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A few years ago, there were all kinds of PCB salespeople on the street. These were good salespeople, seasoned veterans with proven track records who had been victimized twice. First, a stream of company mergers left them high and dry when the conquering company went with its own sales force and let the victim company’s sales team go to avoid redundancy. Then the great recession finished the job, and more board shops went out of business, forcing more salespeople to hit the street.
But now business is back, people are investing in their companies again and now they are calling me looking for salespeople because they’re having a hard time finding a few good men and women.
So, where did they go, these good, experienced salespeople? Some have had it and have left our industry to find better and more stable positions. Others have just plain given up and settled for something in other fields altogether, and some just got older and retired.
But for the rest of you out there, the ones who had a great sales job once, were doing a pretty good job, and still have the intoxicating thrill of the hunt flowing through your blood, where are you? The industry is looking for you to come home and start selling PCBs again. It’s time you realized that the sound you hear is the whirring of a new Schmoll drill machine. The shops are running again and they need your help. They need you out there fighting for their company in this great new era of Board Wars.
Things are different now. Those company presidents and owners want you back; they are looking for you and they are ready to make some deals. Yes, things have changed, and companies are more flexible. They want more feet on the street and they are willing to make it work for you.
There are still the traditional deals. You go to work for a company and they give you a territory, a salary, some commission points and expenses and off you go. Yes, those jobs are out there right now. Then there are some more creative deals for those of you who want to be a little more independent. There are hybrid deals available: A company is willing to pay a small retainer and reduced commissions to get you back in the field. They will do this for six months or a year depending on how long it will take you to get to a full annual revenue rate on your commissions alone.
Now this is a pretty good deal for both parties. The company gets a seasoned sales professional at a reduced rate and they have more control over that person than if he were an independent rep. They can ask him to turn in reports, create a forecast, and attend meetings (at the company’s expense, of course). It’s also a good deal for the hybrid salesperson as he can represent other non-competing lines, even other board shops if they complement one another rather than compete with one another. The salesperson can even make several hybrid deals so that he has a pretty good monthly income coming in. In many cases this type of arrangement allows a salesperson to become a rep without going through his life savings in those first two years (assuming he has any life savings left.) The hybrid deal works very well for salespeople coming back into the industry as well as existing reps who want to take on new lines but need a little financial boost to help with that crucial first year of lead generation and prospecting.
Some companies are willing to turn over existing accounts. This is something that I highly recommend. Many reps and hybrid salespeople are willing to take a reduced commission rate to take over those current accounts. This only makes sense. When I'm helping companies with their sales efforts, I always urge them to make this arrangement. First, a real live salesperson calling on an account is always better than one doing it over the phone. Second, the chances of growing that account beyond the current sales rate is far greater with a salesperson with skin in the game. It only makes sense.
Calling all salespeople! Come on back! There are good opportunities out there for the right experienced sales professionals. If you’re willing to put in the time and work, get out there and start looking. I know you want to; I know you can’t stay away. You just love the smell of solder mask in the morning.
It’s only common sense.