View Full Version : Sales employee expectation/deadline

Bunton Guy
01-12-2006, 04:28 PM
I hired a new sales person back in October 1st of 2005. He has been doing great with making new contacts and has brough in a decent amount of small projects.

He was brought on to bring in new commercial maintenance accounts and residential landscape installs. He has so far made alot of really great connections but since October has not signed any new maintenance contracts. I know the new season is upon us in something like 50 days etc...

How long would you guys wait? I keep telling myself he will bring in a load of new accounts right before the season starts. As of right now he is getting paid salary and no commision. I havent found a person who will work for straight commision only.

Do I wait until right at April to make a move? Do I cut him off now that he has had since October and has not brought in any new commercials?

I have talked with handfulls of larger companies and they will tell me everytime that it takes a long time and alot of following up before acounts are sold. I peeked into his folder and there is roughly 1,500 phone numbers all with righting next to them (im assuming calls he has made) everyday I call for a meeting with him and when I ask how things have been going I get the

" wide open man...ive made loads of new calls and new contacts & I think things are going great". I have heard that every week for 14 weeks. He is generally pissed at me because after he tells me things are going great I usually make the comment that " where is my paper" which he knows that means new contracts! am I to harsh? :gunsfirin

Bunton Guy
01-12-2006, 04:30 PM
He has plenty of motivation as his wife has their first child on the way she is due in July. He knows that with the new kid on the way he will need more money$$$ I keep telling him that before he will make more $$ he will need to bring ME more cheese!

01-12-2006, 06:28 PM
Getting on the phone and talking to people is one thing... Closing the deal and getting things done is another. I know many people in this world who can talk to anyone, but if they can't get the job done and the deal closed they are no good to you. I know in my area most commercial contracts will have already been signed by now. These are usually done in the fall. Hope this bit of info helps!

01-12-2006, 06:53 PM
Why not pay him a mix of salary and commision to give him an incentive to close sales, but also not leave him starving in the off months. This would obviously mean lower monthly salary, but you could also pay him residuals on contracts that he has signed and that you continue to service.

Az Gardener
01-12-2006, 06:54 PM
Ask him how many people have said no. If he says none of them he is not asking for the contract or he is talking to the wrong people or both. It is hard to start on straight commission but his salary should be reduced and be replaced with the commissions from his sales, I would have that talk tomorrow. Don't make it long and drawn out, just one closed deal next week period. Two the next week etc. After 14 weeks you should have seen some results, at least a residential L/S contract. Your not to harsh and you are not doing him any favors holding back. The sooner he begins closing some deals the better he will feel about himself and begin to make more $$$ If he fails at least he can move on with his life.

Bunton Guy
01-12-2006, 07:29 PM
That's the one thing that ticks me off...he dosent make any commision. He expects to get a higher rate of pay once he closes on accounts. That dosent make sense does it? For instance there is a set of 3 commercial complexes (factories) all in one contract. The bid is at $174,000...he expects his pay to go up in the nature of $1,400 more per month!! . I tried explaining to him that you get paid every week to do your job...selling that contract is your job there for you are COMPLETING your job...not extending outside of your job title performing miracle services!

As far as wether or not he has any for sure no's from clients...NO
He gets alot of people that sounds VERY excited to talk to him when they first make phone calls. He meets with them 2-3 time puts a bid in and then they get real quiet. They don't return calls and play hard to get.

I sat down with him around an hour ago and thats what he had explained to me was he was giving it all he had and that 80% of the people sounded like a for sure sale and then slowly fizzle out. He has been very lucky to 95% of the time get the price out of the client wether its competitors current bids or current invoice price. We generally are very competitive with their current budget.

For instance the week before X-mas I went with him to a local property management office (located inside a large commercial complex) They hated their current landscapers and desperatly wanted to change. We were within $100 per month of their current price. He was very happy with what we had to offer and sounded like he wanted to sign. He said he had to go out of town for business and would get back with us when he got back in town.
Still havent heard from him. Left 3 messages since the meeting before X-mas with no return calls, I find this a rude way to do business and aparently my sales man sees this alot.

01-12-2006, 07:57 PM
For a nice fat salary I would be glad to sit on my butt and make phone calls and call them "leads". I personally make leads everytime I speak to someone. But, if I had a lower salary with a 5% sales bonus on all new sales...that would be a different story. I think that I would try a little harder on the sale. Think about it... my salary is lower but if I close that 175,000 dollar sale than I get 8750.00 in my pocket and you get a new account that you should be able to keep for several years (If you do what your suppost to do). Not only will that push him to sell more, but it will also teach him to upsell those customers. Selling a customer is 95% of the effort and upselling a customer is only 5% of the effort.

