Where did it go so wrong for this MD?Neil Connaughton
Well, in the time-honored tradition of disagreements it’s probably a bit of both. We’ve heard this story many times before sadly. And that’s why our business came into being in the first place – to provide a better, less risky alternative to hiring.
But the bigger question surely is why do companies automatically look to hire salespeople in the first place? We’ve discovered the decision to hire often comes often as a result of a “trigger” – a significant event that makes a company start thinking about bringing someone into the business to develop sales.
Triggers can often include:
- To counter an over-reliance on word of mouth and personal connections
- The business has recently received an injection of funding
- Shareholders desire to build up the business prior to exiting
- To replace someone who’s left, or is about to leave the business
Step-up businesses, as we call them, growing quickly often to want to hire and can mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking this a quick way to acquire new clients.
The bad news is if you are selling a service quick wins rarely exist. Does this sound like you? ” We sell to almost everyone we get in front of” Likely they came to you – the enquirer was probably a warm referral in the first who a) were “in the market” to buy and b) were unlikely to talk to other suppliers because you were recommended.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that a new salesperson will convert cold prospects into deals at the rate of 1:2, or 1:3. They won’t. Keep in mind the customer buying process. Customers buy when they want to buy. Not when you want them to buy.
So, expect cold prospects take longer to “warm up”. The sales cycle will take much longer – think 6-12 months, and maybe 3 or 4 meetings plus the inevitable follow up’s.
It takes time to nurture and onboard clients especially if you’re working a new data set and you shouldn’t be looking for a salesperson to be covering their costs any time soon. We think a better measure of success is to target a salesperson on meetings, webinars, and proposals – sales activity is the key to driving positive outcomes.
To be clear we’re talking about talking to and meeting with real live prospects.
Our general advice:
- Don’t hire until you have enough customers to up-sell or cross-sell to
- A salesperson should be generating 3x overhead – not just basic salary
- Have you the time to properly onboard a new hire – if not don’t recruit
- Make sure you set clear expectations and set clear KPI’s
- Meet for a face-to-face review every week for the first 2 months
- Understand what motivates candidates – if it’s just money beware!
- Consider alternatives to hiring
- Consider candidates from other industries
Wishing you every success!
Pitch Perfect Towers