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Blackhat Hiring Experiment

Discussion in 'Offline Marketing' started by dexter, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. dexter

    dexter Newbie

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    I went on a bit of a blackhat hiring spree this week - apart from wanting to generate "more" clients for my offline "business", it's a bit of an experiment to see what works when hiring. The business is in its infancy - complete infancy to be honest, but nobody else really needs to know that, now, do they? If I can get some traction from these guys, the day job will be history, and I'll be able to move into this full time, which of course is the goal. Jobs are great.... for other people!

    The goal: get 10 COMPETENT and PROFESSIONAL people selling offline services for my fully set up but ZERO CLIENT BUSINESS, pushing enough dollars through the door so that I can get my ass back to Miami and watch the thongs walk by. I should mention that I will be providing QUALITY service... the only blackhat part of the plan is to get good sales people who wouldn't ordinarily want to work with a one man startup.

    I was inspired by John Durham, the guy that runs the telemarketing forum and has a bunch of overly wordy WSOs which are downloadable here. If you can get past the "I must spin a 2 page WSO into 50 pages by blabbing about how successful I am", there are actually a few pearls of wisdom in there. John, if you're reading this, I'll be buying the WSOs as soon as I see a return from 'em. Think of it as shareware ;)

    I was also inspired by Tim Ferris - the 4 Hour Workweek guy. My plan is to productize and standardize everything this company will do, and outsource at least 90% of the effort. 100% is the goal, but step 1 is to earn enough to get me out of the 9-5 in the next few months. Step 2 is to outsource the management. It will be costly, but when I'm making enough, it's not a big issue. I plan to pay people VERY well so that I don't have to do fuck all. I really like watching hot chicks in thongs.

    So, back to the hiring spree. I posted ads in about 20 different cities in my state, on pretty much every free site I could find.

    Things I've found out so far, as they come to my mind:

    - have a good website (obviously) so you look real to your prospective hirees
    - hire outside your geographic area, preferably within your country or state, but far enough that it's a few hour drive to come visit your "office", also known as the spare bedroom. You can rent an office after money comes in. Go meet your sales guys in their territory until you have an office.
    - don't appear to be a one man operation
    - don't appear to have no clients
    - be prepared to fake some testimonials, or get friends to be prepared to receive a few calls. Luckily I've been on this planet long enough to have some friends who have been in business for a decade or two - you young'ns may have more of an issue.
    - there is a definite hierarchy, even among free job posting sites. Craigslist gets the "apply to anything" people, other sites like indeed seem to attract a better caliber of people. This is a $0 experiment, so I didn't do as JD suggested and buy an ad on Monster.
    - don't bother with sites you've never heard of but show up on google for free job posting. You'll get no applicants from them that you wouldn't get from the big ones.
    - very few people seem to actually read instructions in your post, and some can't even be bothered to switch up their resume. One guy was looking for a construction job according to his resume, another just replied with her email address. Makes you wonder why these brainiacs are still unemployed, doesn't it ;)
    - Working on 100% commission is totally OK for some people, but the commissions have to be JUICY. Emphasize FAST MONEY to get them out of whatever their current issue is.
    - How much to offer? Well, make it so that they can REALISTICALLY earn 100k if they work hard. That seems to be the tipping point that gets the serious sales people in the door, in my state. In India, I'm sure you wouldn't have to offer as much ;)
    - If your sales guys can be selling 2 whatevers a week, they need to make $1000 commission per whatever. If they can reasonably sell 10 whatevers, the commission only needs to be $200.
    - Get lots of sales people who are EXCITED to work with you. Without sales there is no business.
    - I've seen a bunch of web design and SEO companies advertising on craigslist, offering 10%, even 5% of a sale. Fuck that. Give 50%. Give 80%. Whatever you need to get the sale and still come out ahead. Think about lifetime customer value. You can always sell more to an existing client after the salesguy inevitably leaves you, and you won't have to pay out on additional jobs.
    - ensure you have a contract that specifies minimum sales quotas. You can choose who to keep and who to dump.

    I thought I'd have to make do with substandard people and gradually upgrade the quality as I became more legit, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of some applicants. I will be able to be picky - a luxury I wasn't expecting in the beginning.

    I'll be happier once sales start coming in, but so far so good. I'm not totally surprised, but it amazes me how easy it is to get people to do your dirty work. Everybody is good at different things, so this should be a win win. I get business I'm too lazy to go find myself, they get money. My outsourcers get money. And I get to watch girls in thongs.

    I'll try to update this thread with my progress, if anyone is interested.

    PS I have to find a good independent representative contract tonight, anyone got some link love for me?
     
