The Big Mistake Owners Make When Hiring Sales People
Everyone wants a top-notch sales person on their team, someone who can bring in the business and generate revenue. But is that really what your organization needs? Many owners don’t ask that question, which can be a huge mistake when hiring sales people.
For the past year, the LaManna Alliance has worked with recruiting specialist Michael Brenk to help printing and converting owners fill sales positions. Michael notes that a common issue owners have in the process is that they assume “sales is sales.”
“There is a big difference between someone who can manage an account and someone who can develop new business,” he said.
A sales person adept at developing new business can reach out to new accounts and develop new relationships. They crave the hunt, and aren’t averse to cold-calling and trying to get their foot in the door.
Conversely, the account manager is good at expanding a company’s business with an existing client, but not developing new business. The distinction in this case is a good account manager usually lacks the skills or the desire to cold-call into parts unknown.
Companies that have a problem distinguishing between these two types of sales people endure lengthy searches for the right candidate, and/or tend to hire the wrong individual. “Owners try and create one position for these two types of sales people,” Brenk said. “That’s a big mistake.”
The Hunter and The Farmer
In the ideal organization, you’ll have two people on your team with the same skills, because in many ways, they’re complementary.
The business development professional, who Michael calls “the hunter,” is constantly on the prowl for new business. They are extremely skilled at mining a database, working a trade show, and relentlessly working on leads. However, their attention to detail falters once they’ve captured the big game.
This is can be a huge drawback in a field like wide-format digital printing, where the devil is in the details. Here an account manager, or the “farmer” can take over and cultivate the existing account. With his/her expertise, the account manager can establish trust, and eventually win even more business for the company.
Can you see the danger of trying to blend these two roles into one sales position?
For example, imagine you have several big accounts, and you want someone to grow this existing business even more. If you hire a business development person, you actually run the risk of losing the account, as the day-to-day details won’t be a high priority.
Eventually, he’ll botch assignments, and quality will suffer. The client will get upset and leave, and you’ll likely also lose the salesperson because he’d rather hunt the big game than manage clients.
Photo by Victor1558
Which Type of Sales Person Do You Need?
Too often, owners get the hiring process for a sales person backwards. They assume all the candidates are the same, and start poring over resumes. They wine and dine the very best salesperson out there; the big dog with the big numbers. And that’s a big mistake.
Instead, when Michael Brenk assesses the needs of his client, he focuses on what the organization needs from the position. “I ask the owner how he would determine what the person must do to be successful,” he said. “That tends to stump companies.”
To ensure you hire correctly, follow Michael’s suggestion and start at the end of the process. What is the ideal outcome for your sales candidate? Is it new business, or managing clients? Define your goals, and then remember you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Your new sales person may actually need to be two people: one for new biz, and one to manage accounts. You’re going to pay a little more upfront, but in the long run, you’ll come out way, way ahead.
Cover photo by The Happy Cynic
Rock LaManna is the President and CEO of the LaManna Alliance. The LaManna Alliance helps printing owners and CEOs use their company financials to prioritize and choose the proper strategic transition – including mergers, acquisitions, organic growth, and exit / succession plans.