We all know one of the best ways to “strike gold” in dropshipping is by finding winning products.
Just ONE winning product can make up 70-80% of your monthly revenue, and take you to high 6 figure (even 7 figure) months.
But as we all know, winning products don’t last.
They die down anywhere between 3-6 months of intensive scaling (and intense competition).
And once a winning product dies down…
You start to see your ROAS drop…
Your revenue dipping down from a few thousand per day, to only slightly breaking 1k per day.
And you dip into unprofitability.
That’s why dropshippers (even those doing 7-8 figures) are always on the hunt for the next winning product.
Because they don’t want their entire business to rely on just one product.
But the problem is, finding high quality products (products that have high potential of becoming winners) is extremely inconsistent.
One month you’re able to find 3-4, while other months you struggle to even find 1.
After working with many 6-8 figure dropshippers in my operations agency, and having the luxury to see and optimize their product research process, we have identified 3 deadly mistakes that dropshippers make that prevents them from finding high quality products consistently.
So what are the 2 deadly mistakes?
The 2 Deadly Mistakes are:
First Mistake: Being involved in product research yourself
I know what you’re thinking…
“Product research is the most important part of my business, I can’t delegate that out to a VA.”
I get what you mean.
A couple of our 7 figure clients were also doing their product research themselves before working with us.
But after we optimized their process and created proper delegation systems for them, they realized how much quicker they were able to scale.
(One of our clients even tested over 80 products a month after this)
And not to mention how much more free time they have to focus on strategizing and planner for their business.
They now spend their time working on revenue generating tasks like:
Finding new markets…
Starting a new store…
Launching new brands…
Attending masterminds to learn or network…
Here’s what we did:
We first laid out their entire product research process.
Yours may look something like this:
1. Go to AdSpy
2. Filter it by X number or shares, X date range, with X key word
3. Select Ads that matches those criterias
4. Search for the product on Aliexpress
5. Cross reference and make sure product matches your winning product criteria
6. Check if anyone in your team searched for this product before.
7. If no, add into product research google/excel sheet if criterias are met
Imagine repeating this for every product and doing this for multiple times a day.
Next, see how you can eliminate or optimize any steps.
For example with step 5.
Even though cross-checking if the product matches your winning product criteria won’t take too much of your time…
Imagine doing it over 10-15 times every single day.
Instead, we created a google form with the 5 criterias and automated it to import the data to the product research google sheet.
The product researcher will just have to fill up the google form and continue researching for products.
If the product matches 4 of the 5 criterias, it’ll be automatically color coded as green.
If the product matches 3 of the 5 criterias, it’ll be automatically color coded as yellow.
If the product matches 2 or less of the 5 criterias, then it’ll be automatically color coded as red.
By doing this, it shortens our clients time of cross-referencing by over 80%.
Second Mistake: Hiring low quality VAs
Another mistake that most dropshippers make that prevents them from finding high quality products consistently is that they hire low quality VAs.
Most think that all you need to do is to post a job on fiverr, onlinejobsPH or any other remote hiring website.
But as we all know, these websites contain a ton of low quality VAs as well.
These VAs may seem pretty impressive in the interview stage.
But after a couple of months in your company, their performance starts to dip and they start to give lots of excuses for not hitting their KPI.
As finding high quality remote team members (A+ players) for our clients is part of our service, we have created a hiring system that can constantly find A+ players to join your team.
These A+ players are:
Independent, resourceful and solution-focused in solving problems without waiting for your instructions every time.
They have a great sense of responsibility and ownership not only in their tasks but the end outcome of the company
They take pride in their work and consistently overdeliver in their KPIs
They’re always finding ways to improve on existing processes and SOPs instead of just taking instructions.
They are capable of getting the work done efficiently (highly productive), managing themselves autonomously (highly professional), and well working in the system and team (highly responsible)
They focus on outcome and results and automatically do everything that needs to be done to get results instead of just doing the bare minimum (whatever they can get away with)
They love the company, the work that they do and always strive to do their best so that the company can grow quickly.
What’s this hiring system?
We call it, the S.A.R.V. Hiring framework.
SARV Stands for: Seriousness, Ability, Resourcefulness and Values
One of the biggest challenges most business owners have when hiring is they don’t know how serious or committed the candidates are.
It’s easy to do up a good resume and perform well during the interview. But acing the hiring process doesn’t always translate to how well they do their job.
At our agency, we help our clients with not only the hiring, but also the onboarding and management of new hires.
Because of that, we have a lot of opportunities to not only test and refine the hiring process, but also see what is the outcome of it after they get hired.
