SpeakerNet News Compilations

Advice on Finding and Hiring a Salesperson

Bill Stainton

The good news is that I will pay a bright, shiny dime to the person who gives me the best advice on finding and hiring a salesperson for my speaking business. The bad news is that I’m not actually going to pay a bright, shiny dime.

— Brian Jeffrey

With over 40 years experience as a salesperson, sales manager, and sales trainer, here are my top 3 pieces of advice I can give anyone in your position:

  1. Hire a salesperson, not someone who wants to be in sales. You don’t have the time to waste training someone who isn’t already experienced.
  2. Not every salesperson can sell every thing. Hire someone with experience and track record selling intangibles. Ideally they’d have experience selling the services of a trainer or speaker. Barring that, any selling of services would be helpful.
  3. Don’t hire a part timer or someone who will be doing something else in addition to selling.

I had the good fortune of having an excellent salesperson work with me for over 10 years. We both made a lot of money.

— BIG Mike McDaniel

  1. set the standards in advance
  2. no work day longer than 5 hours
  3. no week longer than 3 days (work the productive days T-W-T)
  4. Use the ACT! program and you own the database.
  5. If in another city, you get a backup daily. Miss one day no pay.

Notes for a salesperson:

Don’t call [prospects] unless you have something to OFFER not something to SELL. Remember, it’s all about THEM.

Dale Collie offers a book he wrote, “101 Ways to Cut Meeting Costs.” Perhaps you could make a 10-pager: “How to use Jay Leno’s Meeting Attendance Booster Plan.” It must have value to be attractive as a give-away and something inside they can use.

Of course the book has your clever bio in it and maybe another offer. Deliver by download PDF.

Look at the big picture and work backward. For 24 bookings a year (if you work more than that you need to see someone) give away 480 books.

Nobody works 52 weeks a year, perhaps 48.

Goal: deliver 10 books a week. (10 x 48 = 480). Spend rest of time following up. (480 hot leads a year = 15 bookings) Duh! Salesperson can NOW ask all the right questions because the planner has your amazing free and valuable gift.

Pay a base weekly amount based on 10 books out — 10 books is a must, no excuses — plus pay a bonus for RFP or holds, and a bonus per gig booked. This keeps person from working too long, getting bored or burned.

Since you pay more than they could earn in a regular 40-hour week (yup), they can’t afford to leave or get fired. You win.

Figure all this for 15 gigs a year (repeats, past clients, direct referrals or anyone without the book delivery don’t count). Your cost will be less than $1500 per booking. Small price to pay to get 15 times your fee.

Here’s another thought: If you were selling coupon books on the phone, you pay per book, and bonus on achieved levels. But, selling a speaker doesn’t work that way so you pay big going in and inspect results daily.

You will know in two weeks if you hired the right person. If not, change immediately. You can’t afford to “wait for them to catch on.” The good ones can do it right out of the gate, the others have excuses. There is no middle ground.

You can even put that in your hire pitch: "We don’t know if we can work in this environment until we try. And if we try and it doesn’t work, we’ll both know and nobody will be upset if we stop!"

— Michelle Nichols

I’ve found that straight-commission isn’t enough. They need a base with a bonus based on how much biz they book and for all types of revenue — books, speaking, products, consulting, go-go dancing...

— Joe Sabah

I’ve done this a dozen times. Try them out for a week. Evaluate the results. Then decide: go or no go.

It’s worked for hiring people to book me on radio shows. I sit down with them for 30 minutes. They listen while I make phone calls and book shows and I listen while they make phone calls and book shows.

— Caryn Terradas

You have several choices when looking for a salesperson. The first decision you have is what kind of investment you are willing to make.

  • You can hire an hourly person to make sales calls for you. This works great if you can afford someone who is experienced in sales and capable in the industry.
  • You can find someone who is willing to work for commission only. This can also be effective, but you need to be prepared to share 20%-30% of your daily rate and 15%-25% of your back of the room.
  • You can use a company who works on a retainer. This will eliminate the issue of paying a commission, but you will have to write a check from day one.

No matter which direction you decide to take, let me stress one thing. Find someone who knows the industry. Speaking is unique. The more familiar s/he is with you and what you do for a living the better s/he can present you to a potential client. Experienced sales people are more likely to produce multiple bookings, pre-sell books and provide an excellent negotiation factor. Plus an experienced speaker “seller” will have his/her own contacts to introduce you to.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions