Part-Time Salespeople… Winners or Losers?

The question of whether or not to hire part-time salespeople is one that often comes up for many sales managers and it’s a good question.

Mind you, some sales managers feel their full-time salespeople only work part-time but that’s a problem and an article for another time!

Part-timers are an Attractive Proposition

The lure of hiring part-timers is strong, particularly if they are on a commission basis. After all, as part-time employees, they’re mostly out of your hair (if, as a sales manager, you have any hair left). And being on commission means they won’t cost you anything if they don’t make any sales.

But wait. The idea of having salespeople, part-time or otherwise, is to get sales isn’t it? It’s not to hire a bunch of sales gypsies who wander from place to place trying to find the occasional sale. Of course, these people get a sale now and then but, remember, even a blind squirrel will find the occasional nut! Selling shouldn’t be more chance or luck than skill.

What you want are people out in the field beating the bushes for opportunities that they can turn into closed sales. Can part-timers do that? They can, but they rarely do. Why? Because they’re part-time. Let me explain.

Three Reasons Part-timers May Not Work Out

First off, while there are many reasons for taking a part-time job, not needing the income from a full-time one is high on the list.

Another reason is not really needing a job but wanting to be employed. Put another way, these are people who want to be employed but who don’t want to work. You may already have a few of those people now!

Of course, there are those people who take part-time work to augment their income from their main job. While I admire their intentions, I also realize that holding two jobs can be physically and emotionally tiring and tired people don’t sell well. Basically, they’re often too pooped to sell.

Selling is Difficult

You’ll probably agree that selling isn’t particularly easy. It’s more than just going around and talking to people all day long.

If you’re in retail sales where more customers make a buy than are sold to, you’ve got it relatively easy. (There are those who would consider the term “retail sales” an oxymoron!)

Outbound salespeople have to go out and find people who want their products and services. That’s a completely different and much more difficult situation for many salespeople and especially for part-timers.

Just trying to find folks who want or need what you’re selling can be a real challenge. Then, when you do find them, you need to get them to listen to your story. If you get that far without getting rejected, you have to overcome their objections in your attempt to help them make an informed buying decision. If you survive all that, you’re exhausted!

I know that selling shouldn’t be this problematic, but it is for those part-timers who are untrained and don’t know how to take control of the selling/buying process.

After hearing a litany of, “I’m not interested”, “I don’t need any”, “Your price is too high”, “Not today”, “Call back another time”, etc., a person can get downright depressed and start having extended coffee breaks at Tim Horton’s with all the other depressed part- (and full-) time salespeople.

It’s not that these people are slackers, although some might be. It’s that selling is difficult and requires a commitment of time and energy ingredients that part-timers may not have a lot of.

So, while they’re doing little or nothing, you’re pulling out what’s left of your hair managing them. Actually, you’re not really managing them. You’re spending time trying to find out what they are and are not doing. This is time that you could be spending on more profitable activities like coaching the salesperson who wants or needs your assistance and has made the commitment to selling.

Commission-only Isn’t the Answer

I’m sure there’s someone out there who is thinking, “No sweat. I just put them on commission-only, turn them loose, and let them sink or swim, so I’m not losing any time or money on non-performers.” Not necessarily true.

Sure, you didn’t pay them for the sales they didn’t get, but how much business did you not get because of them?

You hire salespeople, full or part-time, to get sales. If someone can’t or won’t get sales for you, help the person move on to a job that’s better suited for his or her talents or lack thereof.

Are all part-timers’ losers? Not by any means. But, as a general rule, they don’t usually work out for some of the reasons I’ve mentioned above and several more that I haven’t covered.

Hire with Caution

If you’re going to use part-timers, hire with caution. Make sure you know why they want part-time work. Make sure they know that selling is a challenging profession that needs a commitment on their part if they are to succeed. Set performance standards such as the number of calls or sales they are expected to make in a day, week, or month. Monitor their performance. Help them be successful.

Bottom Line

Part-timers can work out well and can be winners if you hire smart and manage creatively.