After testing many things, we’ve found that there are several ways to filter out how serious they are for the job.
One of the ways is to include “Hidden Tests” in your job posts.
The purpose of these hidden tests is to see if the candidates are bothered to read the entire job post carefully.
A sign of how serious they are for the job is how meticulous they are to complete these hidden tests.
In the job post, we will include a simple question like “Please submit in your response to this math equation into the Subject Head: 2+4=?”
If the candidate submits their response without answering “6” in the subject head, they are automatically disqualified.
Why? Simply because they didn’t bother to read the entire job posting.
Chances are, they are just applying for every possible job opening out there and seeing who will accept them.
(Like a guy swiping right to every tinder profile without bother checking out the profile)
You don’t want to be “just another company” they swipe right.
You want candidates who have read your job posting and are doing everything they can to score an interview with you (hey, I’m romantic that way)
These simple Hidden Tests will easily allow you to filter out the serious ones.
For those that pass these simple Hidden Tests, we then follow up with another test for seriousness.
This time round, we give the candidates an assignment/task that would take a maximum of 2 hours to complete, but, we let them know that they have 4 hours to do so.
If the candidate submits their work in LESS than 4 hours, we know that they really want the job.
They are doing everything they can to get the job. So they pass the test.
If they submit their work AFTER 4 hours, they are automatically disqualified.
It means either:
– They can’t follow instructions
– They won’t be good at the job at their current skill/understanding
– They may have slow computers/internet which will also be a problem eventually
– They are just not serious about applying
Now what about those who completed the task on the fourth hour right on time?
Submitting the task at the fourth hour will also disqualify them.
While they did fulfil the requirement, it likely means that they are those that will do the bare minimum to get by.
What we want are candidates who will go above and beyond what the tasks require of them. And in this case, it means getting the job done asap.
Going above and beyond is what separates the A+ players from the B and C players.
Here are some examples of what these tasks look like:
If we’re hiring for product researchers – they are tasked to find 10 products that fit a certain criteria.
For graphic designers – they are tasked to create 5 Facebook thumbnails in 4 hours.
For video editors – they are tasked to edit 5x 30 seconds video in 4 hours (clips will be provided)
And they must complete and submit their task before 4 hours.
Remember: The purpose of this test is to identify the people who are willing to go the extra mile.
We do not want hires that just simply drag their work just to fulfill the given timeline.
We want A+ players who see the importance in completing their work quickly whenever possible.
Combining these 2 tests together will eliminate easily over 80% of the not-so-good candidates, giving you a much higher chance of finding the A+ players.
This is a no-brainer. You need someone capable enough to help you if you are hiring.
But in dropshipping, the majority of us started the business alone, and we were doing everything by ourselves, from product research, to copywriting, all the way to media buying.
Because of this, it’s common to think that no one else can be better than you in any role.
And it’s hard to find someone better than you.
This is what we call, the Superhero Syndrome
(I talked about the Superhero Syndrome in my previous posts. You can check it out. Link in the comments)
Even though it may be true that no one else can be better than you at any of the roles, it’s your job as the business owner to delegate roles to the best people, so that you can focus on what’s important… growing the business.
In our agency, in order to find A+ players for our clients, we conduct a simple test to see the capability of the candidate.
If they are able to complete the task at 70% of your expectation, they move on to the next round.
Here’s what we do:
Earlier on, I mentioned that we give the candidates a task to complete in 4 hours.
Product researchers – they are tasked to find 10 products that fit a certain criteria.
Graphic designers – they are tasked to create 5 Facebook thumbnails in 4 hours.
Video editors – they are tasked to edit 5x 30 seconds video in 4 hours (clips will be provided)
If they are able to complete the task at 70% of your expectation, for example, if the product researcher is able to find 10 products that match 70% of the criteria, then they’ve passed the test.
From my experience after years of hiring and going through thousands of applicants, I’ve discovered that 70% of your own ability is the sweet spot, because it’s nearly impossible and may take months to find someone higher than that.
70% may sound low at first, but with the right training, SOPs and processes, they can eventually be trained into a 100% A+ player.
Again, this is the reason why at our agency, we work with our clients to create highly effective SOPs and training programs for onboarding and training new members before we start the hiring process.
You want your team members to be problem-solvers, NOT problem-presenters.
They must have the capability to solve issues that arise within your business, especially in the fast-paced and hyper competitive dropshipping world.
Say, your best performing Ad gets disapproved by Facebook and your ROAS is dropping
A Problem-Presenter will let you know that the ad got disapproved and just simply wait for you to tell them what to do.
