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Outside consultant: How do I hire a reputable sales rep?

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Question

I am launching a new hair styling tool/product called Click n Curl. In the first three months, Web-based and Internet sales have exceeded expectations. How do I go about finding and hiring a reputable sales representative — a person who has existing relationships with brick-and-mortar stores that are a match for my product?

Kim Nimsgern, Click n Curl, www.click-n-curl.com

Answer

Selling is a particularly difficult activity in most start-up businesses. There are a number of resources for finding a sales rep in the beauty industry. Start with beauty schools/training organizations in the Twin Cities. They have career placement offices, which also serve alumni with a background in cosmetology. Contact a distributor who has worked in your area. These individuals probably will have strong relationships with brick-and-mortar stores. You could also attend a beauty-focused trade show that provides vendors exposure to reps from across the country. Find one you like and ask if he or she can recommend a contact.

The process of hiring a salesperson should have two components: 1) identifying the required competencies and 2) identifying the types of questions you would use on an application form, interview questions, and finally, the use of paper-and-pencil tests where appropriate. Typical competencies would include: knowledge of the product, verbal and written communications, gregarious nature, self-confidence, etc. Study the federal government’s O* Net system (www.onetonline.org) for more detail. Your application form and your interview questions should be developed directly from the competencies.

Full-time sales reps typically draw a salary, receive some form of commission and have some level of benefits. Contact the local Employers’ Association for information about starting salaries.

Mick Sheppeck, associate professor, Management Department, University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business and Colleen Sauter, consultant, Opus College of Business.

Originally published: 04/07/2013, Star Tribune