Do I use work-from-home commission-only sales agents, OR get an office and get salaried salesman?

24 replies
Hi kids,

I've been doing offline for a while, and have started selling mobile. I am doing mostly walk-ins, and some cold-calling.

I want to leverage my selling, and so am looking to bring in salesmen.

I wanted some advice if any of you stars have any - do I hire:

a) Work-from-home, commission-only agents?

OR -

b) Get a business plan together, get a bank loan, get an office and hire professional salemen?

The reason I'm asking, is for a previous business I had, I took on commission-only sales staff, who worked from home/in the field. I didn't have an office - and still don't.

The problem is, this was the downfall of my business. The percentage of people who actually did anything was so tiny, it was staggering. Even at the start of the recession, too; I thought people would be hungry for work.

I lost tonnes of money and time this way, by putting faith in people that frankly were a waste of time and space.

The issue I have with the alternative, is that although I'll be taking on a much higher calibre of salesman, I'll be having to deal with nonsense like staff insurance, health and safety, tax, leave, employee rights, and all that other bureaucratic, nannying rubbish - as well as having an office to run.

Does anyone have any insight into this?

I'm not necessarily looking for the answers - as I know there isn't ever one answer. I'm more looking for people's experience in this arena.

Hugs and smoochies to the best answer.
#agents #commissiononly #office #salaried #sales #salesman #workfromhome
  • Profile picture of the author gepisar
    Tricky, and a dilemma Im facing too.

    Maybe the answer is to work closely with one or two 100% commission "work from homies" and get enough $$$ to expand into an office. I believe the Shard is mostly empty and going cheap!

    Be clear and up-front with the homies though, plan and insist on a five minute call everyday - do it like a normal business:

    You know, 8AM meeting "plan of the day - whats the new news"

    Close at 4.30PM - "how did it go, what happened, whats to learn and whats to do tomorrow and where can things be improved"

    CAREFUL though; make sure your contracts are tight. I did this before and the cheeky shits used my remote working software to manage clients for OTHER businesses...

    Paid me for the privilege, but still... I just cant get over how greedy people get.

    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    There are a couple alternatives.

    1. Partnering with complimentary businesses/sales people who already have relationships with your targets, to sell them more stuff,

    and/or

    2. Partnering with complimentary businesses/sales people to help them get new business by offering your services/products as an incentive.

    When I say partnering, I mean a joint marketing venture, with commissions. You are making other existing sales teams be your part time sales team.

    Scenario #1. Say you want to target restaurants. Think of all those businesses who already have restaurants as customers. Several food/supply distributors, beer/wine/liquor distributors, print marketing/advertising people, HR, banks, accountants, point of sale/register company, etc... Just networking w/ those sales people would get you some warm leads to close and offer the sales person a commission for the warm intro. Or even working more formally w/ those companies by teaming up with them so they offer their clients added value such as your mobile marketing, in order to retain their client and stand apart from their customers.

    #2. Target businesses who want to get new clients and stand apart from competitors by adding value by subsidizing your IM services. Would a bank (who probably have customer acquisition marketing budgets etc...)who is targeting commercial business accounts be more successful if they offered a free mobile website to new accounts? or some IM marketing program free to their new clients? You could give the bank discounted services or even something free that has some value but is low cost. Freemium model. The effect is you are outsourcing at least your sales efforts by generating at least a warm lead referral network, and actually could be paid to do it, and then work with their(your) new client with add ons, upsells etc..."hey, tell me about your business?" "What are you currently doing for building sales?" etc...

    Instead of all these thousands of companies and millions of sales people offering dumb trinkets and trash, they could be offering your valuable services in order to close their deals, and retain customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    I have no idea how much office space costs in England.
    But a small 800 square foot office could be furnished with good used office furniture (buy from closing offices, not dealers).

    You won't need a loan. Any credit card should cover it.

    There are huge advantages to having an office (even a small one). It's easier to get financing, credit card processing (I always called my office a store).
    You'll have a company name.

    The big advantage is in hiring. If you have an office, it feels, to the reps, like they are actually working someplace.

    It's a better place to hold interviews than your home or a pub.

    You can train the reps while you are moving into the office, or even while you are looking for one.