I give all of our managers and even our crew leaders 5% bonus on all new sales. HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!!! My property maintenance and landscape crew leaders have the opportunity to knock on the doors of the all the adjoining neighbors houses and make sales if they're confident enough.

You've paid all that money for his salary and what kind of return on your investment did you get..... 0.

Bunton Guy
01-12-2006, 08:08 PM
So far the only return on my ' investment' is upsales...thats what I have gotten from him so far.

What would be a safe plan for paying out Commision?

01-12-2006, 08:34 PM
Just make sure the comission is tied to the period of the contract. He cant expect to get his entire commision the day after the contract is signed - you will run into a huge cash crunch if you do.

01-12-2006, 09:43 PM

You've got over a year invested. What do your feel is your Return On Investment in dollars? In percentage of increase of "upsells"? In increased exposure to potential customers?

There are several questions that you've got to answer and several I'd like you to consider.

When hired, did you express what type of accounts were the priority? If new commercial maintenance contracts were to be his primary focus he should have been gone before now. However, if no "focus" was mandated and he's been delivering on the other side, that brings up another question.

Do you have a higher profit margin on the smaller projects and do more of these types of projects increase the overall bottom line? Keeping in mind that your guys salary has to be factored into every job you do, is the return worth the investment? He must be doing something right or he'd have been history by now.

If he starts bringing in 6 figure accounts like the one you mention, you should consider an increase in salary, or some sort of bonus program. That is, when it becomes a regular thing, not once in a blue moon.

From your posts it there are a couple of possibilities as to the results being observed. He's missing buying signals, not proficient in overcoming objections, or not going for a firm close. You say 95% of the time he's getting you solid pricing information on the potential customer's current program. This indicates he's doing something right and his presence is a benefit to your company. Perhaps not in a "dollars right now" sense, but in a strategic way. You've gained a much clearer picture of what your competitors are doing.

What you've got to figure out now is how to capitalize on what you've got.

The week before Christmas is NOT a week to be making sales calls. Any positive ground made was lost over the holidays. Time better spent in that situation would have been a short "meet and shake hands, I'd like to set an appointment with you when you return to business the first of the year."

Don't be shocked at not getting calls returned. It's called "sales" and yes, there are plenty of rude arrogant, "I know more than you and I know you just out to screw me" people your salesman deals with every day. It's not an easy job.

He already knows your business and is providing it seems some positive input. You've just got to take a look at improving the close ratio.

Your thoughts?

La. Landscape Contractor #2576 (former Regional Sales Manager)

01-12-2006, 10:05 PM
I went through the same thing last year. I gave my salesman 50 leads within a 2 month period and he didn't land one job! This put us in a world of hurt come mid/end season. Do your self a favor and nip it in the bud. Start doing them yourself and wait to supply him with more until you see a return.


Bunton Guy
01-12-2006, 10:09 PM
Landscapepro- That's some good info!...before his first day at work we sat down and talked about the future of the company. I made it clear that I was giving him the position to expand the company into the commercial market. And along with that he was to keep in contact with current clients and make sure on a regular basis that they are satisfied with their services.

He has done 110% with keeping current clients happy. And has done great at upsales with current clients. Lacking severly with closing the deals! One thing that I have argued with him before about was the fact that he is to slow at getting a bid in...what I mean by that is when I was trying my hardest to sell as soon as I got a contact name and number I had called and gotten feedback wether or not they are interested in a bid. If they said that they bid out XYZ I had a bid on their desk in less than 7 days. In some cases my sales guy will have met with the person twice and still never proposed a bid. Verbally he has given them a price but nothing on paper. I think this is the wrong apporoach! (im getting amped about this now can you tell? )

He has a great track record that is why I hired this guy...he is a good man during work hours and a great guy off hours. He comes out and helps work on equipment on the weekends. He hasent asked for a dime for gas! and I know his cell phone bill has to be a Zillion dollars !!! never has he asked for any payback for fuel or cell phone minutes which I would be glad to help out with.

How do I go about putting pressure on him? he tends to look appauled (sp?) when I approach him about new contracts. I want to put the squeeze on him but everytime I bring it up he gets affended and tells me he is trying as hard as anyone can and that he has alot of pressure enough to motivate him (brings up child on its way due july)

01-12-2006, 11:11 PM

I wouldn't get hung up on "paper" in this case. If he's given them a price he has given them a bid. The piece of paper isn't the issue. Mind you I'm not saying that paperwork isn't important. It is. However, it amounts to "writing up the order" not "closing the sale."

