?

Have you exit interviewed the people you have fired or have quit on you? It would be better if you had someone else interview them other than yourself. 5 or 6 questions written down for someone else to ask them and record their answers.

Do you benchmark their success based upon what you could achieve or what they could achieve?

It could have something to do with you being are a lousy hirer? Or it could be to do with where your talent pool is coming from. I understand you like Craiglist for finding talent. Personally I haven't been too impressed with anybody that uses that list. I have had over 12 contacts from people seeing my help wanted ad on there and not a single one has yet followed through to submit my online employment questionnaire. They call, they email they email resumes all after being instructed on what to do which doesn't involve any of that. They tell me for 20 minutes about their DWI's and their problems... not a single one has been even remotely impressive in the least. One more big thumbs down on internet generated leads!

Anyways, if you really want some help you will have to explain in detail some of the answers to the above questions, because it impossible for any of us to know what is going on with you and your guys on a day to day basis.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:26 AM   #10
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmic
perhaps it's just you.
I agree That's why i asked "what am I doing wrong"
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmic
Are they able to draw from future sales for a avg. weekly pay check, or is it only on sales?
They are not able to pull draws. I tried this last year and lost my ass. THOUSANDS of dollars into a giant toilet. I can't afford to give draws if they are not selling and if they are selling they don't need draws. Pay out is every other week. There is No base pay other than their gas and expense re-imbursements. I am thinking this is what my problem is, however I simply cant afford the loss I experienced last year due to draws and poor salesmen burning my marketing dollars.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tscarborough
My experience with roofing sales is that they are also expected to do some technical work (measuring, diagnosing problems, etc), so you really do not want a "salesperson", you want a roofer who is tired of being on the roof all the time and is good with people.
Measure, estimate and sell. That's the job of my sales people. I try to run all the repair leads and let them deal with replacements. I do want a roofer who is tired of being on the roof and the last guy I hired who quit on the bogus excuse was just that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Finley
Are you prepared to let them earn more than you?

Are you setting them up for success or failure?

Do you lead them by example?

Do you manipulate them with your pay plan?

You said you compensate better than your competitors- are your sales people compensated better or do they have only the potential to be compensated better?

Have you exit interviewed the people you have fired or have quit on you? It would be better if you had someone else interview them other than yourself. 5 or 6 questions written down for someone else to ask them and record their answers.

Do you benchmark their success based upon what you could achieve or what they could achieve?

It could have something to do with you being are a lousy hirer? Or it could be to do with where your talent pool is coming from.
Last year my salesman did earn more than me and so did my production manager. I am ok with it so long as they are selling off my price sheet. The better they do, the better I do.

I certainly hope I am setting them up for success, but you are going to have to ask the question in different words.

I lead them by examplea s much as possible their first week is as my shadow. I put together a whole system and teach them how to use the system. So far this year I have been able to float our company minimums single handedly but I can't keep doing that myself.

I pay out a higher base than every single one of my competitors who I have researched. I also offer incentives to self generate leads and incentives to hit monthly sales targets. I offeed a free digital camera to the salesman who sold the most in March, but neither hit their minimums for March.

You asked if they are comensated better and the answer is NO, because they cycle through here too quick. The last guy who just quit on me... I have closed a bunch of his sales this week. He wasn't working my system and following up with the customers. I closed his sales with one simple phone call which they are trained to do.

I bench mark their success based upon what I have achieved, however I have toned it down adjusting for a learning curve. Like I said the salesman last year was doing well using my system until he got into the drugs. Then it all fell apart... but the point is he was using my system and doing well with it.

I think I am a lousy hirer (sp?) however I am not going to pay some firm thousands to do it for me and get the same poor results as I have been getting. I've tried many other services as well, such as a roofing magazine, but all I get calling are out of state storm chasers looking for the next big storm. I even tried the Chicago Tribune but lets say I got tons of totally not-qualified people applying, but didn't get a single qualified person apply.


