It’s no secret that storm restoration companies are sales-driven organizations. Don’t have a dialed-in sales team? Then you need to hire one. A sales team serves as the true backbone of any company. Without sales, the backend of the company (production, office, etc) will starve and the company will fail.
I’m an Account Executive with Albiware. I came from the realm of Storm Restoration, and in my five years in the industry, I sold over $8 Million in roofs and managed a sales team of 15-20 people at an 8-figure company. In other words, I know a thing or two about working in sales.
As the Sales Manager there, I recruited, hired, and trained every door-to-door representative I managed. The hiring process was always arduous and frustrating until I figured out a few hacks, which helped me find the right people for the job. I’m excited to share these helpful tips with you!
Have you noticed that hiring new door-to-door salespeople for storm restoration is difficult? Well, so has everyone else. Managing and creating a sales team with qualified individuals is one of the most common challenges owners, and managers face. Why do most people who apply to your sales job seem a bit… chaotic?
A person with a poor work history, unprofessional behavior, or difficulty managing are just a few of the traits you may notice during the hiring process. Before making changes to my hiring process, I noticed a major red flag. Less than 25% of my interviews showed up on time. During my time in the storm restoration industry – I heard this story repeated several times at different companies.
So why does it feel like hiring good talent is an uphill battle? I think there are several mistakes we make as an industry. Here’s what I did to build a successful sales team at an 8-figure storm restoration company.
I used to use this all the time, and I see it in almost every storm restoration job posting; “Freedom to work on your own schedule!” or something along those lines. Do yourself a favor and stop saying this phrase entirely! Otherwise, this will lead to issues with the employee down the line. The truth is that most D2D storm restoration salespeople do indeed work on their own schedule, but the mistake is using that to add value to the job.
I never thought about this until I was fighting tooth and nail with an underperforming rep who told me that he took this job because he would have the freedom to travel and do whatever he wanted. The lightbulb went off for me, and that was the last time I ever used that phrase. Otherwise, I would continue to attract people who only put in the bare minimum to pay their bills and live a lifestyle that allows them to work less than forty hours a week.
If you were doing blind interviews before, now is the best time to stop. Below are the five traits I looked for in an ideal salesperson. If the person does NOT have all 5 traits – DO NOT HIRE THEM. Typically in our industry, we will hire just about anyone who walks in the door and is willing to knock on doors for commission only. In the long run, this is a losing strategy. By hiring reps who lack all five qualities, you run the risk of building a large sales team that is perennially average or below average. You’ve heard the say before quality is better than quantity. That motto applies when you want to add someone to your sales team.
PRO TIP: Never give scenarios for the candidate to think about; this will just give them an opportunity to tell you what they think you want to hear. Instead, ask them about real-life examples. Feel free to change these up as you see fit!
WHY?: Knocking on doors for hours every day and being told no 90% of the time is not an easy job. It might be easy for some people to become discouraged by constant rejections. Ideally, you should find someone determined to grind it out every day and disciplined and consistent during their time in the field. Regardless of how many rejections they get, they have the "go-getter" mentality to stand back up and continue the grind. Once this type of person realizes the amount of work they put in is equal to their compensation, they will quickly climb the ranks to the level of top producer.
ASK: "Can you give me a real-life example of when you grinded out a goal you had for yourself at a great personal cost? Do you know what your "why" is to be successful?"
WHY?: People can be mean, especially when they have their door knocked on by someone they perceive as annoying them. If someone tells your rep to go pound sand (in not such nice words) they need to have enough grit to move on to the next door and not think about it again.
Ask: "Can you give me an example of when you had a horrible customer or person yelling at you and how you reacted?"
WHY?: Sales is all about the art of persuasion. Making someone buy your service and think it was their idea is the magic transaction every salesperson wants to achieve. If you can't quickly develop logical connections to the objections, you're sure to face in the field; you will struggle as a salesperson.
ASK: "Can you give me an example of a time when you convinced someone to do something they didn't want to do or a situation where they initially said no? How did you convince them?"
WHY?: Door-to-door reps who take no for an answer will virtually never close. Almost all customers say no initially. They will struggle in the field if they can't get past the uncomfortable social aspect of "ignoring" the no and continuing to ask questions.