    Me? I hired salespeople on commission. But they set appointments that we both went on, and I gave them the commission on the sale (their part, anyway). So they were making money while I was training them, and they produced appointments to keep us both busy.

    I did that to get them ten sales. After that, they came in for a brief sales training every day, and were on their own in the field.

    But for the first ten sales, they would see how I sold, how people bought, and that prospects did buy.

    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    I got into Internet Marketing to have freedom and work online. I formed my own marketing agency in 2008 but decided not to go big and get office space and employees.

    I would suggest to get "work at home, commission only agents" if you need help selling and want to grow. Then outsource the workload overseas, I have having great luck with the Philippines right now.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dmagnet
      Originally Posted by sdentrepreneur View Post

      I got into Internet Marketing to have freedom and work online. I formed my own marketing agency in 2008 but decided not to go big and get office space and employees.

      I would suggest to get "work at home, commission only agents" if you need help selling and want to grow. Then outsource the workload overseas, I have having great luck with the Philippines right now.
      I have had some success the Philippines as well. The only downside (a major one for me) is the weather and more specifically the Typhoons. According to Reuters there are more than 20 Typhoons hitting the Philippines each year.

      I love the work ethic as well as the quality but when the work stops we have to "drop everything" to cover on our end.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sue Bruce
    Originally Posted by Scotty Stevens View Post

    Hi kids,

    The problem is, this was the downfall of my business. The percentage of people who actually did anything was so tiny, it was staggering. Even at the start of the recession, too; I thought people would be hungry for work.

    I lost tonnes of money and time this way, by putting faith in people that frankly were a waste of time and space.

    Hugs and smoochies to the best answer.
    People ARE hungry for work. The problem is that most want a salary plus commission (security). Basically the answer is to keep signing up clients until you can do this or make the "Needed One Superstar" pitch in the ads to them. This way you have to give them a big percentage of sales. You get the experienced sales staff who are on a constant search for higher paychecks. (these people alraedy have the security. They know they can sell and want to be compensated well for it.

    Hugs and kisses to you, too.

    Sue
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    You probably don't need the office nor its overhead. You need the right people. Commissioned sales people, and you train them on how to sell your stuff. Working from home they're distracted and undisciplined so maybe you need to meet them every morning in the coffee shop and go over the day's plan, and from there they go to work?
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    a) Work-from-home, commission-only agents?

    If you go this route you will have to recruit 100 people at a time, to get 3-5 great producing agents. This would cost you around $1,000 worth of advertising the way I see it, over a couple of weeks time. AND, you would have to produce an online training environment for the new recruits.

    I see this as less hassle.

    b) Get a business plan together, get a bank loan, get an office and hire professional salesmen?

    Been there, done that. If you are highly social its good for your ego to surround yourself with minions... not very practical though when you can network on the internet and run a virtual sales organization , make recruiting automated, and even have a virtual office where people meet?

    If you need to feel "established", get an office, but if you want to create your business like a mad scientist, keep working with it online, and recruit people to do the offline stuff is my advice.Create a virtual office environment for them to participate in.

    -JD
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  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
    Originally Posted by Scotty Stevens View Post

    The reason I'm asking, is for a previous business I had, I took on commission-only sales staff, who worked from home/in the field. I didn't have an office - and still don't.

    The problem is, this was the downfall of my business. The percentage of people who actually did anything was so tiny, it was staggering. Even at the start of the recession, too; I thought people would be hungry for work..
    The reason you had dropkicks is probably because your commissions and or product was poor or in the lower brackets.

    Low or unrewarding offers in a comm based role will only attract the dregs and the beginners and is what is shown in your findings.

    There is nothing wrong with commission only sales staff and in many ways people working here have to be better than the average mo jo, as they sell or they starve there is no security blanket.

    The high flyer's will pick and choose who they work for and for those reasons your model must be geared to those people if you want to attract them.

    Talk to some pro sales guys in your line and ask them the rewards structure and study what the top guys earn and conditions they work under then model from that and you should be fine.
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
      Some great answers here, and have given me some guidance.

      The post served its purpose.

