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    12 Replies Latest reply on Jul 1, 2009 10:04 PM by here2helpu

    Need Independent sales people - How to go about it

    cjblovesmusic Newbie

      I joined today and saw a post on this question, but it wasn't completely answered so I'm asking again. Hope nobody is upset. :)

      I'm running a for-profit business that is soon to begin broadcasting a short weekly radio show (or 2). I need sales personnel to solicit media sponsors. Since we don't have any money, I would like for the candidates to work on a 1099 basis with commission only. How do I interview and select quality candidates?

      The other questions are the same. Should I create two separate posts for these?


      How much compensation should I give them?


      What documentation do I need to prepare and provide?


        • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Welcome to this web site. Looking for Sales people.
          You said that you will be broadcasting. So broadcast for HELP.
          If you are on the radio, ask your listeners if they want to do sales work.
          Have you every interviewed or been interviewed.
          Be careful and pick the best.
          • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
            Lighthouse24 Ranger

            It sounds like you are talking about "Direct Sellers" which are Statutory Nonemployees -- meaning they are self-employed for all Federal tax purposes (including income and employment taxes) and that all payments for their services will be based on sales or other output, rather than the number of hours worked.

            You will need to prepare and have them sign a written contract stating exactly that -- that they will not be considered or treated as employees for Federal tax or any other purposes.

            I recommend a sliding scale for commission payments, because that's what would seem to best reflect your business model. To illustrate, let's say you have to sell 60 percent of your ad time at market rate to cover operating costs, and that you have 4 direct sellers working. Each would need to sell 15 percent of the ad inventory for you to break even, and a base commission rate should be attached to that. Once each of your sellers hit that quota, they would be selling a part of the ad inventory that's pure profit for you -- so you could pay higher commissions (the more they sell, the bigger their cut) and provide a greater incentive for them to work cooperatively and to sell out the entire inventory of advertising airtime (maximizing their income and your profit). It would also allow you to put unsold inventory up for bid at a reduce rate if your sellers fell short.

            The best predictor of success or failure in a direct sales job is not what the person tells you he or she knows, but rather what he or she has actually done in the past in similar situations. What skills will your direct sellers need? What challenges will they face? Don't just ask if they have the right skills -- ask questions that force them to give specific examples of how they applied those skills in the past. Don't just ask how they might address a future challenge (this only tells you that they know what they're supposed to do, not they they actually do it) -- instead, ask about similar challenges they encountered in the past, and have them talk in detail about how they handled those challenges. People without the right experience will only have vague and general responses, while those who have been there and succeeded will be able to give you specific examples that "ring true."

            Hope this helps. Best wishes.
              • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
                SJCarpentry Wayfarer
                Based on our experience, I would give you 3-4 suggestions

                1. Based on your business type - digital downloads of christian indie music (you should write a story on how you got into that business, it's pretty unique), I would see if you can go to someone who runs one of the major churches in your area and see if they could recommend some independent salespeople who might have passion around your work who can help you with this. Secondly, I would ask the same people at the major churches if they have contacts at major media companies that you could pursue as leads

                2. Secondly, I would go to the major trade publication for radio advertisitng websites and see if I could find any good leads on independent salespeople

                3. Finally, I would maybe approach any talented women you know who gave up their careers to stay at home with kids and see if they want to do this part time. Seems a good opporutnity for a personable, dynamic mom who might support your mission.
                1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
                StrategyCoach Newbie

                Finding a Sales Person: 1. Networking works
                2. Posting on the web works

                Qualifying: You need a 3 prong system in place and follow it for each and every hire.

                1. There are a number of valid and predictable assessments you can use that will tell you the candidate's strengths and weaknesses as they apply to every part of the sales process, i.e. greeting, demonstrating, prospecting, closing, etc.

                2. Next, behavioral interviewing techniques are the best interviewing style.

                3. Then conduct background and drug tests.

                I agree that you will need a contract and a good commission. Either a set or sliding fee will work. Probably set leaves less room for misunderstandings, etc.