ASK: "Can you give me an example of when a customer said no to you in the past? How did you handle that?"
WHY?: Confident people gain confidence from others. This indisputable fact is apparent if you look at your existing sales team or maybe salespeople at other companies. What is the common denominator for top producers in roofing sales? They are hyper-confident in their abilities. Remember, you're not trying to recruit average salespeople.
ASK: Find out what the candidate enjoys or is passionate about, then immediately challenge them on it and see how they react. Regardless of how you feel about what they said.
Candidate: "Well, Chris, I really enjoy camping."
Me: "Really? I think camping is so stupid. I don't understand why anyone would want to be outside with bugs and heat." If the candidate agrees with you, they probably don't possess the confidence quality you need on your team. The candidate should stick to their guns on what they like regardless of your opinion.
Many companies don’t set quotas because they are worried about their sensitive little salespeople not responding well to them. Quota should be a bare minimum goal. A good bare minimum quota for my team was 12 new deals a month. This roughly translates to 3 deals a week. Even if the representative has a horrible month, this should be easy for them to hit.
The best way to explain quota to your salespeople is to show how it can protect you and them. If they don’t hit the minimum quota, they’ll most likely not make enough money to live comfortably. If they can’t live comfortably, the role isn’t right for them. It’s that simple.
For you, the benefit of setting a quota is simple: you will no longer be wasting your time and energy on coaching sales representatives who aren’t top performers. You can devote your time to things that will be more fruitful for your business, like marketing and recruiting new candidates with the aforementioned traits mentioned above.
Hiring in this market is proving to be a challenge more than ever before. The best way to differentiate yourself from the competition in the hiring market is to offer great benefits to your sales representatives. In order to entice talent to work for you, you can offer health insurance, 401k plans, and a truck allowance or company-provided vehicle.
Should your company offer a base salary to your sales representatives? This is a debate that has been raging in the industry for some time now. I know of companies that have done both and were successful. At my previous company, we did not pay a base salary. The big fear for owners/managers is that if you offer a base wage to D2D representatives, they will sit around and collect a check without producing.
As long as you establish a minimum quota that aligns with the base salary and compensation plan and recruit new hires using the interview techniques I outlined above, you should have no problem with this. Look at it as another tool to get qualified elite talent in the door.
Setting base salary aside for a moment, you should do your due diligence on finding out what other companies in your area are paying their sales representatives. If you are way below Joe Schmo’s roofing up the street, you will have difficulty getting good candidates in the door.
The number one predictor of successful integration of a new employee is how well they acclimate to the requirements of the job. The simplest way to ensure they adapt is to have a documented and repeatable onboarding process.
Having your training protocols and SOPs dialed in will prevent you from spoiling a good candidate with the traits you’re looking for. Poor training can create bad habits from the very start. In order to have a five-star customer experience, your salespeople should be professionally representing your company. In my time in the industry, it boggles my mind to see how raw most roofing companies’ sales reps were.
To build a proper training process, you need to understand the learning curve for our industry. The learning curve can be massive depending on how much of the process your reps are responsible for. When I ran my training program with a new hire, it consisted of two weeks of training with a mix of in-field training and classroom time. The classroom time is something that I recognized a need for after training a handful of reps. I found that they would ask me basic questions unrelated to actual knocking, such as how our internal processes or how insurance claims work.
Do yourself a favor if you’re not going to spend the time coming up with a robust training plan. Get a training program for your sales reps. There are plenty of LMS (Learning Management System) options out there. I used Roof Strategist LMS and highly recommended having your new hires watch all the modules BEFORE you hit the field with them.
As soon as I started implementing these changes, I was able to identify the key players I wanted for my sales team. Over time, the team I put together was comprised of liked minded individuals that were driven and focused. Those are the people you want alongside you when you get to the finish line. I hope you find this guide helpful as you build a team that can lead your business to success.
As an Account Executive at Albiware and a former top-producing door-to-door sales representative/manager at an 8-figure storm restoration roofing company in the Midwest. Chris is also a licensed public adjuster. He is keen on educating industry professionals on process improvement and how to attain repeatable 5-star customer experiences.
Interested in learning more, have additional questions or if Albi is the right fit for your business? Connect with Chris directly through any of the options below