The Complete Guide on How To Hire Roofing Salespeople
You rely on salespeople to sell your roofing services to homeowners. In turn, your salespeople rely on you to give them the support they need to be successful. To sell as much as possible, they need resources to bolster their sales efforts as well as a fair working environment. Companies that can provide resources, such as roofing leads, great training and strong teamwork, can attract and retain top talent. If you’re careful about hiring salespeople, you can achieve stronger results, fill up your calendar with more work and, overall, raise your roofing business’s revenue. If you’ve ever posted a job listing online and been frustrated with the lack of response from qualified candidates, or if you’ve ever hired salespeople and found that their performance was much worse than you expected, we have advice for you. Here’s how to improve your hiring process to get better candidates to achieve better results for your business.
Should You Choose an Independent Contract for Roofing Sales?
Before you post a job or design your interview process, you need to know if you’re looking for an employee or an independent contractor. Roofing companies may choose to hire permanent sales employees or work with independent contractors who offer roofing sales services. Many roofers avoid hiring permanent sales employees because they have previously been disappointed by the results of these employees.
You can assist employees in building up their selling skills, which we will expand on below. Choosing a naturally more talented salesperson at the start can help too, and we will also discuss techniques to do that as well.
There are downsides to hiring sales contractors. You may not be able to rely on them to work when and where you need them to. It may also be harder to integrate them into your business as a whole because they may be used to working with other estimating guidelines, CRM software and other business practices. If you struggle with this, it may undermine your brand, as salespeople are typically the first contact your potential customers have with your company.
If you do choose to hire independent contractors as salespeople, it is essential to review that decision with your lawyer and ensure that your arrangement is legitimately and properly characterized as an independent contractor relationship, both for tax purposes and for general employment law considerations. Even if you have a contract that specifies otherwise, the law may decide that you have an employee-employer relationship with your contractor. Then, you may be liable for penalties and taxes, and you may be subject to employment statutes and employment laws in your jurisdiction which govern the relationship.
The Skills of a Roofing Salesperson
When you start looking for a salesperson, it is essential to nail down the skills you think they’ll need. First, of course, you want to find a salesperson who will close a lot of contracts and help you grow sales and revenue. There are a handful of characteristics that make up an ideal salesperson, including interpersonal soft skills, like negotiation, confidence talking to prospects and persuasion. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to someone else’s list of characteristics for their ideal salesperson. Ultimately, the best roofing salesperson for you is the one who fits your needs. So, it’s wise to spend some time thinking about what those needs are so you can recognize your own ideal salesperson when you meet them.
For example, roofing companies might want an independent salesperson or perhaps someone who is more of a team player. If you need to be hands-off and want someone with a consistent track record, then you’re probably looking for a more independent salesperson. But, if you have a pre-existing sales team and great training resources, then you might be looking more for a team player who has less experience and will take coaching. If you’re not confident in your current training regimen, you might want a salesperson who has worked with roofing before. Or you could be looking for a salesperson who has leadership skills or the potential to lead a sales team for you eventually.
Don’t get bogged down looking for a former roofer who is looking to transition to sales. These are relatively rare, and, even if you find them, roofing knowledge does not necessarily ensure they will perform well on the sales end. It may be easier to train new salespeople about roofing than to train roofers about sales.
How To Find Applicants
If labor conditions are less than favorable in your area, you may end up with only a handful of applicants. This low number may make you compromise and choose someone who you don’t feel is right for the role just because they are the best person out of those who applied. How do you ensure that you receive a lot of resumes? There are a few different places where you can advertise your position to try and get more applicants.
First is, of course, adding your position to job boards. There are many job boards online with varying levels of traffic and which attract different kinds of applicants. Options include:
- Simply Hired.
You may want to try multiple job boards and see which ones get you the most qualified applicants. You could then limit your job search to just those boards that did best next time.
