I understand why you find the idea appealing. You want to grow, and to do that, you need to sell. If only you could bring on a crack sales professional who would go out, book the meetings, impress the prospects and close the deals for you.
You’d gladly pay commissions, and maybe even a salary, for the growth it would bring you. And best of all, you wouldn’t have to do it yourself!
This is why, as an entrepreneur fervently seeking growth, you want so badly to hire a salesperson. I get it.
I implore you.
This is advice I have given to so many entrepreneurs, and most don’t listen to me. I hope for your sake you’ll be one of the rare ones who does. This is one of the most critical – and most common – mistakes entrepreneurs make. By hiring a salesperson, they think(took out comma) they’re going to solve all kinds of problems.
In all likelihood, you will not only not solve problems, you will introduce a whole bunch of new ones into your organization.
First of all, most entrepreneurial organizations don’t have an established sales process in place. They think that’s what they’re hiring the salesperson to do, and the salesperson probably claims to be able to implement such a process. But there’s a difference between doing the selling and designing the sales process, and most effective salespeople can’t create the process.
So a full-time salesperson comes into a fledgling organization that has no established sales process, and probably lacks many of the tools a salesperson would need to be successful. The salesperson also lacks institutional knowledge of the company, which means the entrepreneurial CEO is now spending even more time on sales than before – teaching and training the new sales whiz.
Finally, there’s a disturbing fact most CEOs don’t know about salespeople. While some will hit the ground running, most require a year to really get up to speed and start delivering any sort of return on investment. So the entrepreneur who was hoping the salesperson would improve margins, ends up making the margins worse, because you’re paying them and for months on end they don’t sell anything.
You are transferring your wealth to another person the moment you hire that salesperson. Up until now, you were bringing tremendous value to your company because you could not only run it, but you could sell it at no additional cost. Now you’re taking on an additional cost, and if the salesperson is not successful, you will never get back the wealth you gave away.
It’s also been my experience that good salespeople are change agents. They’re always looking for ways to change every organization they touch. Now you might think, good! That’s what your customers are looking for! But guess which organization will be the first they want to change: Yours. And if they come in and find your company isn’t mature enough to support what they envision themselves doing, they’re going to sow dissension.
There’s a better way to do this. And by the way, I’m not against ever hiring a salesperson. But the time to do it is not when the founder/entrepreneur/CEO is getting tired of doing it and is getting antsy for the growth to pick up. The time to do it is when you’ve matured as an organization to the point where a salesperson can step into a mature, prosperous environment and help take it to the next level.
Taking the right path to get there is the key.
It starts with hiring, not a salesperson, but a sales navigator. Now what does the sales navigator do? Simply, the sales navigator shares with you the burden of doing the sales – because yes, Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur, you’re still going to do the sales. But there’s a lot about the sales process that the sales navigator could help you with, which would make it less time-consuming and more efficient.
Not only that, but the sales navigator can work with you to create that formalized sales process you don’t have now. The sales navigator can help you work through mistakes you make in the process, before you’re paying a high-level salesperson to be frustrated by those same mistakes.
Right now, with you doing the sales, the whole process is likely in your head. You may know it, but there’s no way you could teach it to another person because it’s intuitive to you. Working with the sales navigator will force you to let the process become more regimented in the best of ways.
This is still an investment, but it’s a much smaller one – maybe 20-to-25 percent of what you would have invested in a salesperson. And because the navigator will immediately strengthen your existing sales efforts, rather than start at ground zero and have to ramp up, you’re likely to see results much sooner.
You’ll also learn a great deal about how the sales process really works. A lot of that comes from when the sales navigator asks, “What do I do next?” When you’re not sure of the answer, the two of you will have to figure it out together. That’s the best kind of learning.
And when you and your sales navigator have accomplished so much that you’re twice as busy as when you first considered hiring a salesperson, that’s when it’s time to take another look at it. Your processes are mapped out, your value proposition is clear and easy for you to teach, and you’re not desperate for new revenue. Rather, you’re prepared to invest some of your healthy revenue stream in the strengthening of the solid sales process you’ve already created.
That’s how you do it. I said at the start that entrepreneurs don’t usually listen to me when I give this advice. But you’re smart, and you’re going to be the exception.