Jan 252014
 
October 2011 planning meeting

An annual CNRG staff annual planning meeting

You are probably visiting this site because of an innovative recruiting campaign. You may have received an email and possibly an automated phone message introducing us to you, or you have been referenced here from another website.

The question you may be asking is: “Is this the right opportunity for me?”

To start — the basics

This is a performance-based, business-to-business advertising sales opportunity. Our most successful representatives earn at the low six figure level. You should expect to earn about $40,000 to $60,000.  We serve the architectural, engineering and construction community.

But this does not come easy.

While we have systems, some training and support, you are working independently, from your own home, and will need to be comfortable in a business-to-business setting, offering advertising and feature profiles in regional construction industry websites and publications. From introduction to start, expect a few weeks set up and co-ordination time.

The process

Initial communication (right now)

The first conversation will be brief. We’ll check to see if you are truly interested, and then co-ordinate a more comprehensive follow-up conversation. If you wish, in the meantime, you can complete your customized sales survey. We’ll be happy to share the results with you, regardless of how you do (and the information will help you in determining other career choices if we aren’t right for you.)

Follow-up conversation and sales survey (one week)

See above.  The sales survey is our way of predicting the likeliness of your succeeding with us. If you don’t score well, but still want to proceed, we’ll be happy to work with you, but we think it best to tell you how things are before you get started.

Preparation, set up and training (two weeks)

This is the time to begin visualizing the work, receive some advance training and most importantly, for us to set up your sales support resources including customized marketing materials, a website geared to your market, and other tools to get you started quickly. You can use this time to develop your prospect lists (this work can be done after hours and in spare time, so you won’t be out of pocket).

Time to sell . . .

Now you can start reaching out, setting up special feature profiles and building relationships within your community.

The work . . .

cold call istockOur sales process involves two stages.  In the first, you co-ordinate special features about relevant businesses and projects. In the second, you will sell advertising to individual subcontractors and suppliers based on strong referrals from owner/clients.. The work can largely be done by phone and email (in fact virtually all individual sales are conducted this way.)

BUT . . it is vital that you connect, communicate and contribute to the community. So you are encouraged to attend and participate in relevant association and community service projects. We’ll suggest which groups and associations are most worthy of joining. (Note that your objective here is absolutely NOT to sell, but to build rapport and community spirit.)

WAIT . . . This is going to take some time, isn’t it?

Yes, you will need to build up your client base, and the sales cycle requires upwards of two months before the first cash orders arrive. On average, an individual feature should result in about $2,000 in revenue — or $400 in commission, so to earn $48,000 a year, you would need to set up 12 features a month, or three features a week. (These numbers are very conservative — features can earn much more than $2,000.)

We’ll help you along the way, however. For the first qualified feature each week, we’ll pay you an advance on commission of $100 — for the second and successive features, we’ll pay you $200 each. (Qualifying features will have supplier lists (with full contact information) of 30 or more names, for businesses and projects with a total annual or project volume of $3 million or more, and will be produced with the consent of the referring organization.) We’ll send you the money right away — so you will have cash in your pocket within a few weeks of joining the organization, and long before we see a cent in revenue from the advertisers.

Mark Buckshon

Mark Buckshon

We’ll also help out with expenses, once you have your first feature in, per week. This can include association fees, postage, phone, and other costs. You should not need to invest anything but your time and energy in the opportunity.

THE FUTURE . . .

Although this opportunity is performance-based, we can consider options including profit-sharing, health benefits and other resources once you are established. You will enjoy a truly worthwhile and lasting opportunity.

SO, what to do . . .

You can call or email us if you are interested. If you want to get a head start, complete the Sales Survey and send it by email to Mark Buckshon at buckshon@cnrgp.com.

Jan 012014
 
florida cover

Here is the text of an email similar to one we will soon send to potentially qualified candidates to be the Florida Construction News associate publisher.

Print

Construction News and Report is a publisher of regional and national business-to-business online magazines and websites for the architectural, engineering and construction community. We have a unique sales opportunity that we thought you might be interested in.

You would be developing a regional construction industry publication in your own community – with a combination of online, print, magazine and web presence. This primarily involves developing relationships and coordinating feature profiles about businesses and projects, followed by selling advertising to suppliers and others interested in enhancing professional relationships. Most of your work will take place during daytime business hours, although it is helpful for you to attend association events and meetings that may occur in the evenings. You would be working independently from your home  with the support of an established publisher that has 25+ years experience.