                Regards and Happy Hiring;

                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
                  stukie Newbie
                  Hi Simone;

                  I understand your concerns and fully agree with your decision to take the hiring of any employee, most especially a sales force, seriously. The ability to hire the right people is extremely important to the wealth and profitability of any organization. People are the organizations most important investment and you cannot afford to hire the wrong people, especially when they will be representing you and your reputation will hang on their performance.

                  Sucessful companies believe (and I teach) that having one or two extrememly successful sales reps will generate long term succes far more readily and "safely" than having a large sales force with limited training or experience. It is a pitfall of many companies who hire on commission to take everyone they can get -- after all, it doesn't cost them unless the sales rep performs, right? Wrong! Having the wrong person representing you can cost you far more than you realize.

                  Exceptional people are hard to find, but they do exist. I teach a course called "High Payoff Hiring" in which we walk participants through five steps fo hiring:

                  1) Evaluating the Process
                  2) Preparing for Effective Hiring
                  3) The Interview Process
                  4) Making the Hiring Decision
                  5) Managing the Process

                  It's not nearly as complicated as it seems, the whole course only takes about 2 1/2 days, but I will give you the gist of it...

                  Wait for the best individual(s). Although the process may take longer now, it will save time and frustration in the long run. And it is in the future, when you are spending 90% of your time working your growing busines that yo uwill have the least amount of time to devote to this process. Pay your dues now, and your payoff will be greater, and sustainable.

                  1) Evaluating the Process

                  Assess your hiring skills. If they are not up to par, consider hiring an agency or another individual you know to do your hiring for you. Believe me, it will pay off. The best potential hires are interviewing you while you are interviewing them. If you cannot convince them you are on topof the game, they will not accept your offer. Especially for commission only.

                  You must analyze the cost of making hiring decisions.

                  You must determine your chosen selection criteria. Don't just wait till someone comes along that looks and sounds right. You need to pre-determine what you want, in writing, and place a weight on each criteria (say, 1 to 5, or even 1-10). During the hiring process you will fill out the criteria form for each potential hire, making it much easier to see at a glance who is best suited for a call-back, or offer.

                  2) Preparing for Effective Hiring

                  Create a knockout job description. This is creative work. You must adequately describe the position, while at the same time making it sound exciting, fun, and with commission only, lucrative. But, you have to also make it real. Are you interested in finding a soul-mate for your business? If you are a one-person show, and your company is very small, you will benefit the most from someone whom you can invite into your "family." This person will learn as much as possible about who YOU are, because YOU are who the sales rep will be selling, not your show. People don't listen to talk shows for the content -- they listen because the right person is spewing that content over the airwaves. Yes? YOU are the brand, so your sales rep had better love you to death and buy in 100% to what you are offering. Otherwise, the saavy consumer will see throug him/her.

                  Determine the most effective way(s) to recuit your candidates. My "off-the-top-of-my-head" thoughts would include hanging out at the broadcast media department at your local college. These kids not only need the money, but they obviously love the industry, they are young, vivacious (shy kids don't do public performances) and they are willing to learn and grow. Find a student you can mentor -- take under wing -- maybe even offer a guest moment or two on your show... that's the kind of relationship that will make it easy to sell you to the public.

                  3) The Interview Process

                  Prepare, Prepare, Prepare...

                  You have your job description (and so do your prospects), your selection criteria form for each candidate (already partly filled out from applications), you're dressed to show you are a professional, but also a real chum to work WITH (not for -- this is a working partnership -- you will be sharing profits, as opposed to paying a wage -- this is quite empowering to the candidates -- it gives them the impression there may be a future with you), a copy of your print ad, if there was one, that was answered, or the flyer you posted at the college, or whatever you used (if it is a radio or tv ad, have the script handy), and the candidates' resumes.

                  Use these props. Especially the ad copy/flyer/script. That is one of my favorite tests for a new candidate, "What is it about this ad that made you send in a resume?" Not only do you get valuable feedback to improve your ad copy, but you find out what makes your prospects "tick" as well. If they answer, "I need money," well, the interview can pretty much end right there, yes?

