I have been working on the content we will be sharing with the attendees participating in our Construction Business Owner Education and Peer Group Program scheduled to begin in Bedford, MA in September at Middlesex Community College. One of the very important things that hands-on contractors who seek to become construction business owners need to get ready for bringing on sales staff to help the owner sell an adequate volume of work as the business grows.  Below is a 10 item checklist contractors can use to help them get ready for this critical step in the growth of their businesses. From my own experience of hiring my first remodeling salesperson many years ago number 10 is the most important.

  1. Make sure you already have a Marketing System already in place that generates enough quality leads for you and your new salesperson before you hire.
  2. Make sure you have decided on and have already implemented a Standardized and Documented Sales Process so previous customers and their referrals will enjoy a consistent experience and you can manage your new salesperson’s use of your system.
  3. Make sure you do a budget to determine the Markup and Margin you will need to sell and produce at to cover the cost of your new salesperson as well as the additional business overhead that comes with the changes.
  4. Establish Sales Goals and a Performance Based Compensation Strategy you can share with candidates as you interview them and your business will use once they are hired.
  5. Make sure your financial system is setup as needed so you can accurately measure produced gross profit margins on sold jobs. It should also be set up to help you and your new salesperson accurately calculate sales commissions earned.
  6. Make sure you have the ability to perform Estimated to Actual Job Costing so you can be sure jobs are being properly estimated by or for your new sales person. Commission based sales compensations plans are impossible without this ability.
  7. Be clear on who will do the Estimating and how it will and needs to be done (formatted) so your production team gets what they need to build sold jobs on their own.
  8. After you do all of the above write a detailed and clearly explained Job Description for your new salesperson position so you can use it to attract, evaluate and manage your new hire.
  9. Have Quality Audit Forms ready to go that you can use to capture feedback about your new salesperson’s performance from the prospects who do not buy as well as the customers who do buy.
  10. Establish the “Go-No Go Criteria” you will use so you have predetermined how as well as when you will make the absolute decision to keep or replace your new hire.

As I indicated above I decided number 10 proved to be the most important consideration after debriefing my learning experiences with hiring a first salesperson. As one sales seminar speaker once quoted at a seminar I attended early in my career: "Never carry an employee longer than his/her mother did!"
Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute, he speaks at industry events and consults with remodelers about owner issues, management, lead paint regulations and other industry issues. ShawnMcCadden.com shawn@shawnmccadden.com