You can check out one of our publications by visiting this link:

http://www.ncconstructionnews.com and visit the interim Florida Construction News site at http://www.floridaconstructionnews.com.

We offer a performance-based compensation package with $40-50k first year potential, although our leading reps earn $100k+ each year. You will have opportunities for prompt advances against commission based on measurable accomplishments.

If this sounds like a match for you, please reply with a recent version of your resume to chase@cnrgp.com or me at buckshon@cnrgp.com.

Mark Buckshon

Construction News and Report Group of Companies

buckshon@cnrgp.com

Feb 172013
 
ten ways to waste advertising

In the end, we always do better in business when the bulk of our business arises from a combination of repeat and referral clients. This is common-sense.  It is always more expensive (and generally demoralizing) to find new clients, churn them, and then have to find more.

Of course, for those of us involved in sales, we are mandated primarily to “find new business”.  Sometimes the bean-counters are cruel. They see experienced reps with large books of repeat business and wonder why they are paying so much in salary, commissions and bonuses, when the clients just  purchase more and more. Conversely, the salesperson who has a product or service that cannot attract repeat/referral business is caught in a treadmill of frustrating and demoralizing results.

The key to sales success, then, is attract the right clients, make them truly happy, and then build out from their references the necessary referral business.  How do you do this?

First, the obvious, deliver what you promise, and be really responsive when things go wrong.

Then, the more challenging issue — creating value. Our business, for example, sells advertising in publications with modest circulation and where decision-making and even initial inquiries/leads will rarely arise because someone reads an advertisement.  Therefore, we cannot provide many obviously measurable results.

Thankfully, we are selling advertising in a niche (the architectural, engineering and construction community) that does not need that much direct advertising response — if we provide value in other forms.  And we do.  Editorial publicity helps with credibility, and support/participation in community and association functions allows us to align our media with industry leaders’ objectives. Finally, we have gathered enough overall marketing knowledge that we can counsel our clients on best practices beyond advertising — and make practical recommendations and suggestions to avoid waste and achieve better results.

Your sales may be in industries demanding greater client responsiveness, of course, such as the retail or direct-to-consumer markets, where results are measured in inbound inquiries and the advertising purchasers are (or should be) sophisticated in assessing the cost and source of their sales leads.

Here, you really need to understand your clients’ demographics, your product strengths, and how you can deliver the leads the clients are seeking. You may need to draw on successes in other markets, or set up A/B tests, apply best-practices for your advertising design and campaign structure recommendations.

Provide practical advice.  Look at this “10 ways to waste advertising” website fact sheet from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (based on The Great AdVenture: How to Succeed in Newspaper Advertising Sales, from the Newspaper Association of America.

Jan 102013
 
October 2011 planning meeting

The October 2011 CNRG staff annual planning meeting

If you’ve landed at this page, you probably have seen job postings on Craigslist or the Service Canada Job Bank for a career opportunity selling advertising for the Canadian Design and Construction Report.  Here, you’ll learn a bit more about the opportunity, the qualifications, and how you can have an opportunity to succeed at this career.

About you . . .

First, the basics.  You don’t need sales experience, and you certainly don’t need advertising sales experience to qualify.  Our publications serve the architectural, engineering and construction industry.  Knowledge of this community will be helpful, but again isn’t a necessary qualification.

Second, if you qualify through a rather intensive (but hopefully entirely fair) evaluation process, we’ll start you off with a salary of $40,000.00 per year.  A company benefits program starts at three months. You should be able to earn $90,000 to $100,000 a year within two years if you reach your full potential.  You won’t make $500,000 a year, though (nice thought, though.)

You can work from your own home, anywhere in Canada, though proximity to a reasonable sized community will help you because it will allow you to meet face-to-face with clients in your own area.  You can guess that you need to be good on the phone and Internet — but as you establish yourself, we’ll work with you on a travel budget to allow you to meet other clients face-to-face.

The evaluation process

cadcr feb 012If you are interested in the opportunity, send your resume to us.  We’ll return a questionnaire and a brief sales personality survey test.  You need to complete the questionnaire and survey to qualify. (If you want to speed things up, you can download both the questionnaire and survey here.  See below.)

The questions aren’t that difficult.  In our organization, resumes and “interviews” are far less important in the evaluation process than real references and an actual working test.  “Real references” are from recent employers (and would be your direct supervisors).  If you have gaps or issues, don’t fret.  Just be truthful in the questionnaire so you aren’t haunted later with the inconsistencies.