So that's the summary. What else do you need to know?
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:39 AM   #11
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Let me elaborate on the comment about having the potential to earn more but not actually earning more. Using this sales system which is basically meeting each customer and making sure they fully understand in detail where corners can be cut and why it's important to not cut those corners, and basically just earning their trust and cinfidence, I was able to earn $71,000 for the year of 2003 which was my last year full time sales before starting this company. I even earned $55,000 in 2004 but only working for the first 9 months (sept 2004 is when I officially quit my day job and went to work for myself fulltime), had I worked the last three I would have been about the same since the last 3 months are the busiest. I also want to say that my commission was much less than I am giving my guys AND I was selling for about the same price.

I once worked for a company that had 14 salesmen, counting the 4 owners. Exclude the 4 owners and let's discuss their 10 full time guys. Their monthly sales ranged from $33k-$120k on average. They didn't really do anything for sales, bet were estimators and order takers. They would run 5-10 leads a day but not meet a single person. Estimates were usually mailed and they had no times for call backs unless the customer first called them. They sold on low price. However their sales guys would show up every day and do their job every day and most were successful at doing it. They never experienced the drama that I am going through.

The company made money on volume because they were running 10 crews a day. While I'd love to do their volume, I currently don't have that luxury nor do I feel like working their system of selling on low price.
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Old 04-13-2006, 09:52 AM   #12
 
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


"I certainly hope I am setting them up for success, but you are going to have to ask the question in different words."

I am no expert on employees, but out of all the responses this comment jumps out at me. IMHO I would take a hard look at your process and see if you can determine that answer. A few small adjustments could go a long way, not just $$$ related.

Your statement here leads me to believe that they are not leaving based only on the money.

"Last year my salesman did earn more than me and so did my production manager. I am ok with it so long as they are selling off my price sheet. The better they do, the better I do."
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:00 AM   #13
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Here is another thought. Do you think it's better if I set the appointments for my guys or allow them to set their own? I know when I was running sales full time I liked setting my own. I didn't mind having the occasional appointment set if I had enough advance notice but I usually had two or three days booked out with appointments. I figured I would give my guys this same freedom. I have spoken with guys who work for home depot and sears and they always have their appointments set for them, they said the problem is that usually the appointment setter has no idea of geography or travel times.
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:04 AM   #14
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmall
Your statement here leads me to believe that they are not leaving based only on the money.

"Last year my salesman did earn more than me and so did my production manager. I am ok with it so long as they are selling off my price sheet. The better they do, the better I do."
He left because of Drugs. I advanced him more than $3,000 and he wanted more and more and more and I put a stop to it. He was earning more money than I was but never had any money and was having a hard time even feeding his family. When I said No to his advance request and told him to bring me some deposites and I would advance more commissions he said ok but asked for gas money. I gave him $100 and never saw him again.

The one who quit on me a few weeks ago said it was because of money... but that was a bull crap excuse really. I told him, and everyone, I would pay his gas and cell phone expenses at the end of the month. The 29th of March was a Wednesday, I spoke with him on the phone and gave him some leads. On the 30th I spoke with him and also gave him more leads. Again on the 31st same thing. On the 3rd I called and no answer. On the 4th I called and emailed and he sent me back an email saying because I didn't pay his expense reimbursements he was quitting and I was taking advantage of him. During my process of call backs I learned he ran almost all his estimates up until Saturday, so something happened on sunday or monday to make him quit. He would have had a check in the office the next day he came to the office and he knew that. If it was really about the money he would have said something to me on the 28th-30th.
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Old 04-13-2006, 10:34 AM   #15
 
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumpy
He left because of Drugs. I advanced him more than $3,000 and he wanted more and more and more and I put a stop to it. He was earning more money than I was but never had any money and was having a hard time even feeding his family. When I said No to his advance request and told him to bring me some deposites and I would advance more commissions he said ok but asked for gas money. I gave him $100 and never saw him again.