      Thanks everyone for your time.
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      Yours in prosperity,
      Skochy - The Musical Salesman

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  • Profile picture of the author jayspann
    I went the partners, office, and high over head route when I created my first offline business and even thou we were billing over 80K some months... very little of that made it to my personal checking account

    I sold that business a couple years ago and I'm 100% virtual now. Almost no overhead (compared to before). I make less gross a month but I'm putting WAY more into my checking account.

    I would work with what you have until you outgrow it. Not pay for something and try and grow into it.
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  • Profile picture of the author hayfj2
    Offer a resell opportunity, and let others invest in "selling you" working from home

    But clear on the BEHAVIOURS they need to do, and the TECHNIQUES they've got to follow,and the REPORTING you want them to do every day, every week and every month, ensure your contract has that written in to it.

    use webinars, teleconferences, VOIP, Google hangouts and skype to motivate, educate and hold them to account

    Hope that helps


    Fraser
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  • Profile picture of the author jayspann
    PS have you thought about doing marketing and trying to get people to contact you instead of the contacting them first?

    "Advertising is salesmanship in print." John Kennedy

    Now that quote is from 1905 but you get the idea.
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
      Originally Posted by jayspann View Post

      PS have you thought about doing marketing and trying to get people to contact you instead of the contacting them first?

      "Advertising is salesmanship in print." John Kennedy

      Now that quote is from 1905 but you get the idea.
      Hi John,

      Do you mean in terms of getting clients?
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      Skochy - The Musical Salesman

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      • Profile picture of the author jayspann
        Originally Posted by Scotty Stevens View Post

        Hi Jay,

        Do you mean in terms of getting clients?
        Yes, as in getting qualified prospects to call you or request information from you instead of cold calling.

        I've did both and both work. I do have to say I enjoyed the business more when I spent more time marketing and less time selling.

        However, you need to pay your dues on the phones and know what is going on in the prospects head before you start launching marketing campaigns.

        With cold calling worst case you are going bug the businesses you are calling and waste some time.

        With marketing you might not bug them as much but you could waste MONEY.
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  • Profile picture of the author startup
    Originally Posted by Scotty Stevens View Post

    Hi kids,

    I've been doing offline for a while, and have started selling mobile. I am doing mostly walk-ins, and some cold-calling.

    I want to leverage my selling, and so am looking to bring in salesmen.

    I wanted some advice if any of you stars have any - do I hire:

    a) Work-from-home, commission-only agents?

    OR -

    b) Get a business plan together, get a bank loan, get an office and hire professional salemen?

    The reason I'm asking, is for a previous business I had, I took on commission-only sales staff, who worked from home/in the field. I didn't have an office - and still don't.

    The problem is, this was the downfall of my business. The percentage of people who actually did anything was so tiny, it was staggering. Even at the start of the recession, too; I thought people would be hungry for work.

    I lost tonnes of money and time this way, by putting faith in people that frankly were a waste of time and space.

    The issue I have with the alternative, is that although I'll be taking on a much higher calibre of salesman, I'll be having to deal with nonsense like staff insurance, health and safety, tax, leave, employee rights, and all that other bureaucratic, nannying rubbish - as well as having an office to run.

    Does anyone have any insight into this?

    I'm not necessarily looking for the answers - as I know there isn't ever one answer. I'm more looking for people's experience in this arena.

    Hugs and smoochies to the best answer.


    I hired and trained sales people nationwide for years...

    I would do NEITHER. salaried sales people are typically low producers or do the minimum...the very nature of being a salesman is to be commission focused


    However..if you are going to hire comm salespeople you MUST have criteria for hiring, training inside and on the road and weekly support with accountability

    There is an eaasier way to start and have sales producers hand off qualified buyers to you... save the work and the expense

    If I can help pm me

    All the best

    Dr B
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    • Profile picture of the author npk
      I've done both these models before as well. Here are the pros and cons of both.

      Virtual: as I see it, no supervision. This could prove problematic, as you have no way to verify that your employees are actually working.

      Office: You need to be able to crack the whip. It is true; salesmen by definition are lazy, but rarely, you do happen upon a top producer. Supervision is key--the employees need to understand that you have an investment on the line; and having a formal "office" conveys that image to the employee.

