On Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma impacted southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane bringing destructive winds and damaging flooding. Our sales territory was turned into shambles, and it seemed as though every homeowner and building owner in the area was scrambling for help. Within four weeks, we had received 26,800 requests for estimates or emergency repairs. At the time, our sales team consisted of five people who were completely overwhelmed. The immediate steps we took proved successful and led to more than 10,000 jobs. Here is how we transformed our sales team into a highly effective division.
The first thing we did was make our dedicated customer service representatives part of the sales team to help with customer communications, sales response and follow-up. A local Marriott hotel was all but destroyed after the hurricane, and many hotel employees were furloughed and left scrambling for jobs. We hired about 20 of them to join our customer service team. Customer service was once the place onboarding started for office positions, but now it needed to become the best-run department in the company. Here are a few of the key changes we made:
By far, the sales manager position is the most difficult and most important position to fill. These are the hardest-working, most dynamic individuals in my company. They must be disciplined, personable, relentless, eager and socially smart. To run a truly efficient organization, a company’s sales win rate should be between 40-60% and have the highest pricing in the market. To achieve this level of perfection, a sales manager works more hours than anyone else and is never off duty. Here are some of our sales managers’ key duties and responsibilities:
Recruiting and training
Despite traditional roles, I would never let a human resources manager hire a salesperson. Most new hires come from a sales team referral. We have found great success with recent college graduates who played collegiate-level team sports. One might believe it is because they are likely to have the desire to win, and that could be part of it. However, I believe the real reason is they are used to practicing.
We practice two or three times per week, and we need individuals who value training and use it at game time. Having no prior roofing experience is a requirement. Talent, work ethic and discipline are the main attributes we look for in a salesperson. Our training program takes about two weeks per roof system, two weeks for our processes, two weeks for our sales system and two weeks for shadowing. Because we install several types of roof systems, our training typically lasts 12 weeks before a salesperson is released to run his or her own leads. This is much longer than most sales training systems and is quite an investment. We believe the results are worth it.
As mentioned, sales managers are paid a percentage of what their sales team sells with no salary or base. Each salesperson is given a salary during training. It is ridiculously small and not something someone could live on. That pay level is maintained until their monthly commissions exceed training pay. At that point, they are moved to full commission. So often pay systems are made extraordinarily complicated and create confusion. Paying off the gross sales amount makes it easy to calculate and keeps the salesperson’s focus on the customer, not on how much money he or she will possibly make. We have been running this sales pay system since 2004 and believe it is the best compensation structure for sales.
The sales managers decide all marketing efforts. This is not to say our sales managers do marketing. Rather, sales managers must approve and have input into marketing campaigns. Because sales managers are out in towns, up on roofs, reviewing each won and lost job, talking to the sales teams, listening to estimate calls, talking directly to customers, pricing jobs, etc., they know what is working and what is not.
In my company, I run the marketing functions. Together, our sales manager and I meet every Monday at 9 a.m. for 30 minutes to review marketing projects and plans before meeting with our marketing agency at 9:30 a.m. This constant focus on sales and marketing prevents the blame game that can occur when goals are not met.
A stronger team
Through adversity comes strength. We are proud of our sales performance, and without strong sales managers, this would not have been possible. Most of the ideas I discuss were learned from the Rodney Webb Buy-Limbic Sales System, www.rodneywebbuniversity.com. I encourage you to consider implementing the system and see how it can improve your sales efforts.
For an article related to this topic, see “Under your influence.”