The one who quit on me a few weeks ago said it was because of money... but that was a bull crap excuse really. I told him, and everyone, I would pay his gas and cell phone expenses at the end of the month. The 29th of March was a Wednesday, I spoke with him on the phone and gave him some leads. On the 30th I spoke with him and also gave him more leads. Again on the 31st same thing. On the 3rd I called and no answer. On the 4th I called and emailed and he sent me back an email saying because I didn't pay his expense reimbursements he was quitting and I was taking advantage of him. During my process of call backs I learned he ran almost all his estimates up until Saturday, so something happened on sunday or monday to make him quit. He would have had a check in the office the next day he came to the office and he knew that. If it was really about the money he would have said something to me on the 28th-30th.

Thats what I said, $$$$$ is not always the issue. Something is making your guys leave and honestly the only guy who can really determine why that is happening is you, or someone who knows your business very well.

Good Luck
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Old 04-13-2006, 12:41 PM   #16
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmall
the only guy who can really determine why that is happening is you, or someone who knows your business very well.

Good Luck
If I could figure it out, I wouldn't be asking LOL.
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Old 04-13-2006, 01:20 PM   #17
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Hey Grumpy,

I'm new to contracting but have 20 years of sales/sales management experience. A few things struck me as I read through this thread: you need to retain the talent you have and you need to screen new talent better. There are a few key areas:

1) Training
-------------
As a salesperson I used to think: "Why don't they give me more training? The first week was great, but now I get nothing!"

As a sales manager I used to think: "Well I gave them a great start that first week. Now I'll just do some follow up stuff with them, say 4-8 hours every month or so." (Unfortunately that thought pops up after about month 4, usually as Oh *****, I gotta get my butt out there with these people!")

Solution - plan on follow-up training time with your newer people. Go on sales calls with them for a day every couple of weeks for the first month, then once a month after that. BUT...don't take over the sales call - let them do the talking. You are there only to evaluate and coach. Do a post mortem after the calls and talk about what went well and what needs to be improved.


2) Interviewing
---------------
Stop looking for "salesmen" and start looking for sales professionals - there is a difference (..and we HATE being called salesmen). It is a subtle change in mindset but there is a big difference in perceived respect.

I was a terrible interviewer because I was too busy selling the candidate on what the company was all about. Then I found a website called justsell.com - it is a gold mine of practical information on how to find, interview, train and motivate sales professionals.

Solution - Use the lists and tools on justsell.com to tweak your sales processes. The list of interview questions on the site is excellent and helps you maintain a structured interview process so that you are now comparing apples to apples across all of your candidates.


3) Motivation
--------------
Teetor hit the nail on the head earlier - we have a high need to win (that's what makes us good at selling) and we have a high need for stroking (because we have a high need for affiliation and acceptance - that makes us good at networking because we like being around people).

That is a tricky combination to manage on an ongoing basis, but you need to understand those basic personality elements to be able to manage the person effectively. It isn't just cash that motivates us - we also have a high need for recognition.

Solution - Celebrate the successes as often as you can and you will create a more positive atmosphere. Find something positive to praise your salespeople for at least once every 7 days.


4) Find out What Is Wrong Now
-------------------------------
It takes a lot of guts for a manager to be willing to look at themselves as the potential root of the problem. You sound like you have already beaten that hurdle - good for you!

Solutions - I'm assuming you do still have a salesperson or two left? If so, do a Start/Stop/Keep exercise with them about your company: from their point of view, what things should the company Start doing, Stop doing, and Keep doing? It is simple but extremely effective in getting our the issues that are bugging people. Once you have done this for the company, it is time to turn the focus on the individual and have the sales professional complete the same exercise for their own activities.

Another option would be to have someone independent from you but linked to your company perform exit interviews with one or more of the people who have left - these may help you find what is behind the departures.


Sorry for the long post, but I am thinking this issue is not confined just to your firm. Hope this is of help.

Cheers
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Old 04-13-2006, 01:41 PM   #18
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


That's not true about the nothng training. I give them access to piles of manufacturer training videos but most choose not to watch, unless I sit them down and press play. Also I ask them to call me after every call witht he customer so we can discuss and I can make suggestions. I am very big on training both in customer service and in technical data... I also sign up for every free seminar and trade show that comes my way.