      Of course, you can proceed a number of ways. What I would do is make the dials yourself initially. When you can, get an office. It doesn't need to shimmer with glitter and gold, it just needs to be functional with a decent location. No need to spend more than you have to.

      I feel an office is important if nothing else, to be able to mentor and convey to employees that you are serious about the business. 100% virtual, in my book, simply cannot provide the guarantees I need.

      Stick with as close to a one call close as you can, as it will prove much simpler to train the hires. This business is one of turnover, and it cannot be helped. Either people work out or they won't, but if you pay crap then no one will stay. I have no idea what a good wage in the UK is, but here in the midwest, I pay $8/hour with a bonus and plenty of smoke breaks.
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      • Profile picture of the author John Durham
        Originally Posted by npk View Post


        Virtual: as I see it, no supervision. This could prove problematic, as you have no way to verify that your employees are actually working.
        Actually with todays remote dialer solutions you can monitor 20 telemarketers from your spare bedroom, watch all their stats all day in real time, pop in on them and tell them to pick up the pace...and even tap into their calls and listen, as well as keep track of their dialing time and log in times...the whole thing.

        You actually CAN monitor virtual, work from home phone sales people now... It will only cost you about 100 dollars per virtual workstation per month or less.

        Not aff link >>> http://marketdialer.com/features.php
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        • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
          Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

          Actually with todays remote dialer solutions you can monitor 20 telemarketers from your spare bedroom, watch all their stats all day in real time, pop in on them and tell them to pick up the pace...and even tap into their calls and listen, as well as keep track of their dialing time and log in times...the whole thing.

          You actually CAN monitor virtual, work from home phone sales people now... It will only cost you about 100 dollars per virtual workstation per month or less.

          Not aff link >>> Market Dialer
          Hi John,

          $100pm? I'm going to have to check that out.

          Thanks for your feedback in this thread. I read your free ebook on cold-calling, and it got me more excited about cold-calling than anything else. I recommend that guide to anyone looking to go down this road.

          I see your posts a lot on the forum, and you have time for everyone, so thank you.

          Seems the best bet is to go virtual, and take it from there. The technology is there - and cheap, so why not, it seems.

          Thanks again.

          P.S. I would hit the 'THANKS' button, but it seems to be disabled for me at the moment for some reason (are there limits to using it?).
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          Yours in prosperity,
          Skochy - The Musical Salesman

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          • Profile picture of the author John Durham
            Originally Posted by Scotty Stevens View Post

            I would hit the 'THANKS' button, but it seems to be disabled for me at the moment for some reason (are there limits to using it?).
            Yeah There are limits, I think you can only be thankful to the tune of 15 per day.

            This dialer is owned by the company who recently purchased my forum... I have used them for years before that though, because I really like their dialer solution. Thats how I made the contact back around 2007 when I started using them for my telemarketers.

            Some will say its expensive who are spending 20 bucks per day on call fire... the entry level for call fire is cheaper, but if you are calling everyday then Safesoft (Market Dialer) is much cheaper. They may actually be a little over 100.00 but there are TONS of solutions out there, at all kinds of prices, some almost GIVE it away.

            Ps. I dont really HAVE time for everyone, but I take as much as I can for stuff that I can actually help with.

            There are alot of threads I ignore, just add value where there is something that I feel I can really add to.
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
      Originally Posted by startup View Post

      I hired and trained sales people nationwide for years...

      I would do NEITHER. salaried sales people are typically low producers or do the minimum...the very nature of being a salesman is to be commission focused


      However..if you are going to hire comm salespeople you MUST have criteria for hiring, training inside and on the road and weekly support with accountability

      There is an eaasier way to start and have sales producers hand off qualified buyers to you... save the work and the expense

      If I can help pm me

      All the best

      Dr B
      Thanks for the feedback, Dr B. Noted.
      Signature

      Yours in prosperity,
      Skochy - The Musical Salesman

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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Business online, or in the "offline" market... is the same as "offline business"... its just that we operate alot online...

    There are thousands of examples of companies that hire people both ways...Go look at successful ones, and do it like they do.

    Hiring and recruiting is a thousand year old act... there is plenty of experience to draw from. Either way works.

