The Temporary Salesperson

"Be the 17th caller and win a day off, courtesy of Kelly Services and Magic 98." I heard this promotional announcement on a local radio station. Instead of offering a cash prize, the station was offering its listeners some much-needed free time.

I didn't call. My first thought was that you'd have to have a pretty simple job with little responsibility to be able to be replaced by a temp. Temps type, file and send out packages. Right?

Not exactly.

It turns out there are many different kinds of temporary jobs. "Rent a Manager" is the title of an article in Lufthansa's in-flight magazine. One such interim manager is Albert Franke, who, according to the article, is "a jack-of-all-trades by profession. He may be in charge of technical development at a gaming-machine factory one year, or reorganising production runs at a foundry the next. In the past 10 years, Franke must have taken on at least a dozen such jobs."

Temps are no longer confined to the mailroom; they serve in almost every capacity -- including sales -- in an organisation.

Many companies already outsource their non-core competencies. Manufacturing rep firms flourish by providing an outside sales force.

A sales temp filling in for a salesperson on maternity leave would be of great benefit to many companies. Taking over a territory while a salesperson recovers from an accident would also be beneficial. It is helpful to have worked in sales before taking on a temporary sales assignment. To be of real value to a company, you would have to move sales forward in your temporary territory, or at least keep them from slipping backwards. Temporary sales can be an ideal job for a salesperson who wants to see his family more than chase a six-figure income.

Like interim managers, temporary salespeople need to be mobile and independent, experienced and skilled. In other words, your value as a temp is that you don't require training and development. You step in and do the job.

Here are three ideas to help you land your temporary sales job:

  • Meet with the three or four biggest placement services in your area to see if they place temporary salespeople.

  • Go back one or two old employers and see if they would hire you back in a temporary capacity.

  • Use your skills to sell employers on the need to keep sales moving forward and your ability to do that.

Then, all you have to do is produce sales and earn your big commissions. It seems like an easy job. However, the downside of a temporary sales job is the temporary aspect. Since customers want relationships with salespeople over a long time, you will probably not gain the big bucks by selling to any one customer or for any one company for a few months. It takes three to five years to establish yourself in an industry. That said, you should be able to find a need and fill it as a temporary salesperson.

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