Posts belonging to Category employment strategies for Black Sales Professionals



I Need My Money! A Practical Guide to Getting Paid- Part 1!

I recognize that the best sales jobs are still hard to come by.  There are still sales professionals that are changing jobs, and make no doubt about it, they are having to negotiate their salary.  I think these tips will help you whether you new or a veteran.  Good proven techniques for you to benefit from!

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The interview skills that you honed have been superb, and your ability to stay focused during the group interview was exemplary. The list of accomplishments on your resume gave you credibility, and your vision showed well.

Now, you have the pleasure of being selected for the job you coveted. Job one now is to make sure that you get a “deal” that you can live with. Too many sales professionals have avoided the discomfort of negotiating, which should be what you do best, and have settled for something that they later regret.

Salary- Know the Landscape

There is nothing more compelling for a sales professional than getting paid what they are worth. In order for this to happen for you, you need a brief education and awareness of the salary landscape. Getting what you deserve requires this understanding, as it is the basis for your ability to effectively negotiate. This requires some background, some homework, and a little bit of intuition.

The good part is that if you’re currently an employee of the desired company, you most likely have knowledge of their compensation. Also, the databank of information that you have accumulated during your business and sales career, no matter how long it has been, is useful.

One useful yet controversial “tool” that will help to define the landscape is called Glass Door. Many professionals from numerous occupations use this tool, and it is abused by just as many. One of the most common uses is to determine a baseline and as I explain further you will have better understanding of Glass Doors’ worth and veracity. I will provide a link to Glass Door’s site below, but first let me give you some caveats.

Glass Door depends on user/member reporting to build its database of information. Each participant must give up some information on himself or herself before having full access to the information provided by others in this database. It is extremely popular at this time, yet is probably to some degree a good place for “liars poker” as well. With that in mind, I suggest you take it with a “grain of salt.” It does not mean that you can’t use this in your quest for information, but you do need to do it with an understanding of the limitations of the tool.  You can get to Glass Door by using this link, or putting http://www.glassdoor.com in your browser.

Glass Door gives you salary information on a number of different positions, including those involving sales and service. Interestingly enough, that may include sales positions at your current employer, as well as sales positions at your prospective employer. It also factors in your geographic area as well.

This gives you a jumping off point, as you look to understand what sales professionals of like experience and position will make. Keep in mind the Glass Door is not limited to sales.  This tool gives you more information than salary, but…keep it in perspective.

Before we leave this brief discussion on salary expectations and requests we should also recognize that the salary probably should not be your driving issue. You’re driving issue probably should be total compensation, and that should will be driven by the strength or weakness of the sales compensation plan that you are on. You will need a solid review of the plan to get an idea of your earning potential.  You should ask questions liberally, and I would suggest that you see the mechanics of the plan using some real sales situations.

You should get this in the offer letter.

Lock in your “Conditions”

I will simplify this to avoid confusion. Your “conditions” would be anything that is not salary and not employee benefit driven. This will include the following items:

  • Territory
  • Goal Expectations
  • Expense allowance–per diem
  • Company Vehicle
  • Inherited business
  • Inherited prospects
  • Issues regarding assistance and support
  • Expectations on any legal costs and issues regarding any non-competes or contracts

These items are important as well, and need to be negotiated just like the salary. I call them conditions because they are a condition of the agreement that should be observed by either party.  These are part of the employment agreement and should be discussed and recorded.

Above all, get it in writing.

Lock-in your benefits

This is ultra important, not because it makes the job any less difficult, but because it makes the working conditions palatable.

I would include in that discussion the following items:

Vacation
Personal days
Employee Benefit Issues

You may not be negotiating employee benefit issues as they should be going “by the book”, yet you should get definite clarification on these issues and have a meeting of the minds as you will feel abused if you lose a dispute about these in the future.

Above all, get it in writing as no one wants to hear what you understood to be the deal; they want to see the agreement.  Remember, as you have heard before, it is not what you know; it is what you can prove!

The Power of Commitment

I think that you know my sentiments reducing all agreements to writing.  It is best for both sides.  You should also be prepared to live with it.  You negotiate for a living, and this is the most important negotiation that you are going to be involved with for years to come.