                  Take meticulous notes during the interviews. No matter how bright you think you are you will NOT remember who said what after a day or two of interviewing. Your brain will become mush after only a couple hours and you will need those notes. List out all the pertinent skills and professed talents, experience and abilities. You will assess these and add the information to your criteria forms after the interview is over.

                  Oh, and do not schedule them back to back. Skip every other one. It will give you time to digest the propect that just left and complete your notes before another takes your attention away from the task.

                  By being organized, having thorough interview questions, as well as solid reference checks (before you invest in an interview), you will be more prepared to weed out the wrong people. Here are a couple organization tips:

                  Create a job file. This helps you keep all your info in one place. Place in it a copy of your job description, key criteria check-list, any coorespondence from an agency, should you use one, and the ad copy.

                  As the resumes start coming in, attach a blank note page to each.

                  As mentioned above, take meticulous notes throughout the entire process from the phone interview all the way to the offer.

                  Reading/interpreting resumes:

                  Think about what you will look for when reviewing these resumes (have this decision firmly in mind before you begin the review process so you remain focused). Save all the resumes until the time alloted for submissions has closed. Do not review them as they come in. External factors will cloud or bias your thoughts and you will not have a consistant review record. You are more likely to spend the same amount of time on each resume, also, which again leads to fair practices. Also, you will be able to more easily compare candidates' qualifications this way.

                  Review the job description before reviewing the resumes also. Focus on the skills that are a priority and don't allow skills that are not important for your position to impress you. It might be cool to meet the former high-wire trapeze artist, but that hardly helps him sell your radio show (or does it?)

                  The "look" of each resume might be different, but the content is all generally the same sort of stuff. Try to pay attention to these areas in order to narrow your search:

                  Overall appearance
                  Reading ease
                  Grammatical or spelling errors
                  Ease of understanding
                  Applicants' skills compared to the priority skills in the job description,
                  previous work experience compared to the job requirements in your description,
                  similar job titles, and
                  action verbs that compare to your job description.

                  NOTE: Resumes that contain detailed information about previous work as well as achievements typically reveal higher quality candidates than those that provide vague descriptions.

                  Red Flags on resumes:

                  Job hopping
                  Non-relevant experience
                  Vague job descriptions
                  Unexplained gaps in employment
                  Inconsistent information
                  No description of results or accomplishments
                  No job advancements
                  Too much personal information
                  Add your own here....

                  Remember, most states require you keep all resumes on file for a certain amount of time (law) so check with your state to see what the requirements are. It's also helpful to do so, though, because if choice A turns out to be the wrong choice, perhaps choice B will not. You may not have to go through this process again for some time, if you end up with a decent pool to choose from.

                  The phone inteview:

                  This is the post-resume, pre-face-to-face interview step. The phone interview should be shorter than the face-to-face -- don't get caught up in interviewing the applicant this way. This step is ONLY to determine if the applicant possesses the characteristics you are looking for. If you do not have a large applicant pool, you can easily skip this step.

                  1) Introduce yourself by title and state the name of your company.
                  2) Let the applicant know you are responding to his/her interest in the advertised position.
                  3) Ask if he/she is still interested in the position.
                  4) Inform him/her that you want to conduct a short phone interview, and ask if this is a good time. Remember, if you are not "good" at this, get someone else to do it for you -- but as a radio show host, you will probably be a natural at it!
                  5) If not a good time, set an appointment to call back.
                  6) Proceed with your questions.
                  7) Ask applicant if he/she has any questions.
                  8) Remember to thank him/her for taking the time to interview with you (politeness goes both ways and sets an example for the behavior you expect from him/her).

                  At this point you should either

                  a) Invite the applicant for a face-to-face interview, or
                  b) Let him/her know that if he/she is selected for the next phase of the interview process, you will be in touch.

                  Time management is important in a phone interview. You do not want to be chatty or off-subject, and you do not want a sales rep who is unable to refrain from such behavior either. If you simply cannot get them off the phone, that is a red flag, too. This step is meant to reduce the total time spent on the interview process, so don't waste it on the phone. Keep it simple, to the point, and focused on the pre-determined questions.