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  2. acotut

    acotut Elite Member

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    You have a good plan,beside that it seems you have some experience in this field.
    This challange shouldn't be a problem for you,as long as you stick to your plan, "Get to watch girls in thongs"

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  3. 7878

    7878 Executive VIP Premium Member

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    You're going to find that hiring commission based salespeople to do the dirty work boils down to two parts -

    1. The part where you make the outstanding, can't miss, 100k a year, rainbows and unicorns offer to your candidates. Their heads spin and they get all starry eyed and excited thinking about all that money. After all, how hard can it be to sell SEO/SEM/ORM/blah blah?? Everything looks to be in order and both you and your new hires are excited to get started.

    2. The part where they instantly and inevitably fail because your only investment in them was putting them on the hook and leaving them to their own devices. Maybe a fancy "training" PDF or something along those lines and a price list pressed into their hands and off they went into the wild to get $10,000 checks from needy business owners who are just DYING to hand over money to some crusty newbie in a JC Penny suit who swears them internets are gonna bring in the customers like a freight train. /sarcasm

    Here's my advice to you - spend some time combing through some of the offilne marketing information that ISN'T crammed into a $7, "ground-breaking" PDF that claims to have the magic method that will make you rich overnight. Guys like John Durham, Nick Ferrara (total assclown rehash artist), Jay Kanigan, blah blah... all make money by teaching what they cannot do. I've read his stuff, the majority of it is downright laughable. This strategy looks good on paper but will fail to translate to practice, trust me. :)
     
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  4. dexter

    dexter Newbie

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    7878, thanks for the advice. I've been inspired by your 3/22 thread, and the model is perhaps better thought out than I explained in the OP. The whole back-end sales support system is in place. A 10 page pdf explains the whole sales process. It's the front end that needs the work. Time for the next interview... phone's ringing... only 3 minutes late :)
     
  5. BlueTurtle

    BlueTurtle BANNED BANNED

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    I'm going to be doing the same thing for my mobile web design business, dexter. I think 7878 has some valid points, but I don't agree that it just outright doesn't work. If you just send them on their merry way with nothing more than a pep talk then they'll fail. My plan is to integrate my commission based sales people more heavily into the business and give them the support and freedom to succeed.

    Some of the things I'm planning on doing are :-

    1. A CRM package and project management software with good collaboration tools to allow us to work together, rather than have them just go off and do their own thing.

    2. I'm not going to give them PDFs for training, but rather work directly with them, chat with them and treat them more like business partners than sales people. This is good for a couple of reasons, firstly you give them more confidence and make them feel like they're a valued part of the business and secondly the kind of help they'll get is much more pragmatic than just reading a PDF.

    3. I'm a sales person myself, so I'm not relying on people to come up with strategies. I'll be showing people how they can get good leads, how to sell to those specific type of leads, what to say on the phone and the overall sales goals from the first phone call to the sale.

    4. I'm also giving my sales people a percentage of all money earned from their clients as long as they're working for the company. That's a strategy more for holding onto your best sales people and giving them the opportunity to grow as you grow. I'd say 10% of all future one-off and recurring payments is a good figure and gives the sales person the potential for very high salaries.



    Feel free to drop me a pm with your skype if you want to get in touch for someone to chat with about this or anything at all to do with offline businesses.
     
  6. 7878

    7878 Executive VIP Premium Member

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    Keep me posted on how you do. I'd love to be proven wrong on this one, unfortunately I've seen this type of setup go down in flames more than once.

    That being said, if you make an investment of time and training in your people the outcome could be entirely different. Most of what I've seen with this approach is pretty generic - a CL job ad follow by an autoresponse, short interview that promises the moon, and a canned "training" guide that teaches the prospect just enough to take a swing and fail miserably. It's comparable to other John Durham-esque methods, like giving away 20 free websites a day and making money on the hosting. It's sooooooo easy, right? But when newbies get out there and try to put it into practice, they inevitably find out that the real world is a much different place.

    If you guys are having a chat about the subject feel free to conference me in, I'd be happy to share a bit about what I've seen and learned with this approach, I'm sure I could help you out even though this isn;t something I personally do. :)
     
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  7. educatedfool

    educatedfool Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Wow, big guns posting on the thread. Seems to be helpful for others in the long run. I would love to follow this thread for more. Anyways, all the best OP.
     
  8. kasheshe

    kasheshe Regular Member

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    You know what, this is a topic that needs to be talked about. I recently got a team or what I thought was a team of 6 sales guys and one marketing manager. It has been 2 weeks since I did this. Guess what, none of them has come back with anything concrete.

    It's all promises and starry eyes. I know a train wreck about to happen when I see one. So discussing this would be a great idea.

    How to get a good team that can market your product for you. I can't imagine going for each and every meeting and that now seems to be the case.
     
  9. BlueTurtle

    BlueTurtle BANNED BANNED

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    Yep, your real world experience/advice with this is helpful and a reminder that to make it work it'll need a much more pro-active approach. It's got me thinking and I'm sure it's saved me some time/mistakes.