    Both ways on different operating systems...you wont find a new way on the internet, its just hiring and recruiting, just like everyone else does.

    Look at some offline companies and see what works for them.

    A: Advertising
    B: Interviewing
    C: Daily sales meetings and motivation.
    D: Sellable product
    E: Attractive commission plan
    F: Motivational training, and education about the product and the prospects.

    Some pay hourly, others pay 100% commission. It all works. Find a company that does what you have in mind and do it like they do.

    -John

    Ps. The "Problems" of hiring and recruiting are the exact same problems that every sales organization in the world deals with, and for most its a TOP priority, its the meat and potatoes, and there is no silver bullet that makes it any less complicated to find good people. Even multimillion dollar companies have to recruit fulltime and place alot of energy into it.

    Many companies swith back and forth on compensation plans like people change underwear... Its just testing, constantly to see what works best until you get it working.

    Both ways work, but you have to WORK at making them work no matter which way you go. If not then EVERYONE would have a great sales force.

    Hiring, recruiting and training is a mastery, and a fulltime wheel that should always be turning.

    Nobody likes these kinds of answers... but even when I have managed companies that were twenty years old... Hiring, recruiting, refining the compensation plan to be more motivational... was always a main priority, and they continue to refine the way they do it and test.

    It's probably something that you will perpetually change, the thing to do is just try some ways...and keep changing things till they work...until they stop working, then change them again.

    Personally I want to hire online... but Its up to me to test things till it works.

    Does it work?

    Yes, anything works when you have figured out how to make it work for YOU, but even things that WORK, dont work till you master them. Much like playing guitar, you can "know" how to do something, but you have to spend lots of time with your hands around the neck to make that knowledge work for you.

    Amway can teach you how to successfully pitch door to door, but you still have to refine your voice inflections, and presentation...until it works for YOU.

    I know these answers arent the most popular.

    -John
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
      Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

      Business online, or in the "offline" market... is the same as "offline business"... its just that we operate alot online...

      There are thousands of examples of companies that hire people both ways...Go look at successful ones, and do it like they do.

      Hiring and recruiting is a thousand year old act... there is plenty of experience to draw from. Either way works.

      Both ways on different operating systems...you wont find a new way on the internet, its just hiring and recruiting, just like everyone else does.

      Look at some offline companies and see what works for them.

      A: Advertising
      B: Interviewing
      C: Daily sales meetings and motivation.
      D: Sellable product
      E: Attractive commission plan
      F: Motivational training, and education about the product and the prospects.

      Some pay hourly, others pay 100% commission. It all works. Find a company that does what you have in mind and do it like they do.

      -John

      Ps. The "Problems" of hiring and recruiting are the exact same problems that every sales organization in the world deals with, and for most its a TOP priority, its the meat and potatoes, and there is no silver bullet that makes it any less complicated to find good people. Even multimillion dollar companies have to recruit fulltime and place alot of energy into it.

      Many companies swith back and forth on compensation plans like people change underwear... Its just testing, constantly to see what works best until you get it working.

      Both ways work, but you have to WORK at making them work no matter which way you go. If not then EVERYONE would have a great sales force.

      Hiring, recruiting and training is a mastery, and a fulltime wheel that should always be turning.

      Nobody likes these kinds of answers... but even when I have managed companies that were twenty years old... Hiring, recruiting, refining the compensation plan to be more motivational... was always a main priority, and they continue to refine the way they do it and test.

      It's probably something that you will perpetually change, the thing to do is just try some ways...and keep changing things till they work...until they stop working, then change them again.

      Personally I want to hire online... but Its up to me to test things till it works.

      Does it work?

      Yes, anything works when you have figured out how to make it work for YOU, but even things that WORK, dont work till you master them. Much like playing guitar, you can "know" how to do something, but you have to spend lots of time with your hands around the neck to make that knowledge work for you.

      Amway can teach you how to successfully pitch door to door, but you still have to refine your voice inflections, and presentation...until it works for YOU.

      I know these answers arent the most popular.

      -John
      Thanks, John.

      I guess the 'secret' is to just start it and calibrate with feedback.

      Thanks for your time.
      Signature

      Yours in prosperity,
      Skochy - The Musical Salesman

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