Also I meet with them once a week to again go over each estimate and see where things stand and suggest possible ways to close. However I will try to do the occasional "tag team" sales call and shadow them.

I dont see a difference between salesmen and sales professionals other than a word. Maybe you can explain batter what the difference is.

Thanks for that website link, I will check it out immediately after I have finished typing.

There was some great advice especially about the exit interviews.


Let me explain how I currently interview potential candidates. First off I demand some kind of written history of who that person is and their experience. I call it a resume. I am saying this because only half, or less, of the people who call to apply will ever send a resume. I dont even want a formal resume, a simple fax or email with contact information with their name, skills, and past work history is enough for me though a resume suits me as well.

When I speak with them after reviewing their resume I start by asking them a few questions, that their resume might not have answered.

Tell me about your sales experience - specifically your experience in selling construction products to the end consumer.

Tell me about your outside sales experience, how often were you in the office and how did you communicate with the office? (Answer) How was that for you?

When you did your outside sales, how independently did you operate? (Answer) Did you create your own schedule?

Can I ask you, what about our ad/posting prompted you to respond to it?

Do you have your own vehicle which can be used for business purposes?



After our conversation if I like what they have to say I willw ant to schedule a face to face. During this face to face I really try to get to know them and understand their mindset. I want to make sure they are a good fit for the company. Plus I make them selll themselves. I try to sell them on who the company is, but I try to ask open ended questions so they are just not telling me what I want to hear.

What did you like and dislike most about your last/present job?

Describe your idea of the perfect job.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

What are your biggest assets? Why should I hire you?

What is your biggest character flaw? Why should I not hire you?

Why do you want to work with us?

How far would you like to go in this company?

What steps will you take to achieve those goals?

What do you expect to be doing in 5 years?

Describe a situation where a former supervisor criticized your work.

Describe a situation when you were told to do something you didn’t agree with. What did you do?


I will also ask some very specific sales questions.

How was your previous/present commission paid? Net gross etc… How would you expect to be paid?

What was your largest sale?

How much did you sell last month?

What motivates you to sell more?

What do you do if you don’t sell on the first sitting?

Sell me this pen.



Lastly I never hire on the spot. NEVER. My sales system is built around the call-back. Following up with the customer is how I close most of my sales, just reminding them that I am here and willing to work for them. So I make sure that the salesman calls me back and reminds me that he wants the job. If they don't call me back they don't get hired. PERIOD.
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Old 04-13-2006, 04:04 PM   #19
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


I can tell you exactly what it is Grumpy....you're not beating them enough!

You know the old saying..."The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

I know that's not really too helpful....but you never know.

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Old 04-13-2006, 04:34 PM   #20
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Re: What Am I Doing Wrong? (Employee Turn Over)


Tom, you're obviously doing a lot right, so it's not like I can point to one thing and say stop doing that.

The only thing I can recommend is for you to examine what you are doing and I can only point to some areas that might be causing you trouble and you will have to scrutinize them and over time you might see a problem there or not.

I can't emphasis enough that you have to manipulate sales people through their pay plan. Sales people will get themselves into trouble if you don't do what you can to keep them out of it. What does that mean to you? Who knows, just examine your pay plan and see if you can tweak it in ways that will promote sales people to stay longer and get them over rough spots.

I would look at your hiring pool and expand it as much as possible. Also I would try to poach some existing roofing salesman away from your competition. Why reinvent the wheel all the time with each new hire?

If it was me sales would be the last thing I put in somebody elses hands. Perhaps you can look at your business systems and tweak them where you get back in the field to sell and hire somebody to manage the jobs instead of the other way around? I know you like the sales person to manage the job, but maybe there is another way that allows you to sell and still have the jobs run smoothly?

The biggest solution and really the easiest one is to find out from the horses mouth why they quit. Like I said you might want a 3rd person to do the asking.

You could be hiring the wrong people right off the bat.

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At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

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