    I think the commission only payment in general is only going to get people new to sales. Even in a recession I can imagine good sales people still get work, since if you're good all you have to do is approach ANY company and offer to work on a trial basis on commission only, so there's not going to be many if any desperate top sales people out there.

    I think the problem most people have when doing the commission only package is, like you said, they're looking to get people who can just come in and get them sales without any input from them.

    To make commission only work you would need an entirely new approach. The goal should be to find the potentially great sales people and nurture them. I'm positive there's a lot of people out there that are potentially great at sales, but they've never gotten into it but due to the recession are trying out other career paths.

    Even average, otherwise bad sales people with the right training and support can be turned into effective sales people.

    So I would say this all comes down to the individual business owner. To make it work you have to enjoy working with people, be good at training and yourself be good at sales.

    It's not going to be an easy route to fast hands off money(although that's not what my goals are with my mobile biz. I'm looking for expansion), but it has the potential for you to build some really strong sales people that'll be there through your company's growth.

    Overall I'd say the main mantra has to be that of turning average people into sales people to make this work. I personally believe with my product and sales strategy I can do that, but in certain fields it's going to be hard. Selling £1000 web sites or SEO for a regular person is going to be hard, but selling a £150 mobile web site with cool features like 'click to call' and multiple other easy selling points is a different proposition.


    That would be fantastic and any time you could spare would be really appreciated.


    Oh, and while you're reading this I have a quick bhw rule question for you:- One of my ideas for getting clients for my mobile business is offering other offline companies that offer online services a 40% commission to pass on mobile web site business. If that's allowed where would be the best place on the site to do that? The JV section or would I require a bst thread? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  10. .:mAestro:.

    .:mAestro:. Regular Member

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    I believe this is really good approach. I would do the same thing.
    But, questions for you, so I can get better picture:
    How much time are you planning to spend on teaching those employees? How much you will spend on communication with them in later stages?

    Will that spent time affect your other projects in any way?
     
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  11. BlueTurtle

    BlueTurtle BANNED BANNED

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    One of the key things that I see in making this work is being able to spot the people who have potential. What you/I don't want to do is get bogged down with teaching 20+ people to sell.

    Teaching sales isn't really a hugely time consuming endeavor to begin with though. It's not like teaching someone to design sites. Most of the learning will happen when the person is on the phone with people and I'll be there to discuss the conversations, answer questions and give feedback, essentially keeping the bike straight, but not doing the pedaling.

    Teaching someone how I'm researching leads and the main selling points for instance is only a small amount of work. After that giving them a general outline of how to open the conversation and what the goals are.

    It's fairly simple. You shouldn't be trying to sell on the phone. You should be informing the person of a potential problem they have and offering to send them some more information via email if they'd like to fix it. I view cold calling as like a pre pre-sale page, then the email is like the pre-sale page, then your main web site is the sales page, so you have a 3 step process gently easing them through the buying process.

    The key is not to pressure business owners on the phone. High pressure sales works better with the public who are more prone to making irrational emotional decisions. Business owners tend to think more logically when it comes to their business, so a gentle, more honest approach works well. Obviously what you're selling needs to be good though. I don't know how to sell garbage to businesses, that's not really my area. I enjoy selling if I believe in what I'm selling.

    Hope that answers your question.
     
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  12. warren222

    warren222 Newbie

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    Great share it could be useful
     
  13. vineyard

    vineyard BANNED BANNED

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    Very usefull info thanks
     
  14. .:mAestro:.

    .:mAestro:. Regular Member

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    Yes, it was helpful a lot!
    I like those different approaches (one for businesses and another one for individuals) - you have summarized that in only few sentences and at the same time it was very clear to understand it.
    Now I have bigger picture for both domains. But, still have so much work to adopt everything else.

    I wish you best with your offline project! ;)
     
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  15. BlueTurtle

    BlueTurtle BANNED BANNED

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    You too, buddy!
     
  16. mudbutt

    mudbutt Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    This is a recipe for disaster. You need to learn how to sell the product yourself first before you will be able to provide new hires the proper training and tools they will need to succeed. From someone who runs small seo call centers (US based)...its not as easy as you think. The biggest misconception about the "bad economy" is people assume the market is full of talented people looking for work. That is absolutely wrong. In a bad economy, companies dump their bottom 10-20% and keep their rockstars so you'll basically be looking for "great salespeople" from the cestpool. My advice; get 20-30 clients yourself before you start looking to hire others.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  17. Getwhatchuwant

    Getwhatchuwant Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Interesting concept, most of my experience IS in real world management. GM, Retail manager, District Manager and I did outside (commission) sales myself. I will be keeping an eye on this thread to see how it goes.

    Getting your team to believe in you and your product is everything, if you have that they will walk into any battle with you, if they dont, well....you are stuck. Should they catch on you deceived them at the start (implying you had business and had success) then you will lose them rather quickly.