Online postings aren’t your only option. Many roofers work with recruiters or employment agencies to connect with potential candidates. You may prefer to work with employment agencies that target specific groups of people, such as veterans or women. Or you may choose to work with agencies that specialize in placing people in construction and related fields. There are a few companies that specialize in roofing sales recruiting too. If you find yourself overwhelmed by applicants, hiring a recruiting company to sort through them for you may be a wise way to reduce the time you spend on hiring.
There is a third option to find more candidates. You can ask your existing employees to refer their family members or friends to the position. A simple request may work, but some companies take it further and offer employees cash rewards for referring successful candidates.
Writing Your Job Description
If you do post a job online, you’ll need to write a job description. A job description serves a few purposes. It should engage the right kind of candidate, give them a fair understanding of what the job entails, what it pays, which portion is commission and what your company culture is like. You can also view other companies’ job descriptions to get an idea of what they’re posting online. However, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to copy and paste their description. Ideally, your job description would reflect your company and help you find salespeople with the unique mix of skills that you’re looking for.
Here are the different components of a job description that you’ll likely want to include in your posts:
- Job title: Likely, you’ll choose some variant of “roofing salesperson.” You may want to add a modifier like “junior,” “senior” or “experienced.” Also, indicate whether you’re looking for an independent contractor or a freelance salesperson.
- Payment structure and amount: It’s essential to be upfront about the amount you offer in pay and the payment structure so that you don’t waste time interviewing people who are not comfortable with it. If you’re offering candidates different pay based on their experience, give a range of pay. You may also want to list benefits if you offer a full-time position.
- Job location and hours: Salespeople need to know where they’ll be working and how far you will expect them to travel. You may want to list cities in your service area. Applicants will also want to know how many hours you will expect them to put in per week and whether or not they will be working evenings and weekends.
- Company information: The best employees care about the company they work for and want to make sure that they will fit in with your culture. So, it’s a great idea to include a little blurb about your business, what makes you unique, the opportunities your employees will have with you and what your culture is like.
- Job duties or responsibilities: There is a lot of information you should include here. What will your salesperson be responsible for? Are there sales goals they must hit and what kind of support do you offer to help them achieve those sales goals? It is especially important to mention training for entry-level sales goals so that those without experience are more confident applying. Also, mention if your salesperson will mainly be independent or part of a team. Will they be going door to door, cold calling, handling inbound calls or using another sales technique? Will they be expected to follow up with the homeowner after the sale while the roofers are working? Will they be part of the final walk-through after the roofing work is done? Will they be expected to do any administrative duties for their sales?
- Necessary qualifications and skills: Here, you list the qualifications or skills that you absolutely need your salesperson to have. These might include a certain level of education (usually high school for sales positions) or a certain amount of experience in making sales or working with roofing products. You might also include soft skills, such as negotiation, positive attitude, motivation, time management skills and more.
- Other helpful qualifications and skills: If, in addition to the necessary qualifications, you would prefer your prospective salespeople to have certain additional skills and experience, you can list them here. Perhaps you would prefer a candidate who has more sales experience, who used to be a roofer or who has completed a specific sales training program before. Add those details so that candidates with those qualifications will be more likely to apply.
Now that you have a stack of resumes on your desk, how do you determine whom to bring in for an interview? So much of sales is in-person charisma, so you may end up doing many interviews to assess candidates. That said, too many interviews can also be a waste of your time and a waste of time for the applicants you don’t hire. You can hire a recruiting company to help you go through them or do it yourself.
It can be overwhelming to look through all of the resumes, try to rank them or try to compare different criteria across them. Instead, you can sort through them faster by first picking three essential criteria they need to meet and simply removing those resumes that don’t fit these criteria. Then, if you don’t have many resumes that fit your criteria, you can delve back into the discarded pile.
What happens when you have too many resumes that meet your criteria? You can add in some more criteria to screen out people. Or you can call them for some pre-interview screening. You may be able to get a sense of charisma and passion over the phone or through a video call. Or you may choose to ask them a few questions that are important to you.