The survey isn’t 100 per cent perfect and the resulting graph it generates for us to review would not mean anything to you, but we’ve discovered that most successful sales people have results within certain parameters.

We’ll evaluate the questionnaires and survey results before moving on to the most important evaluation stage.

The working test — where you prove your abilities (and are paid even if you don’t!)

The working test is part of our hiring system which sets us apart from most businesses.  In place of conventional interviews, we pay you to work with us for about a week.  The assignment won’t be particularly easy but will give you a taste of the actual work you will be doing, and an opportunity to prove you have the ability to ask the right questions and figure out the most effective strategies to succeed.  We expect you to sell something during the test.  If you are really successful, you will sell a lot.  It isn’t easy to do, but if things don’t work out, we’ll still pay you so you aren’t out of pocket.  (If you are currently employed, we’ll structure the test so you can either complete it during a vacation break or during an abbreviated testing process.)

With good results, we’ll then offer you interim employment while verifying your references and allowing you some time to review and sign our standard employment agreement.  (The agreement covers things like your salary and stuff like reasonable non-compete clauses.  It also clarifies that severance practices are in line with employment standards legislation, not common law, so we want you to have the opportunity to show the agreement to your own lawyer before you sign it.)

Then you’ll be working with us.  Within three months, you should qualify for our benefits program, and twice a year, you’ll receive fare, food and lodging for a visit to our twice-yearly staff meetings in Ottawa.

Questions?

Well, the first step is to send your resume to publisher@cnrgp.com If you would like to move things more rapidly, you can also download the questionnaire and sales survey here and send your resume directly to us WITH the completed questionnaire and survey.

Return these to chase@cnrgp.com (if you wish, copy to me at buckshon@cnrgp.com).  You can ask questions if you wish.  Initial communication is best by email, but we will be happy to speak with you on the phone if you wish.

Questionnaire 2012 

Sales Survey-right for you

(Note, follow the instructions carefully in completing the survey.)

Jan 102013
 

You should review and seriously consider the implications of this  posting by Frank Rumbauskas  in Sales Tips and Advice.

He quotes a study by the Keller Research Center at Baylor University  in Texas.

The study was based on a group of 50 experienced and qualified salespeople, who made a total of a whopping 6,264 phone-based cold calls over a two week period. And the results are far worse than even I would have expected. “Dismal” would be a compliment!

Here’s how it turned out:

– 72% of the calls were outright rejections. People saying “no way,” hang-ups, and so on.

– 28% of the calls were labeled as “productive.” These were people who didn’t hang up right away, showed some interest, gave a referral, asked to be called at a later time and so on. But what’s most interesting is that the majority of the two week study period was spent working on and following up with this 28% of the list. The time that went into it was extraordinary, and very eye-opening when you see the final results.

– That 28%, totaling 1,774 calls, resulted in 19 – yes, that’s NINETEEN – appointments. Out of a total of 6,264 cold calls made!

– The success rate of cold calls to appointments is 0.3% (based on the average closing rate of 20%, that would equate to just under 4 sales, from 6,264 cold calls).

Now that you’ve heard the horrific numbers experienced during the study, here is the conclusion drawn from it:

Experienced salespeople can expect to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling to get ONE qualified appointment!

If these numbers seem scary — and of course Rumbauskas is marketing a lead generation system to “substitute” for cold calls — I know of two examples where cold calls truly succeded, though as you read these examples, you’ll see why they are unlike the typical cold calls that drive sales reps and business “decision makers” nuts.

In the first, in the early years of my business, I decided to expand our Ottawa-based company to Toronto.  I joined the Toronto Construction Association and called to set up a meeting to see how we could co-ordinate our publicity with the association.

When I arrived, I discovered that the then-TCA chair happened to be the publisher of a competing newspaper (bad research on my part!). In a truly belligerent meeting, he said he wanted nothing to do with us, he wished the association had not accepted us as a member, and he would prefer we leave town. Then, in passing, he mentioned he wished McGraw-Hill would disappear as well.

I left the room, telling my editor-in-waiting (he never got to see the hostile association leader), that we should henceforth write a positive story about the TCA in each issue of our publication, co-operation or not. I then searched out the number for the Toronto McGraw Hill office, picked up the phone, and explained to the receptionist why I was calling (cold!)