Whereas your Problem-Solvers will take the initiative to identify the reason behind the disapproval and come out with a list of suggestions to help solve this issue as soon as possible.
(Was it because of the text? Was it because of the landing page copy? Was it because in the Ad, was there a clip of a bodypart?)
If your team members have to come to you to solve every problem that arises, you will be fighting fires every single day… not the best use of your time.
As a business owner, your responsibility is to grow the business. Not fight fires.
This is why it’s so important to have team members that are independent, resourceful and great problem-solvers…
Which will free up your time and mental space to focus on the bigger tasks and grow your business.
For one of our clients, we managed to help him free up 90% of his time while increasing his revenue and profits at the same time…
Time that was previously spent firefighting and solving problems.
Simply by hiring problem-solvers!
(Imagine how your life, business and emotional state will look like if you can free up 90% of your time while increasing revenue and profits at the same time…)
So, how do we find these “problem-solvers” A+ players?
We can do that by conducting a scenario based test.
Here’s what we do:
First, give the applicants a scenario-based question, or ask them an open-ended question with no right or wrong answers (eg. What is more important to you, Wealth or Knowledge?)…
Next, get them to FAX their handwritten answers to you.
Yes, FAX their handwritten answers to you.
This is one of the most important steps that you cannot miss.
Here’s why this step is so important:
Most of them would not have fax machines.
So in order to fax the answer to you, they have to get creative and be resourceful enough to find solutions.
E.g. going to the city and finding a shop that can allow them to fax you the answer.
This is not the kind of solution that they can easily look up on google, but yet if they really think about it, they can most likely find a solution
(If you do not have a fax machine to receive the answers or want to make it slightly easier for them, scanning their answers and emailing to you is fine as well.)
With this test, you would have known a few more things about your remaining candidates:
1. Their handwriting (you can tell a lot about someone just by the way they write)
2. Their answers to your question – this shows how they would deal with certain problems (if you gave them a scenario-based question), or whether the answer they gave you is acceptable within the company’s beliefs/values (which is the last stage in this process)
3. How did they overcome the actual real-life problem you impose on them.
When they pass this test with flying colors, then it’s a great sign that they would make a great hire.
This is the final stage of the S.A.R.V framework and the most important of all 4 stages.
You can always give more training to your team members that are not capable enough, but all of these would be useless if they uphold a different value system from you and your company.
They leave you eventually if the values your team members uphold differs from you.
Many of the top tier ecom business owners that I’ve talked to told me the same thing:
“I don’t know why, but I don’t feel good having this team member I hired in my company, even though he’s really capable and experienced. It feels like they could destroy my business one day.”
And oftentimes, they’re right – unethical business practices, politics formed within the company, intentional sabotage of the business.
All of them happened before, and from my experience, the amount of recovery work that is done after is a lot tougher as compared to just hiring the right person from the start.
“But how do one test for values? Wouldn’t most people fake it, especially during an interview?”
That is, if you do it like normal companies are usually doing, asking standard interview questions that these have been preparing for the past few weeks before applying for your job.
This is why we never do formal interviews at this stage.
What we do instead is to have a casual interview for us to know that person better, like a casual Zoom call, and to talk to them as though they’re your friend.
Also, while talking, observe their behaviour during the entire time.
For example, how would they react if someone were to barge into their room while they were having the interview? (Happens very often)
Or perhaps reduce your microphone volume and see how they would react if they can’t hear you clearly.
These are all small details that show you more about themselves.
More importantly, ask them questions that would catch them off-guard.
Find out more about them before this interview, be it with their social media profiles, or even a simple Google search might help you find more info on them. (You also have to be serious about them if you’re testing their seriousness for your company!)
With whatever information you can find of them, see if you can probe them deeper and get them to share more of their thoughts.
Some questions that will help you understand what values they are more inclined to uphold.
Example questions include:
1. Is there anyone you met in your life that you really respect and admire him/her? What do you admire that person for?
2. Are there any instances you fell out with a friend or ex-colleague before? Could you share with me what happened?
The first question is to know if there’s anyone the candidate is aiming to become like.
The answers are usually characteristics or values that the candidate already has in them or is striving towards growing it within them.
The second question actually tells you more about whether the candidate reflects on the situation whenever issues appear, especially when other parties are involved.
If the candidate lays blame on the other party without reflecting on themselves, then be wary.
This is they are going to deal with problems when it happens in your company.
Ultimately, the answers you get from them must be something you or your company would accept.
Because no matter how good you think the values they uphold are, as long as you or your company is not aligned with those values, then the candidate will not be suitable for the job.
And that is how we hire the right people for our clients and disqualify those that are not suitable for their companies.