Try not to make the pre-interview screening take too long. Your best candidates will have other options and may find another job before you get back to them. In addition, you may lose candidates who feel like they have other options and simply don’t want to complete a time-consuming hiring process.
Interview Questions for Roofing Sales
Most people start interviews with simple questions meant to make the candidate comfortable, like “What can you tell me about yourself?” From there, it’s wise to get more specific and make use of the many different kinds of interview questions.
Behavioral questions are most popular. These are where you ask someone how they acted when confronted with a common situation in the past. As the interviewer, you should also follow up to find out how the situation resolved.
Examples of behavioral questions for roofing salespeople include:
- How have you responded to criticism of your sales technique in the past?
- Have you ever been disappointed in your sales output and what did you do about it?
- Can you give me an example of a time you upsold a client on an expensive upgrade?
- Have you ever been in a leadership position on a sales team and what challenges did you face?
- Have you ever gone through a period where you lacked motivation and how did you handle it?
You may also want to ask informational questions that can help you assess if the candidate is right for your role. Examples of informational questions include:
- Why do you feel you’re a good fit for this company or role?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- How do you feel about making cold calls?
- How comfortable are you talking face to face to prospects?
- What kind of skills do you have when pitching, presenting, negotiating and closing?
- What draws you to sales positions?
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- How would your former boss describe you?
Then, there are competency questions, those designed to help you assess if the applicant has the qualifications and skills that they say they do. Examples of these questions include:
- You attended this sales course or class. What did you learn there?
- You have a strong sales record. How did you achieve it?
- How did you land your biggest sale to date?
- You were a sales representative at another roofing company. What was that experience like?
- Sell me this pen or another object nearby.
How Much To Pay a Roofing Salesperson
Payment schemes for salespeople should be competitive with other sales jobs and high enough to motivate your staff. Salesmen and saleswomen of the same level of experience and performance should earn the same pay.
Ideally, these pay scales should also be simple enough that a salesperson always knows what they just made if they close a sale on a roof. However, there are so many ways to pay a salesperson that they often get too complicated. First, you should know that there are two components to most sales pay scales: fixed and variable.
Fixed pay is also called base pay. It is the amount that a salesperson makes per hour regardless of whether they sell or not. Offering base pay helps you attract and support new sales talent who may not be as comfortable working entirely off commission. You can also offer base pay as a justification for sales caps. The most talented salespeople may not want to accept a sales cap unless they also have a guarantee of making a certain amount of money when it’s not roofing season. In fact, you may find that you need to offer more experienced salespeople less fixed pay and more variable pay to attract top talent.
Variable pay is the amount of money a salesperson makes per sale. It’s commission. You may want to offer salespeople a fixed amount per sale they make or a percentage of the sale as a whole. Percentages are more common as they motivate salespeople to upsell a better-quality shingle to homeowners.
Metrics for Commission
You have a choice of several metrics to base the commission on: revenue, gross margin and profit. Revenue is the income of the business from a sale or the total amount that you quote the client. Giving salespeople a share of revenue makes it very simple for them to calculate their share. However, it tends to motivate salespeople to offer discounts or cheaper materials. They would rather make a smaller sale than not make one at all. That’s natural, but it can hurt your bottom line, as you likely make a smaller margin on cheaper materials and certainly make less when your salespeople offer discounts. You can prohibit your salespeople from offering sales, but they are still less likely to talk homeowners into premium shingles with this pay strategy.
Gross margin is your revenue minus your costs. In a roofer’s case, your gross margin is the amount you charge the homeowner minus the cost of buying the roofing materials and paying your roofers. If you’re comfortable revealing these costs, or a general gross margin percentage, to your salespeople, this can be an ideal metric on which to base commission. Salespeople will see how much their own commission drops when they make a smaller scale and will be highly motivated to sell the jobs with the largest gross margin. Using gross margin can help align your salespeople’s interests with the interests of the company.
