Competing for Talent

Many dealers tell us they can’t find good salespeople. The truth is many companies are not competitive or current in the marketplace, thus they struggle to attract the new generation of salespeople with the same techniques used on previous generations. The days of the 1099 contractor seeking a straight commission job are over. Today’s salespeople are out there in abundance, but you should use the correct lure.

Is it worth the effort? You bet. The new generation of salespeople is very active. Young employees go out at night and talk to their friends about their jobs and about water. This could result in additional sales or new staff recruits. But most importantly, they relate well to today’s consumers.

In recruiting hundreds of salespeople for our clients, we have become familiar with today’s young employees. The following tips will help you attract and motivate this young sales force.

Salary vs. Commission

Today, unemployment is at an all-time low. It is so low that many experts say it is at an impossible level. People who don’t want jobs have them. Average salespeople today receive about seven job offers when they send out resumes. If you don’t offer a salary, you could end up with the bottom of the barrel—the applicants the other six companies have turned down. We suggest a salary based on doing demos, perhaps $35 per demo performed. The salary should equal about 30% of the total pay plan.


Benefits today are even more important than salaries. If you don’t offer benefits, you will most likely attract people with nothing to lose—like the 40-year-old drifter living in his parents’ basement. We suggest you offer a benefit plan that starts after 90 days, so that if the new employee doesn’t work out, you won’t be paying benefits. Regardless of current rate hikes, benefits can be surprisingly affordable. Ask your local chamber of commerce about group plans.


A cool car, phone and computer are certainly attractive to the new generation of salespeople. And they are even more attractive if they come with the job. Just keep in mind that it can’t be a car older than the staff. We recommend you offer a car with great advertising and graphics, not just a sign or your company logo. It may seem expensive, but you can lease a one-year-old Chrysler PT Cruiser, for example, for about $199 per month.

Most dealers report getting far more than $199 worth of visibility and advertising value. Some make the vehicle free to the employee if the salesperson accomplishes 32 demonstrations per month but charge an employee who does less. This not only makes your company attractive, but it serves as a hook in keeping better employees. If they leave, they lose all the perks, which have a much greater perceived value than your cost to offer them.

Understanding Young Salespeople

They won’t cold call. Today’s sales- people consider themselves professionals. Many believe cold calling is beneath them and not in line with today’s consumer buying behavior. They will not cold call, but they will follow a system of warm calling such as the one we outline in our DVD, “How To Get All The Leads You Need Without Cold Calling.” You can also send them to attend the corresponding training live in Orlando, Fla., at the Water Quality Products Sales Seminar coming up this fall.

They travel in packs. Today’s salespeople are friend- and family-oriented. You will do a lot better if you hire two or three friends and let them work together. Also, invite their families to awards dinners, picnics, company sports activities and other community events. We know this sounds less than appealing if you are 50 or older, but try it; you’ll be amazed at the results.

They need clear instructions. If you have certain priorities, be specific. Don’t assume they know the order in which you want things done. This generation of salespeople performs best with clear instructions.

They can be cynical. Never say or do anything that can be considered the slightest bit underhanded. Today’s salespeople suspect most businesspeople to be unscrupulous and will beat a hasty retreat if an owner or manger compromises integrity.

They want optimistic leaders. We have discovered an odd thing about many of our clients. They sometimes reveal matters that should be kept private and ideas that are pessimistic. Never let younger salespeople see you as anything but a confident leader. Never tell them you have lost money in your business. Always be an optimistic leader who knows the system that leads to success. Do not show fear or reveal a lack of confidence.

They want to have fun. You have to combine fun with work for today’s salespeople. Contests, meetings and prizes all help keep them interested. All work, all the time bores them easily.

Staying Competitive

In business today, we need to be competitive. We are not just competing for market penetration or customers, but also for talent. As owners or managers, we are competing for the best employees. You have to ask yourself: Are you competitive as an employer? Are you and your company attractive? Is there a pool of great candidates waiting for a job opening to work for you?

Our Future is in Our Youth

We all need young salespeople. We won’t catch them with 20-year-old pay plans and management techniques. We have proven the new generation makes great salespeople with the latest training and coaching techniques, and relates well to the new generation consumer. A current-day management system, pay program and optimistic company culture will attract a pool sof great salespeople to meet today’s discerning buyer.

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