Where do you find good salespeople? First, you have to define “a good salesperson”. With no college curriculum or extensive certification process for someone to be called a salesperson, a “good” salesperson is a highly subjective definition.
Here’s the acid test for executives as to whether or not they know a person is a “good” salesperson or not: Can the executive make an accurate evaluation without looking at the sales numbers or track record- and will the sales numbers verify the executive’s decision to hire? Would an executive of a prominent electrical wholesaler hire a food server at a restaurant with the intent of making him an outside salesperson? John Walter of Walter’s Wholesale Electric did that very thing about twelve years ago.
As is the case with many business executives- particularly those close to the sales function- John Walter had his regular restaurants. One was Hof’s Hut in Torrance, CA. And as is also the case with many regular customers, John had a favorite server- Tony Estrada.
After some time, John realized Tony was more than a food server: Tony was a salesman. While many executives who had frequented Tony’s serving area had suggested Tony get into sales, no one had actually offered him a job. After all, Tony was only twenty-one and had no college degree. Who would offer him a job in sales? John Walter did. With the confidence built up from other customers’ comments about going into sales, Tony accepted the opportunity at Walter’s Wholesale Electric.
Tony started out in the warehouse- filling orders. He had to get the feel of the products he would be selling, like starting out in the kitchen of a restaurant. Then he moved to counter sales, working with walk-in contractors. Tony would ask questions about what types of projects they were working on so he could connect the products ordered to the type of project. Most importantly, he was learning about the contractor’s business and earning their trust. At Hof’s Hut, his attitude was to always put himself in the customer’s shoes: “How would I want to be treated if I were them?”
This sounds like common sense, but if that’s the case, why do so many salespeople and sales training programs focus on presenting features-and-benefits when they should be focused on learning what the customer needs and building trusting relationships? It’s a rather universal concept with successful salespeople, but so few executives realize this value and so few salespeople “get it”.
Because of his focus on the customer, most of Tony’s business is via referral- even in this down economy. Paying attention to customers, feeling their pain, being accountable, and most importantly- enjoying the interaction- these are the universal things that Tony Estrada took from the restaurant to the contractor world.
And the “bottom-line” result? Tony has been selling for Walter’s Wholesale for a little over ten years. Dick Benbow, Vice President of Sales at Walters, says Tony has produced- in terms of both gross sales and gross profits- in the top ten out of ninety-three seasoned veterans for the past five years running, earning a six-figure income. Apparently, John Walter knows what a good salesperson is when he sees one in action- and case of Tony Estrada, the numbers have proven his decision. Where do you look for salespeople? BACK TO NEWSLETTER