“I built this company, our offer is specific and only I can sell us best”
Probably all of this is true. The owner knows his company best and would not have developed without him. However, basing a company’s pillar of sales and its future and prosperity on one person is at least risky from a business point of view. Unfortunately, random events take place, and sometimes it is worth going on a longer vacation.
What is equally important, the owner focusing excessively on sales does not work “on the company” but “in the company” and he will always be needed for it to run.
The achievable scale of operations is also an obvious limitation. The number of hours a day is constant, and commercial activities simply take time. The owner’s attention is also forced on sales aspects, going too deep into this area (you know – “selling is important”) and thus paying less attention to other key areas of the company.
If they decided to hire people responsible for sales and each of them would only implement 60% (because it is known that they will not be “as good as the boss”) of what the owner – and there would be two of them – together they would add more to the company’s turnover than he did alone.
It is also worth mentioning the mythical “specificity of the company”. This is one of the first things you hear from entrepreneurs. This is a topic for a separate entry. Here we only indicate that unless your company is involved in the extraction of minerals from asteroids flying close to the earth (and there are several companies that deal with this topic), the whole “specificity” is not as unique as it may seem.
“I hired a sales represetative once, sent him out in the field and he didn’t bring me any orders / clients”
And if I said – “deliver the car to me” – without specifying what kind of car it is, what type of body, color, engine power, is it to be domestic or foreign, a serial model or a custom design? Probably you will go to work willingly (after all, you are a manager and problem solving is everyday life), the only question is whether the end result would be what I meant?
Common situations are:
- no specific (SMART) sales target
- lack of tools for its implementation (including communication know-how)
- no sales process in the company
- failure to measure the progress of commercial activities
- assessing the effectiveness of sales activities, switching off “by effects”
If you do not show people “how to acquire customers in our company”, that is, among others:
- what is the segmentation of the market in which we operate
- what values do we provide to clients as a company
- what are the sales targets and intermediate parameters (KPIs)
- what tools are at his disposal
- how to conduct engaging conversations with clients
- how to conduct a needs survey
- how to negotiate commercial terms
- how to finalize the sale and other …
…then you can’t count on your people “should know”. It is on the side of the company to pass on all the know-how that an effective sales represetative should have. So do not expect “delivery of the car” without providing the design facilities, workshop and parts needed to assemble a specific model.
“I have been working on references for years and the business works well”
And maybe that’s why you stay in the SMB segment. By basing your sales solely on referrals, you have little influence on who, to whom and how many recommendations your business makes. You have limited influence on sales activities, and a large part of them is beyond your control. What if you want to enter new market segments where you have no contacts? What if you want to increase sales in a controlled, repeatable way, and the pool of your contacts is more or less constant?
Basing sales solely on referrals is a significant limitation of the company’s growth potential through increased sales.
“I will not allow anyone to contact my clients because they can steal them”
In fact, history knows many such cases. However, this can be counteracted by using basic occupational hygiene and concluding appropriate agreements (here we write more about protection against competition). The first will be a confidentiality agreement, the next will be a non-competition agreement. You can also manage your customer base so that not everyone has access to everything. When developing a business, however, it is worth assuming good will and shaping the organizational culture in such a way that employees and business partners are loyal and reasonably know that “together you can do more”, and acting “on the side” is a short-term tactic. However, what will best protect against a simple takeover of customers will be the processes in the company – all the know-how about how the company provides value. When the goodwill is in the perfect business organization and the entry barrier is high – it will not be easy to copy and offer a product / service at a similarly high level. Finally, if the customer is simply satisfied with the value delivered, they will be less likely to be offered by competitors. After all, a competitor can “steal a customer”, not just an employee.
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