    The part I am having some trouble wrapping my mind around is that you have not mentioned going out in the field with them for a day or two to help them through common questions and with rebuttals as well as closing the deal. Just does not seem viable long term.

    Blue turtle appears to have a better grasp of what this will take. I will be watching with interest.
     
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  18. meathead1234

    meathead1234 Moderator Staff Member Moderator Premium Member

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    As the others have already said, sounds good on paper but it won't work.

    You absolutely MUST be able to sell your own service YOURSELF before you start hiring people and expecting them to do it for you. I didn't hire anyone to do anything sales related until I was flat out and couldn't handle anymore clients - and by this stage I had done over a million dollars in (brokerage) sales myself.

    The problem with hiring ten random people for a service that is unproven is that you have no idea if you're going to be able to deliver a decent service. If you're planning on paying them 50% commissions then your service is either going to be poor, expensive or your margin is going to be unsustainable. I have a few staff on commission-only plans and it can work, it's just not that easy to find decent people you can trust with your clients. The fact I already had a few year's of experience doing what I do meant it was far easier to get them up and running - and I am always available if they have questions and can answer with real experience. You don't want your staff to know more about your clients and business than you do.

    Bullshitting can get you a certain distance in business, but in the long run, those who really know what they are doing will dominate. You at least need to have a few clients and get used to the whole service process before you hire sales people. It could get really messy if you get a bunch of clients and can't deliver a decent service, especially if you're in the litigious land of the US :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  19. Getwhatchuwant

    Getwhatchuwant Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Exactly, with my sales teams I had experienced the sales process, knew the most common objections, could offer suggestions on effective rebuttals(allowing for creativity from the team), gave them an idea of what "else" I am willing to do to land a sale, bundling products/services, showing value to the customer vs price etc... cant really do that with a PDF or over the phone. You have to feel the heat for a while to develop a strategy that works and by then you will have landed a client or two yourself.
     
  20. BlueTurtle

    BlueTurtle BANNED BANNED

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    That's an extremely negative outlook.

    Also, I don't agree about the companies dumping the bottom 10-20%. It's not as simple as that. Entire companies are going out of business and ALL the staff are being wiped.

    Companies that are getting rid of employees aren't basing their decisions based on the skills of employees. There's no overall list of good, great and bad employees so it's not practical, but the main reason it's not happening is because companies aren't just wiping a clean 10-20% across the board. They get rid of non-essential areas of the business and areas that aren't turning, or contributing to the profit.

    You might be surprised to find out it's usually the top employees that end up going because upper level management can be very short sighted and work on a quarter to quarter basis.

    Sales staff are one area where top staff wouldn't be let go though since their performance is directly measurable, however, as I stated above there's still the companies who completely go bust and all the staff are jobless.


    I'm not new to sales myself either. I ran a very successful web design company in the mid 00's and I outperformed all my sales staff. I've also worked for a short time doing sales for an SEO company, so this definitely isn't my first rodeo.


    I personally, for my mobile business won't be doing a single bit of door to door sales. The reason is that mobile sites are an 'upper tier' product, ie, they're not for companies new to the web and I don't want to get involved doing web sites, shopping carts or any of that stuff. I purely want to focus on mobile sites, then moving on to mobile applications and mobile advertising.

    A mobile site is not that useful for a company with a web site who isn't getting traffic from either advertising or SEO and for the businesses that don't even have a web site it's just a waste of time. For mobile sites I'll be exclusively targeting companies who are on page 1/2 of google for some search term, and/or who are using adwords/media buys etc. These are the ones who actually need a mobile site and it's an ethical sell because they really will see *instant* results.

    Also, when you do door to door you limit yourself to your immediate area. I'm planning on attacking all of the UK, US, Canada and Singapore to start, then venturing into Europe and South America.


    Good points. Not quite as negative as mudbutt, who more or less just said it won't work and painted a rather bleak picture. :)

    You've contributed some real world experience to the discussion which is always helpful. I'm positive I can make this work for my business, but I'm not delusional in thinking it's going to be easy. I am confident though, that with the right strategy it'll work. The big difference with what I'm doing is that I'm selling a product rather than a service. A mobile site takes me 2 hours to do and there's no actual design work since I get the design/content/color scheme from their main site.

    I can also afford to pay 40-50% commissions because my margins are high and I'm building a high volume business rather than a time consuming service based business. It takes me 2 hours to do a site, so a designer will be able to do 4-5 per day, netting me 50% of £150 * 5 per designer = £300 to £375 per day. My plan for paying designers is going to be minimum wage + 10% commission per site, so they'll be on £6.50 base + an additional £7.50 to £12 per hour depending on how quickly they do the sites. That leaves me 40% per site profit which is a pretty high profit margin for a high volume business.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012