She quickly put me through to the regional director, who decided that indeed we should meet, and when we did, that a strategic alliance would be in order. This co-operation continues today (McGraw-Hill is represented by Merx in Canada now) and the publication, the GTA Construction Report, continues to publish monthly after 16 years.

I learned the second cold call success example from sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer. He described how someone could not connect with a sales manager despite repeated calls. Gitomer decided to prove that reach the person in one call– and did. Of course, the Gitomer’s name is well-known in the sales industry — his call is like having the White House phone you. You take the call.

These examples, of course, prove that cold calling can be effective IF you have an exceptional reason, story, or an incredibly strong brand. Cold calling never works as a rote strategy. Make fewer calls and do more research. Have a great reason for calling, and some unique and powerful reference point or valid reason for real interest, or you’ll absolutely and totally be wasting your time.

Nov 052012
 

On purposeRecently, J.W. Najarian decided to follow my Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/cmiblog). Intrigued, I reviewed his  On Purpose Magazine, and discovered an incredible collection of podcast interviews with a diversity of successful individuals. The interview that captured my attention — and should yours — specifically relates to advertising sales, and the interview subject, the late Chet Holmes, offered two fundamental and extremely simple routes to advertising sales success.

Holmes, before dying from Leukemia, described how he built a tiny regional lawyers’ magazine owned by Warren Buffet’s organization into a 500-page powerhouse, with two simple concepts.

  1. Focus on the key potential clients. These are the ones, he says, who can “change your life” — the largest, most powerful, and most influential potential advertisers. Then, begin a strategy to reach out to these key potential clients strategically, with planned marketing pieces and phone communication, perhaps including small gifts and invitations. (You might want to look at Jon Goldman’s Lumpy Mail concept for some premium ideas.)
  2. Deliver real value and information to your potential clients, with knowledge and insights they can use. For example, he said, he learned from his own magazine which advertisers achieved the highest results and which approaches would work best.Then, he said. he called potential clients and offered these insights (usually with a number attached, like “four ways that you can absolutely achieve double your response and closing rate within 10 months” and added a line, “I’ll be sharing this information with your major competitors (named) and would like you to have the opportunity to hear this information, as well.”

Now these techniques require discipline, patience, and sincerity. When you are selling major national advertisers, the decision-makers probably won’t return your first, or second, or even third call or communication. So you need a strategic sequence, that you will follow. (Holmes said he set up a system where sales reps had 12 distinctive steps to follow, so each time they received a “no” they could move on to the next one.) Then you must deliver the goods. Obviously, the wrong thing to do is to promise insights and knowledge and real information to obtain an appointment, and then fall into a standard sales pitch. Your goal is to win trust and respect and, when you do this right, you’ll have your clients asking you which of your competitors they should include in their media purchasing plans.

Holmes used the interview to pitch a business-growth training/coaching program he operated with Tony Robbins. He used the educational free offer, celebrity endorsements, and targeted marketing to reach the right audience — with the message that if you applied the principals he taught, you would succeed in business. He emphasised the importance of accountability, and putting some skin into the game. In other words, paying for advice and following up is vital for success.

Nothing is forever. Holmes is dead now and (in his interview with Najarian) he said the magazine he had built into a 500-page success is now just a 22 page pamphlet. But some advice is timeless. While you might not buy into the Tony Robbins rah rah (see my observations about Brian Tracy here), you can still apply the concepts outlined in this hour-long audio to your sales practices. No need to purchase expensive training programs; and a reminder that good health is something we should never take for granted. You will learn a lot, however, if you give this audio the hour it needs.

Sep 122012
 

You might have landed here after seeing a Service Canada job bank posting for a new media writer.  Don’t worry.  You are in the “right” place, though this site doesn’t obviously reflect your interests (unless you are truly interested in advertising sales, in which case, please feel free to apply for that work!)

The reason for the link here is that the overall corporate link for the job bank requires us to specify a specific website address — and since most of our recruitment advertisements have been for the salaried sales work (and these postings are still running) the adsalessuccess.com is the best place to introduce these individuals to the career opportunity.

For the writing work, we’re looking for the “other stuff” — news and features relevant for our publications’ readers.  You can certainly review the Canadian Design and Construction Report (cadcr.com) or Northern Ontario Construction News as examples.  Some of our other Canadian publishers are on an ‘old’ website template, which we will update and adapt to the new model.

The main reason for the posting, however, relates to an ambitious initiative to expand our coverage in the U.S., through a network of new regional construction industry sites.  We already have a presence in North Carolina (see www.ncconstructionnews.com) and soon will be expanding service to South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and the metropolitan Washington D.C. area.

