General InformationHow Our Zero-Commission Pay System Attracts Better “Salespeople”

June 6, 2020
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Commissioned-Based Pay Leads To Pushy Salespeople. We Learned That Lesson The Hard Way.

BY JEFF BROOKS, FOUNDER

The bad reviews made me sick. They hurt my soul.

We were doing everything right. Installation. Project management. Communication. It was all top-notch.

Still, we’re getting negative online reviews way too frequently. And they all had an underlying theme: People hated our sales process.

Before I get into why, I should tell you how commission-based salaries in this industry work.

Paying salespeople on commission is the norm in the remodeling industry… and it’s the reason so many salespeople are pushy and unpleasant. They have to get a constant stream of “yeses” to put food on the table. This desperation drives many of them to use high-pressure tactics, compliance tricks, and whatever else they can to get you to sign on the dotted line during the appointment.

Compounding the problem of high pressure are the “sales gangsters”. These are the fast-talking, arm-twisting guys who’d sell their soul for a “yes.” Sales gangsters aren’t desperate to put food on the table—they make A LOT of money. And they don’t let pesky things like morals get in the way of them squeezing every last penny out of you. They’ll do and say whatever it takes to close. WHATEVER. IT. TAKES.

Here’s the bottom line: Whether you’re dealing with a desperate salesperson or depraved sales gangster, YOU lose. You’re going to get pressured into buying. It’s simply the nature of the commission-based-salary beast.

Now that I’ve “set the scene,” I’ll tell you why some homeowners used to dislike the Solid State sales process… and why everyone loves it today.

When I founded Solid State Construction in 2006, our salespeople’s salary was commission-based. It was the industry standard, so I figured it would be fine for mycompany—especially since I instructed my salespeople to educate homeowners rather than pressure them.

Wrong.

Commission-based pay attracts sales gangsters like flames attract moths. The quality of candidate we were getting for our sales positions left a lot to be desired. But being a new company, we didn’t have much choice in who we hired. In a crate of bad apples, I had to pick the ones that were the least rotten.

We had some bad apples, which left a sour taste in our customers’ mouths.
We had some bad apples, which left a sour taste in our customers’ mouths.

As you can imagine, our salespeople were pushy and high pressure. Homeowners didn’t like them, the experience, or—as a result—our company. So the negative online reviews gradually piled up.

Eventually, I said enough was enough. Not just because of the poor online reviews, but because I genuinely felt awful about what I was putting my customers through. Arm twisting and sales tricks? Those run completely counter to my values.

So CFO Erika Barnish and I took some radical steps… steps that radically improved our customers’ sales experience.

First: We fired all the sales gangsters on staff. We needed to wipe the slate clean. There’d be no room for their kind aboard the ship. Moving forward, we’d have Project Consultants—a sort of “salesperson evolved” whose focus would be ALL about the customer’s needs, comfort, and experience.

Second: We eliminated commissions. We created a pay structure that consisted of a set salary plus bonuses based on customer-focused achievements. This took the pressure off my people to SELL SELL SELL. They could now take their time to really sit down with and listen to the homeowner to determine their needs.

Third: We created a comprehensive, three-week sales training program for all new Project Consultants. This training involves written tests, roleplaying as customers, and thorough education in the Solid State Core Values. Project Consultants don’t step foot in a customer’s home until they pass this training. And unlike many contractors, we start paying our new hires during training. It’s only right!

Almost as soon as we implemented these protocols, something magical happened—we started getting applications MUCH better candidates for open positions. Word quickly spread of our revamped sales process and how we treated both our Project Consultants and customers. This, in turn, attracted the right type of people to our company… the ones who valued honesty, integrity, compassion, and kindness.

As a result, we stopped getting negative online reviews about pushy salespeople. Homeowners now LOVE how our Project Consultants help them through the design process of their remodel.

For proof, I’ll leave you with a few customer reviews below about our project consultations. You can also get to know some of our Project Consultants on our Meet The Team page. After that, get in touch for your free project consultation. We would be honored to discuss your project with you.

What Customers Say About Our Project Consultations…

“Because I knew next to nothing about the process of re-siding a very old house, I appreciated the information, time, and handholding given me by Solid State Construction. They did a thorough and professional job of examining my property, explained everything, and presented to me a detailed estimate and contract.” – Natalie M.


“Solid State Construction (SSC) is a trustworthy, honest, responsive, and professional organization who completed multiple projects for us with a very high degree of craftsmanship.” – Matthew M.


“We had a great experience with Solid State Construction. The person who did the estimate was a class above our normal carpenter’s roofer as he did a complete walkthrough and breakdown of the estimate for us.Solid State did a fantastic job of explaining how we could remedy the lack of venting issue we had.” – Greg L.

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