The sales dilemma for start-up entrepreneursWednesday, April 07, 2021
According to the Company's Office of Jamaica (COJ), in 2020, entrepreneurs and investors registered 12,809 business names and 3,935 companies.
Did you have any idea the number was that huge?
Typically, founders of start-ups put it all on the line — everything — their house, savings, loans from friends and family and perhaps bank loans, angel investments and more.
As brilliant as they are, in most cases, the sales element is not one of their strengths and it's not until the business has a logo and a website when they realise that success won't come until somebody sells something. Then the hard reality kicks in, now what?
Every business owner takes on three distinct personalities in how they think about, and work within their business.
THE ENTREPRENEUR, THE MANAGER AND THE TECHNICIAN
Entrepreneurial work is strategic in nature. It involves dreaming, focusing on the future, and developing a vision of where the business can go. This vision is specific in terms of what the company will do to serve the wants and needs of the owner.
Managerial work is both strategic and tactical, with a focus on the present and on achieving results through others. The manager is the pragmatist, planner and organiser who turns the vision into action.
Technical work is the hands-on work of the business — doing the production and delivery of the product or service. The technician lives in the present and relies on the guiding structure of the company's systems to get the work done.
The irony about these three distinct business personalities is that they all lack distinctive sales focus so it does not take long for the founder to realise that they cannot be the salesperson, especially when their experience is financial, marketing, operational, or technical. However, when it comes to making their first sales hires, entrepreneurs and start-up founders tend to be confused by their options and often make the wrong decisions.
“We want to hire our first salesperson” means different things to different people. Entrepreneurs are often under the impression that their first sales hire will go out and sell their tail off, then become the sales manager, make a few more sales hires, and become the sales VP. Then that individual would be expected to build structure, systems and processes, scale and grow enough revenue to turn the business around quickly.
Nice work if you can get it, but they could not be more wrong.
The person who wants to be the first sales manager is not the person who will go out and hunt for 18 months. And neither of them — not the hunter and not the sales manager — is the person to lead the strategic growth of the company while building systems and processes.
Nine of 10 entrepreneurs fail to understand that we are talking about three different people, not one person that will quickly transition through three completely different roles!
If the entrepreneurs get it, and adjust their thinking to embrace the three people concept, they must make a decision about the next challenge. Since they do not have the finances or the revenue to hire all three of those people, they need to choose one. Which one?
Invariably, they miss the boat and vote to hire the VP of sales. While that hire makes them feel good — the sales VP joins the tiny executive team — that simply cannot be the first sales hire. And the sales manager is looking for someone to give orders to so that cannot be the first hire either. The sales VP & manager will be in the office writing plans and creating strategy, but there will not be anyone to execute the plan and the company will burn through too much money before they figure out that they may not survive. Somebody must sell something, and it will not be those two people.
Ultimately, the first sales hire needs to be a hunter — the person who will be on the ground, making calls, knocking on doors and doing everything possible to get the sale. Though, they must hire a hunter who will succeed, otherwise they are right back here at the starting line again in 90 days. How can they assure sales hiring success? You may want to look at predictive sales candidate assessment offered by sales recruiting experts that will take the worry out of sales selection by identifying candidates who will succeed in the role. And they are guaranteed!
Of course, there are post-hire challenges too, like who is going to onboard them, who is going to manage and coach them, and how long will it take them to figure out how to sell your products and services? But that is for another day.
Rejoice in knowing that you just hired your first salesperson!
Duane Lue-Fung is an award-winning entrepreneur and is the Founder & Chairman of the Caribbean's #1 Sales Development Company, Think Grow Lead. For more insights on sales & customer experience training, sales recruiting, sales consultancy, and sales outsourcing please visit TGL's website. www.tgltrainers.com/ www.tglsalesschool.com or email me your comments at email@example.com
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