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Sanitary Maintenance



Tips On Hiring Salespeople

By CleanLink Editorial Staff

For this article, Sanitary Maintenance asked members of its advisory board for their insight and expertise on hiring salesperson. Here’s what they had to say:

When hiring salespeople, are you more likely to look for a veteran with experience, or a person new to sales?

Our founder and owner Mr. Berry gave me some good advice: “When hiring a salesperson, it is like making a big pot of soup. There are many ingredients that go in to it.”

I am open-minded to veterans and rookies. It is a matter of can they fit into our overall culture.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry Co., Canton, Mass.

When filling vacant sales positions we are typically looking for some sales experience.  Representatives that have cut their teeth and have developed a style are able to provide value to customers quickly. There is still a significant learning curve to the variety of products and services we offer so the sales experience piece for us is critical.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wis.


We’ve done both with varying degrees of success and failure.  It's usually more successful with the right person and personality regardless of experience level.
— Hank Josephs, President, Spruce Industries, Rahway, N.J.

Both. We look for the quality of the character; the rest are variables that can be added or tweaked. It is never about the quick fix.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

When determining what type of sales candidate will work best, it really depends on the market and the given opportunity. It could be a veteran with industry knowledge, a person with previous sales experience, or someone new to sales and the industry.
— Charles Wax, President, Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego


There are pros and cons to hiring either type of salesperson. A veteran comes with experience and potentially a book of business they can bring with them. However, they also carry-in possible non-competes, and sales habits they have developed from past companies that may not match with the culture of your sales team.

A new person comes with the ability to be molded into being the type of salesperson that you need and a high level of personal eagerness and fire. However, they also carry some inexperience, a higher training expense, and the fear that if trained well they might get headhunted or leave for a competitor who offers more money.

We look at every applicant based on how well they would fit into our culture rather then their experience level.  
— Eric Cadell, V.P. of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Ill.

As to hiring veterans or neophytes, we go in no particular direction. We’ve had great success with some veterans that have moved to the south to enjoy the beautiful weather, and we’ve had some failures with the same.
— Paul “Dutch” Owens, President, Gem Supply, Orlando, Fla.

In the past 24 months, we have considered both. There are inherent challenges with hiring someone who has been in this industry for a long time: they can have bad habits that are difficult to change, they can have legal issues specifically around non-compete agreements, or the most challenging of all, it is difficult for them to work within our system and do it the “JanPak way.”  
— Rick Fiest, Executive Vice President, JanPak Inc., Davidson, N.C.


Do you believe its better hiring a salesperson familiar with the jan/san industry but little to no sales experience; or hiring an experienced salesperson new to the jan/san industry?

It is very hard to explain the jan/san industry to someone with no experience. I can speak firsthand on that one when I reflect on my career. But, again I come back to the "cooking the soup theory." At H.T. Berry, we just hope we find the right ingredients.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry Co., Canton, Mass.

We tend to lean toward hiring experienced salespeople new to the jan/san industry; however we will exhaust all avenues in searching for the right people for a sales territory.

We certainly have representatives that have grown through the business into sales. Sales experience is a real plus as these individuals get on board and build relationships with customers. Skills to provide business value early in the relationship process lets the customer know they are dealing with an individual and company that will be around as a business partner.
— Mark Melzer, President, NASSCO, New Berlin, Wis.

We’ve done both with varying degree of success and failure. It depends more on the person than the experience. Both ways have their benefits and drawbacks.
— Hank Josephs, President, Spruce Industries, Rahway, N.J.

Some understanding of what we do usually helps in shortening the preparation/training period. In some cases undoing bad habits takes longer than starting with someone with no sales experience.
— George Abiaad, President, Royal Corp., Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and again, it depends on the marketplace and what you are trying to achieve.
— Charles Wax, President, Waxie Sanitary Supply, San Diego

Similar to the last question the same pros and cons apply. We have found that salespeople that have come out of the financial-type sales are not good candidates for the commodity sales arena. More than likely it is better to hire those with past experience and train them in jan/san rather than the person with no sales experience.
Part of sales experience is attitude and personality; it is hard to teach someone to be a salesperson. There has to be something in their blood for them to succeed at it.
— Eric Cadell, V.P. of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Ill.

We've recently hired three new sales people with no jan/san experience and they are working out well. Having the ability to communicate and sell is the key; product knowledge seems to be easier to teach than the selling part, and our vendor partners are critical to their success.
— Paul “Dutch” Owens, President, Gem Supply, Orlando, Fla.

posted on: 6/20/2012







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