I'll be up front that I don't do lawn maintenance. Perhaps "bids" for the service is how it's done. I would focus more on "selling the company and the quality of the service" over I bid lower than the other guy. What are the features and benefits of your company?

Have you considered getting this guy a laptop and a portable printer? If your "bid" form is loaded and all he has to do is fill in the blanks he can print one on the spot and get it signed. That is if he's made the sale on that particular visit. In most cases that isn't going to happen.

Sales takes a lot of showing back up as a rule before you "get the order". Is there an area of service for a potential new account that you can provide rather than "whole hog or none"?

Example: When dealing with a large commercial grower where I wanted the seed business, I'd ask for a couple of items. I ALWAYS advised the customer against giving me the entire seed order. I wanted to EARN his business. Would you be comfortable in letting me provide you with 10% of your total order? I'd like you to take a look at our Impulse Impatiens series. I've seen them come into flower 10 to 14 days earlier than the variety you currently have in production on a regular basis. Would shaving 2 weeks off your crop time improve your profit margin? Let's see....2 weeks times 5 turns on the bench, that's 10 weeks of "free" bench space just by switching varieties. Would you be comfortable in trying 20% of your Impatiens crop this year in Impulse?

That may not fit your situation per se, but hopefully you get the idea.

From what you've posted so far, I think your guy is more of a consultative seller. Bear in mind EVERY salesman starts on the lowest rung on the ladder with a potential customer.

First, he's just some guy that dropped in. Then when he keeps coming back, he's just a peddler. Once he's closed a sale or two, he becomes an occasional supplier. When he keeps showing up, he becomes a secondary supplier. At some point (but only with performance and effort) he becomes the "go to guy" and YOU not only have a customer, but a GOOD customer at that.

Find or create a portion of the services you now provide that allow him to move up the ladder. He's doing the ground work now. I'd try not to think of "squeezing" but more of doing a little molding. Let him know he's doing a good job at what he's doing first. Then the two of you decide how you can focus on the new maintenance accounts. Explain that you know he's under pressure with the new little one on the way. You'd like to provide him with some sort of extra income but landing some new maintenance accounts is going to be the key in doing so. I wouldn't discuss the "how" as far as bonus / commissions etc. just that he's got to help you help him by signing these.

Make sense?

La. Landscape Contractor #2576

Bunton Guy
01-13-2006, 07:39 AM
Mike thats some great stuff to read over...keep the ideas commin guys!

Bunton Guy
01-13-2006, 07:41 AM
I see what your saying with slow sale working his way from the bottom of the ladder to the top. It seems like once he gets closer to the top they get more difficult to deal with.

01-13-2006, 08:25 AM

Until he actually closes the deal, he's still a "peddler". The march up the sales ladder begins after that point. What do you think of his presentation skills when you go with him on a sales call?

La. Landscape Contractor #2576

Az Gardener
01-13-2006, 09:25 AM
Here is a different approach. Sales is a numbers thing you greatly increase your odds if:
Get to the decision maker, don't waste your time presenting to people who cant buy.
Don't be a unpaid consultant.
If you do get to a decision maker let them talk.
Ask open ended questions.
Find their pain, why do they need to change.
Repeat what they have told you, rephrase if possible (sounds stupid but it works)
Remind them of their pain, repeatedly.
Set a follow up appointment to present the bid. Be sure to let them know when you return with a bid you want a yes or no answer. If they need to get other bids make it a point to be the last guy in.
Call to confirm appointment and remind them of their pain, and that upon presentation you need a yes or no answer, none of this "I need to think it over". Take it away from them, you will be surprised at the look of shock when you pull you bid and tell them you are withdrawing your bid. Only happened once but it worked they signed.
If they can't commit to that arrangement don't waste your time.

Above all you need to be in control, don't let them dictate the sales process.

This is all stuff from a Sandler sales class that I attended for about a year. It has greatly helped me I waste a lot less time, the prospect respects me and sets a good tone for doing business. It is unorthodox and it takes some practice. I recommend some role playing practice and start with some unlikely bids to get familiar with the process. You have a valuable service and they need to realize they will benefit form hiring you. That dosen't come across when you are begging for work, pitching to anyone that will listen. Seek out the NO's they will get you closer to a yes. People are programmed that a no is a failure, its not its just a different answer, get them out of the way.