Do your homework, and be knowledgeable.  Close the deal and get to the business of selling.  No one likes surprises!

Next Post will cover the actual salary negotiation.  Knowing the landscape definitely puts you in position.

Good luck and good selling.

We welcome your comments.  You can reach me at Michael.Parker@blacksalesjournal.com.

Continuous Improvement! Do It Or Lose Your Job!

Some athletes are amazing individuals.  Many develop a skill set, and let their skills take them to the top of their craft.  If they are fortunate enough, they get a chance in college, or even the professional ranks.

In this process they learn something during that journey that many other individuals don’t get the opportunity to experience.  From the time that you show some mastery of your craft, and even become accomplished, the coach is searching for your replacement!  Yes…someone to knock you off of your perch.

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It is natural, and taken for granted.  For example, if you are a sophomore college athlete in basketball, you will be asked to show other athletes around campus in hopes that they will attend.  Any one of these athletes can be your competition for your position…Yes, your potential replacement!  You do it willingly and accept it, as that is how you initially became acquainted with the campus and met the players; that is just the way it is.

Be keen on this issue as in the light of competition, you will recognize the need to do something to get better or be concerned about being replaced, regardless of your color!

Let’s Be Systematic

The sales process for an individual is complicated but simple.  Simple from the standpoint of the components:

  • Territory Management/Situational Assessment
  • Prospecting/Prospect Management
  • Sales Skills/ Training/Development

Underlying each of these is the last portion of the professional process:

  • Continuous Improvement

Each of these has its particular role and we should examine them, as each professional needs to govern their own improvement.

Territory Management – Situational Assessments – Black sales professionals need to know and manage their territories just like any other professional.  Knowing the clientele, the buying habits, and the effects of external stimuli such as the economy.  Just as important is being strong at doing situational assessments, which is the ability to ‘read’ sales situations correctly.  Is this buyer ready to buy, and will he/she buy from me?  Am I being played and at what cost?  What proof sources or references do I need to increase my credibility?  What do I need to do to get the edge?  Assessing the situation and recognition of special circumstances are important.

Improving the activities around territory management and situational analysis makes a difference.  Some improvement comes with experience, and some with good analysis.

Prospecting/Prospect Management – Improvement here is one that some veterans might not feel is as important, but many others will see the need to get markedly better.  The act of prospecting, and pipeline management should never be neglected, and any attempts to improve are well worth it.  From knowing your formulas to the actual pitches that you use, prospect sourcing is that one area that demands continuous improvement, and continuous attention.  Get better at the act of prospecting, and know your numbers to a ‘fault’.  Regarding actual technique you might read Black Sales Journal 11/28/11 Tuning Up Your Cold Calling and Phone Etiquette or Black Sales Journal 3/22/12, Are You Playing Roulette or Working Smart?

Sales Skills/Training/Development – Have you ever thought about whether a sales training course or seminar will help you?  Have you ever pondered buying that paperback about sales but just did not want to pay the steep $16.00 price?  Well, at least you have thought about these items…now do it!  Courses and seminars are not for everyone, but you would be wrong to count them all out.  Whether it is for skills development or motivation, investigate them well and take the plunge.  The ‘morsel’ that you need to improve might be right there waiting.  Other sales professionals can help by making suggestions, but whether it is a good book or an informative seminar, try it, you may like it.

Continuous Improvement – Easier than You Think!

Continuous improvement includes activities from self-study course work to getting an advanced degree.  It can include anything from changing your sales methods to learning a new method of closing sales.  There are sales professionals working on all aspects of their skills with seminars, college coursework, professional sales skills coursework, and a multitude of other types of self-improvement.

Determine the areas that can use improvement, and just …do something!  I can’t think of one sales professional who would not benefit from a seriously good negotiation course.  If it is not new material, it can serve as a refreshing.

Remember, there is always someone who wants to take your place, no matter what you think of the rigors of your sales position, and they may be sharpening their skills.

Always be the best.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@blacksalesjournal.com.