                  Remember too, if you schedule a face-to-face during the phone interview, you need to let the applicant know what you want them to bring with them, if anything (clean copy of resume, letters of reccommendation, citations and kudos, references, etc...) Be sure he/she knows how to find you and when to be there. A tardy applicant is another red flag.

                  The face-to-face interview:

                  Your primary role here is to convey several key points about the position. Be sure to include:

                  What the job entails
                  The skills you are loking for
                  Background about the company
                  Benefits (financial and future advancement)
                  Pay scale and format
                  Working conditions and hours
                  Transportation or other requirements that the applicant must get for him/herself

                  Build rapport:

                  Greet applicants by name. Introduce yourself by name and title. Smile. Firmly shake applicants' hands. Explaint eh structure of the interview (put them at ease - no surprises). Inform applicants' of the objectives you hope to reach through these interviews. Let them know about how long the interviews will take. Make a bit of small talk to put them at ease.

                  Gather Information:

                  Take notes to refer to later. Ask questions concerning their resumes. Gather specific information you made note of when perusing the resumes (remember the blank notepaper?). Use the job description to ask questions specific to the necessary skills. Ask my favorite question, "What is it about this ad that persuaded you to apply for this position?" Be sure to include both basic questions as well as behavioral-based ones. If answers are vague, reword the question and ask it a little later in the interview.

                  Give Information:

                  Provide applicants with company background and info about the position. Explain the duties of the position and what the job entails. Use your job description as a reference to be sure and include all the details.

                  Closing the Interview:

                  Give applicants an opportunity to ask questions (remember you are also being interviewed by them). Thank them for their time. Inform them of the subsequent steps in the process. Look over your notes after they leave and jot down any clarifications or half-finished thoughts before your next interview arrives.

                  Questions to expect from good applicants:

                  What is the working environment like?
                  What are your expectations?
                  Is their room for advancement or pay increases?
                  How often will I receive a performance review? (The new age of employee is big on this -- I can hook you up with a template if you need one)
                  What kind of training will I recieve? This is the tough one, again, give me a call and I will see what I can hook you up with.

                  Funadmental Questions (Basic ones) and their purpose:

                  1) "Why are you leaving your current position?"
                  Gain insight into what type of work environment your candidate does or does not like. If they are currently unemployed, find out why they left their previous position.

                  2) "Explain for me your previous work experience and how it has prepared you for this position?"
                  Allows you to decide if they possess the qualities needed and help determine if their previous experience has helped to prepare them for this job.

                  3) "What are you looking for in your next position and how does it relate to your long-term goals?"
                  Assess whether your position will meet their aspiratoins and give you insight into their future plans and how committed they will be to you.

                  4) "What are your greatest assets that you would bring to our team?"
                  Gain insight into their confidence level and their own assessment of their skills. Sales reps must have self-confidence and believe in themselves or they will never sell to others. Also, this question can forwarn you of possible gaps that your training will need to fill.

                  5) "Tell me about yourself."
                  Gets them talking and allows you to assess their communication skills and their communication "personality" which is vital to sales reps.

                  6-?) Add your own

                  Behavioral-Based Questioning:

                  This is based on the belief that you can best predict how people will perform in any given situation by looking at how they performed in past situations. This line of questioning generates responses that are more typical of the applicants' behaviors and less of what they think you want to hear. I am a big fan of this type of questioning. I have met many people who "give great interview" but suck (excuse my language) at the job.

                  Behavior-based questioning typically employs open-ended questions that start with phrases such as:

                  Describe a time for me when...
                  Explain for me how you would...
                  Tell me about...
                  What did you do when....
                  Give me a specific example of a situation where...
                  What are your strategies for...
                  How have your past experiences...

                  Your goal during this questioning is to discover concrete information to help you determine who will be best for your job.

                  Example #1:

                  Normal question:

                  "How do you handle stress?"
                  "I am very good at handling stress. In fact, I would say it's one of my greatest strengths."