Profit is a more specific metric that takes into account every cost that you have, including things like taxes, licensing fees, marketing, office bills and more. You have to trust your salespeople quite a bit to give them this detailed information. However, when you base their commission on profit, your salespeople will understand even better which kinds of jobs are the most profitable for you, and they will be the most motivated to land those jobs.
How To Structure Your Salespeople’s Pay
What combination of fixed and variable pay should you offer? For an inexperienced salesperson, you may want to offer only 10-20% variable pay. Experienced salespeople may be more comfortable with 50% or more variable pay. Roofers typically pay independent contractors entirely in commission or profit-sharing.
No matter what combination of fixed and variable salary you offer your salespeople, you should ensure that the typical salesperson will earn a competitive salary with it, or you’ll quickly lose talent. Discover what other roofing companies in your area offer and match or exceed it where possible. Keep in mind that, according to Payscale, the average salesperson in the United States makes a base salary of $45,947 per year.
Also keep in mind that, according to ZipRecruiter, the average roofing sales representative makes an average of $73,994 per year, considerably more than salespeople in other industries. While half make less than this, you may still find that you need to offer more than the other sales jobs in your area to be competitive.
Offering Roofing Leads
Many roofing companies will offer their salespeople, whether staff or contract, roofing leads. You’ve already been contacted by a homeowner for some kind of roofing work, so you pass their information on to your salesperson who needs to finalize the sale. Independent salespeople will expect a certain number of leads per month to help keep their performance strong. However, you can also pay them less for these leads as they require less work from the salesperson and are more likely to convert into a sale compared to cold calling.
Onboarding Your Salesperson
Selecting your salesperson and asking him or her to sign your starting papers isn’t the end of the hiring process, or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Providing your roofer with proper training and support through a formal onboarding process will help them achieve your sales goals faster and increase their job satisfaction. It’s part paperwork, part training, and part orientation. After the onboarding process, your employees should have a complete understanding of your expectations and how they can achieve them.
Here are the components of a strong onboarding process for roofing companies:
- Legal paperwork: It’s always wise to talk to your lawyer about what kind of contracts and agreements you need your employees to sign. You may want salespeople who are employees to sign non-compete/non-solicitation clauses or nondisclosure agreements to help retain their talent and keep sensitive information about your business safe, and your lawyer can advise you as to the enforceability of your desired non-compete/non-solicitation clauses.
- Introductions: Your employees need to know who will supervise them and where they should go to ask for help. It’s wise to spend the time introducing them to the major people they will need to know. Introductions are even more important in a larger company where it will take time for your new sales employees to learn who these people are.
- Payment structure: Ensure that your sales employees understand how their pay is calculated so that they will be motivated.
- Business and goals: What is your company all about? Explain its history, the next steps for your company and how your salespeople will contribute to your goals or growth.
- Roofing education: Salespeople who don’t have roofing experience will need information about roofing to speak authoritatively to homeowners and build trust. You may find that teaching salespeople about the components of a roof, can help them make sales, especially when they relate to the aesthetics or performance of the roof.
- Estimating skills: If your salesperson is involved in the estimating process, they will need to know how to estimate a roofing job.
- Safety training: If they will be getting on the roof when estimating, be sure they understand and comply with all relevant safety standards.
- Sales training: It is wise to give your employees sales training even if they have experience. It is better to rely on having a sales system that works instead of a handful of talented salespeople. That’s because it can be a challenge to find naturally gifted salespeople, but much less of a challenge to train average performers.
- Internal policies: If there are any other policies that your business requires your salespeople to follow, such as wearing uniforms, now is the time to set expectations.
- Shadowing: Once you send your inexperienced sales staff into the field, you may want to partner them with more experienced staff from whom they can learn. Now is the time to explain this mentoring and how long it will last.
Hiring and Supporting Sales Staff
After you’ve gone through all the trouble of picking out quality salespeople, don’t let their talents go to waste. The more you can support your salespeople, especially through the training process, the more they will contribute to your company and its success. You should make the same effort hiring roofing employees for your business.