Cream of the Crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

We’re all aware of the current hiring challenges companies across numerous industries are facing. In the landscape industry, it’s especially prevalent, as manual labor is a driving force behind every revenue stream.

However, before you can expect labor to perform, you first need top-notch salespeople to successfully sell your services. Labor shortage or not, finding the right salespeople for your team can be tough.

Creating a cohesive sales team is more complex than it seems, and you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to those who represent your company or your brand. As with the entirety of your business, you can benefit greatly by quantifying the sales hiring process with key qualities you identify with and value.

Think outside the box.

Hiring the first cookie-cutter applicant that walks through your front door won’t do. You are looking for the rock star who is going to tenaciously acquire new business. In doing so, you may want to stray from the norm with a couple of these tips.

Consider hiring someone outside of the landscape industry. Sales professionals come from many backgrounds, and many great sales professionals find themselves working in various industries. Great sales professionals can sell anything, so a jump from tech or medical to landscaping might be the refresher they need. Do not pigeonhole your search by narrowing it down to just one industry.

Role play: “sell me this pen.” There is no better way to observe a salesperson than to see them in action, so put them in a scenario where they must sell you something based on value. If they can close you under pressure, they can probably close a prospective client with time and resources at their disposal.

When looking for salespeople, ideal candidates should be self-sufficient, technology savvy and charismatic.

Personality test: Myers-Briggs. While different sales professionals with different personalities employ different tactics and can be effective in a myriad of ways, you should know how they will fit into your sales team. For example, a Myers-Briggs personality test will tell you if your prospect is an introvert, extrovert or relies more on their thinking vs. feeling.

Understanding of digital sales tools. In the era of “Sales 2.0,” your sales and marketing efforts must be nicely integrated with a variety of technologies. A good salesperson should be well versed in the digital world and quick to learn new digital sales tools.

What they really need to know.

There used to be a stigma surrounding experience or a degree in the landscape industry. While this can be helpful, this is not necessarily the expertise they need to be successful. You should be able to teach them what they need to know about your business and easily get the job done. These days, expertise and experience rule, and there are a few skills your salespeople should possess that will help them perform.

Value-based selling. The best sales professionals are adept at identifying the true reluctance of a potential client and offering a solution. You want a sales professional that will emphasize the discovery process and use the information gathered throughout the rest of the sales process. Oftentimes discovery is overlooked, but to provide a solution, you must know their problem.

Presentation: tools and ability. Knowing how to use digital tools is vital, particularly when it comes to presentations. A good salesperson should be well-equipped not only to create and operate presentations but be comfortable confidently speaking in front of groups. They should have a variety of presentation styles in their arsenal for differing situations. Pitching is prime time in sales, and it is hard to teach charisma.

Prospecting: old vs. new. The line between sales and marketing is murky with debate on where responsibility falls to generate leads. A salesperson that is comfortable producing their own leads is going to be much more self-sufficient and effective than one who cannot.

Great sales professionals should not only be able to sell your landscape services, but also to sell themselves to you. Ultimately, think of yourself as a potential client as that is how they should treat you. Let them work to win your business and join your team.