Q:I was curious if anyone here has had any experience in inviting college students to work as interns for me. My obstacle isn't money, in fact interns or not they will get full pay plus commission. I, on the other hand, fear the 'experience' that sales people may bring into the company. I've seen other companies like us and have tried my best to avoid fitting into the stereotypes. I'd like to know if anyone here has any suggestions, experiences, or just comments that may help me decide.
A:By and large, you really should NOT use interns for anything of real importance. Interns are unreliable, inexperienced, and temporary. You'll be spending a lot of time training them and then they leave. What that means is you're constantly training one intern after another. As for how to get value out of an intern, you can look at them in one of three ways. 1) As grunts. They can do grunt work for your staff that is boring. The intern won't be bored since they've never done it before. Or at the very least, they'll get bored more slowly and understand why they're given such work. They understand because they know they're not to screw things up. Additionally, they're there to learn the business and that includes all aspects of it ... which includes the boring stuff. 2) As explorers. If they seem fairly intelligent, you can use them to look into new areas of business. They usually have a lot of energy and desire to prove themselves. Researching a new area for you will be exciting to them. 3) As possible future full-time hires. For many interns, they hope they get a job offer from you when they graduate. They know many employers look at interns as possible future hires. That internships are basically pre-probationary periods with absolutely no obligations of commitment by the employer. So for your situation, I'd recommend you hire full-time sales help. However, I'm wondering why you're resistant to the idea. What is this "experience" you refer to? What bad stereotypes are you talking about? "Small marketing company" and you don't know how to generate business? Not to be too offensive here, but isn't this an oxymoron? - Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Now for some help: Have you considered selling your product/service through manufacturer's reps? This is a tried and proven method for getting people to buy your stuff. You pay no wages, no insurance, no State taxes, no SS, nothing.... but when you get a sale you pay a commission once you get the money. It's one of the slickest inventions of American capitalism. For example: Say you are selling the design and printing of pamphlets. Find yourself a screen printing company that is not selling pamphlets and ask them if you could contact their sales reps with your product. Or go into your local yellow pages and under marketing services look for independent reps, give them a call, make a deal. Do this right and you can have market coverage worldwide without spending a nickel on wages or benefits. Since a real manufacturer's rep likes to work on commission, you will have the best selling talent on your team. To be honest, I don't have enough information to give you an answer that you should make a decision on. And it would be very hard to ask the questions here that need to be asked to give you such an answer. The reason for the difficulty is the time it would require. The answer you give to one question will likely determine what my next question should be. Having given this disclaimer, I suggest you do one of two things: 1) Be more specific in your Help Wanted ads for the salesperson you're seeking. This will get you a lower response rate, but might attract the ones you seek. Also, advertise in more publications and in other cities to get more responses. Or... 2) Hire a marketing professional to help you on this score. Someone like George Demmer in this newsgroup. He specializes in small businesses and has a good head on his shoulders. Tell the pro your problem and that you want them to help you hire good salespeople. Not only help you hire them but establish a system for doing so ... which you can then follow later without their hands-on help. You want to know what to ask for in the 'Help Wanted' ad: What to look for when you greet the applicants, what interview questions to ask, What the answers they give mean, how to properly train them, How to properly structure an incentive program to spur them on, Etc. I'm not sure how much someone like George would charge you, but it will be well worth the money invested.