If you are interested in this work, please feel free to apply through the email address on the job bank.  We’ll send a questionnaire and invite you, if you qualify to work with us on a trial (paid) assignment.

The opportunity is real — if it has nothing (directly) to do with advertising sales success.

Jul 262012
 

You can lead a local home-based  business in your area, providing a crucial and effective independent community voice for the architectural, engineering and construction community.

No cash investment is required.  You can start part-time and then, when you are ready to take the jump, turn this into a full-time opportunity generating an income of between $40,000 and $100,000 a year.

As a local publisher, you would oversee your regional construction publication and website.

We’ll cover all approved business-related out-of-pocket costs for qualified publishers.  Compensation will be commission-based and the working relationship will be as an indepedent contractor, meaning you would work from your own home without supervision.

If you wish, complete the sales survey and questionnaire for the Canadian salaried opportunity.  This will help us to know if you are likely to succeed at the opportunity.

Questionnaire 2012 

Sales Survey-right for you

(Note, follow the instructions carefully in completing the survey.)

For more information, email Mark Buckshon at buckshon@cnrgp.com

Jul 252012
 

cheerful peopleIn selecting and working with advertising sales representatives, we always need to look at and beyond first impressions.  “First impressions” of course are important — many decisions are made within seconds of meeting someone new, and these can provide real clues about the future.  Yet first impressions can be staged and the perfection you see (or want to see) often does not exist under the surface.  As well, of course, some people rightfully seek to cover their tracks to hide problems and issues they would rather not to be exposed.

Our recruiting and hiring systems are quite effective in handling first impressions.  We don’t discount them. We simply put them in context.

The first rule

Resumes and interviews are supporting, not vital, for hiring decisions.

Every person needs a resume, and we’ll have some form of conversation with anyone who passes the initial scruitiny/screening.  But we will NEVER hire someone just because they have a great resume and “interview well”.  Our systems are designed to prevent these common hiring tools from being the key elements in making our decisions.

Notably, we’ll ask every candidate to reframe their resume to reflect a true chronological history, from most recent to earliest employment.  Dressing up the resume to highlight achievements or hide employment gaps won’t help you at all in being selected at our organization — we need to see the warts, and all.

The second rule

All candidates must answer our initial employment questionnaire to receive any further consideration.

The goal here is to ensure that the candidates can respond to questions that don’t necessarily “fit” their nicely packaged resumes.  We are also able to ask some point-blank questions such as whether  references from immediate previous supervisors for all previous employers can be verified (and if not, why).    We generally ask some skills-evaluating questions, as well.

Note the resume and questionnaire go hand-in-hand.  We cross check each to discover inconsistencies and gaps.

The third rule

No one is hired without a short-term (paid) working test

We realize some great people are employed elsewhere, but everyone who is serious (and who we are serious about) can find a day or two, upwards of a week, to work for pay temporarily to show they will work out well in our organization.  Generally speaking, if you wish to be hired as a sales representative here, you’ll need to sell something during the test.

The working test is a much better evaluation approach than multiple interviews, since effectively, multiple interviews are conducted through the evaluation process.

Reference checking is vital — but what we are seeking are truthful insights

We’ve hired some really good people who could not provide consistent, recent, references, perhaps because they are returning to the work force after a long absence or because their career is truly legitimately “spotty”.  The point is we’ll look beyond the obvious and keep an open mind — especially since the reference checking only occurs after the working evaluation, where we’ve been able to assess actual performance and compatibility.

Nevertheless, we’ll check carefully to avoid hiring anyone who shows a lack of integrity and truthfulness and we’ll be especially cautious to know that employment gaps or potentially negative references indicate smoking gun problems.

The final security measure:  The employment contract

We’ll ask every employee (after obtaining independent legal advice) to sign an employment contract, which clearly states obligations and establishes the rules for severance/termination (setting these at statutory, rather than common-law levels).

Feb 132012
 

brainThis blog reminds me of the early days of the Construction Marketing Ideas blog.  Readership is low — extremely low — and writing here is like talking to myself.  (I sometimes wonder if I hear my own echo as I write these words.)

That’s okay.  In the early goings, there isn’t much need for a large audience.  I could speed up the development here by setting up community activities, interviewing people and the like, but that will happen later.

In the meantime, if you happen to visit these pages and would like to share your advertising sales experience, please feel free to write me at buckshon@cnrgp.com or file your comment.