                  Behavior-based question:

                  "Describe for me a time when you were faced with a difficult situation or project at work and how you overcame it."
                  "I had been working on a project for about 6 months for a company out in California developing new software for the accounts payable department. I had two weeks left until the final deadline. At the start of the second-to-last week, we found out the customer needed it a week early and would be flying out at the end of the week for it to be presented. I did what needed to be done. I recruited some help from other departments and worked overtime until the job was complete. In the end the customer was happy with the end product and they signed on for another project with us."

                  Example #2:

                  Normal Question:

                  "Are you able to multi-task?"
                  "My previous positions have demanded that I handle many different projects at one time. I think I multi-task very well."

                  Behavioral-Based Question:

                  "Tell me about a time when you had to exercise your ability to multi-task and what the result were."
                  "In the last project I was working on, the other team leader resigned her position. Not only was I responsible for completing my project, but I was also responsible for covering her responsibilities until they found her replacement. I was able to get my project completed on time as well as run her department. Her department never suffered because I was able to delegate some of her responsibilities to her staff and complete the rest of them on my own. In fact, I was so successful, my boss awarded me with a certificate of recognition at our last conference."

                  I've not used sales examples because it would be best for you to use your own. but basic questions that should be "converted" to bahavioral-based ones might include:

                  Have you had experience with sales before?
                  How is your selling ability?
                  If someone were asked to describe you in one word, what would it be?
                  Do you have any problems speaking to strangers?
                  Are you able to work well under pressure?
                  Do you get along with your current boss?


                  We tend to like people who are like us. But remember that you have strengths. you also have weaknesses. Which would make a stronger team -- two of you with the same strengths and weaknesses -- or one of you with strengths in the other's weakest areas? Often, diversity within a team can prove to be its greatest asset.

                  Some of the worst hiring decisions are made when we are the most desparate to bring someone on board. Finding the right candidte takes time. making a quick-fix decision now can cost you severely in the future -- and leave you in the same starting position you are in today. Slow down and wait for that first-class applicant. That perfect fit.

                  Smooth talkers don't always make the best sales reps, but having the ability to "sell yourself" can prove valuable to an applicant's ability to "sell you" -- just be sure the applicant is able to "sweet talk a sale" of something or someone other than themselves. Many get caught on that one.

                  Second Interviews:


                  Only if necessary. 1 to 2 days after the initial -- don't wait too long or Mr./Ms. Right will find another job. use this opportunity to find the right "fit." Get to know each other. Make it informal, more personal...

                  Managing the process:

                  Most people neglect this step, but it is vital to keeping your experience cost- time- and efficiency-beneficial.

                  Identify the cost analysis

                  Did you job description clearly define the responsibilities of the position?
                  (Did you hear many of the same questions during interviews that you'd not answered in the description?)

                  Did your sourcing method recruit the type of candidates you were looking for?
                  (Were suggestions made by applicants on where else you should look?)

                  Were you able to stay within your alloted budget?

                  Did the interview process produce the information you needed to make a good decision?
                  (If not, what questions could you have asked that would have led to the information you needed?)

                  Did your own work suffer due to too much time being spent in the interviewing process?
                  (Should you outsource the initial steps next time and concentrate only on the face-to-face interviews?)

                  Was the job offer clear and persuasive?
                  (How many turned YOU down?)

                  What could you do better next time?
                  (You can always improve on something).

                  Give me a buzz or send me an email if you need me to clarify anything. Also, let me know where you hail from as I have associates all over the world who can help you one-on-one should you desire. And, of course, if you know any companies who could benefit from my training, please show them this response and let them know I love to travel, grins...

                  Have a great day, and let me know how things work out. I am intrigued, as I, too, am starting my own radio show in a few months.


                  Bonnie Stukenholtz-Brown
                  360 Innovative Solutions, LLC
                  Sterling, Colorado
                  • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
                    skydalimit Wayfarer
                    You need to join a barter company, which im planing to do real soon, once i finish setting up my new corporation, and if you need to know about Barter and need to know which ones are the best, and their price, email me at: for more info.

                    Sky Dalimit.
                    • Re: Need Independent sales people - How to go about it
                      here2helpu Newbie
                      I saw your posting regarding the need to obtain funding to buy airtime, is this still a need? Did you ever find your commission only sales position?
                      If not, drop me a line via