This is part 5 of a series of posts for a local newspaper.
Generating sales is the key to a successful business. Often companies offering mediocre products and services are successful simply because they are good at converting leads into sales.
Investing in your sales force is one of the most important aspects of any business, and could well be the difference between a good and a successful company.
This is not always easy for a small or struggling business, as sales staff can be expensive the long term commitment associated with employing staff may well not be the right strategic solution for the company. Employing part time or contract sales staff may well be a viable alternative, but beware, it is not that straight forward….
Any company’s sales force must fulfill some basic criteria:
- Product knowledge -Know what you are selling and know your company. Being unable to answer basic questions about your product, service or company will turn a potential customer into a critic in no time at all, and bad news spreads fast. Part time staff needs to receive proper training to ensure they can cover all the basics. They need to know about the company as well, as often the customer needs to be sold on the company as well as the product.
- Enthusiasm – If your sales rep is not exited about your product then how will customers be motivated into buying? It is said that some people can sell ice to Eskimos. This age old saying simply means that enthusiasm and energy can go a long way towards making a poor product seem very attractive.
- Professionalism – Sales reps are walking billboards for your company. Their behavior when selling is as important as their sale pitch. Often even when not on duty they are associated with your product, so choose carefully, as their behavior will often be the key to a customer buying into your company’s credibility.
The pitfalls when employing part time sales reps are plentiful. Some of these are:
- Making the quick sale – Sales reps are driven by commission, so for them the bottom line is making sales. It will come as no surprise then that part time or contract staff will be more interested in hooking customers on sales by making promises that may not be realistic – anything to get that quick sale, at any cost. This could cost your company significantly in the long term, as you reputation is being eroded.
- Loyalties and Priorities -Part time staff are loyal only to themselves, and need to prioritize their life according to multiple jobs. This often results in conflict, with clashing priorities and agendas. If you appoint part time sales reps then make sure you understand what their other commitments are and how this will impact on their ability to perform for you.
- Motivation – How do you motivate part time staff? Money alone will not do it. They need to feel a sense of pride in the product and company they are promoting, and it needs to show.
- Empowerment – Give your part time reps the tools to do what they do best. Train them on the products and services, and make sure they understand your company, its ethos and strategy. They will have to sell the company as well as the products.
Remember, part time reps may not be loyal, dedicated or motivated. This will show and will damage your reputation, so make sure you get the right people and give them the right tools to do their job.
Next week’s topic: 10 small business marketing tips (by guest blogger and web 2.0 entrepeneur FeistyFemale)