Don’t Be a Statistic
Stop Setting Your Sales Team Up to Fail
A lot of startups and companies launching new products look to hire a salesperson with the expectation that this single hire will be able to take on the entire sales process…
…From demand generation to discovery…
…From discovery to actually closing deals on new business….
…And somehow succeed.
This just doesn’t work.
I myself worked in a startup as an intern, with little to no sales experience, and was held to this expectation. It didn’t work out so well.
It wasn’t a matter of poor intentions or lack of effort. The founders I interned for really did try to set me up for success, and I hit a lot of the output and outcome objectives that were set for me. For one reason or another however, the steps I was instructed to take didn’t contribute to the volume of revenue the company was expecting.
So what was the problem?
Rex Biberston might argue that in my case the startup’s failure to hit revenue targets has to do with what he calls “The Myth of The MacGyver Sales Rep.” Rex defines The MacGyver Sales Rep as a sales professional who can successfully fulfill roles like Director of Sales, Sales Manager, and Salesperson simultaneously.
The MacGyver Sales Rep is capable of so much, with very little. You might call him resourceful. Rex would call him fiction. In his own words, “MacGyver isn’t real,” and neither is The MacGyver Sales Rep.
So maybe that’s why at 22-years old I was a little puzzled when I was executing the company’s sales process to a T and still wasn’t seeing the revenue that was suppose to result from that process.
Do you know who might have been able to solve such a puzzle?
An experienced Director of Sales, that’s who.
Even though their intentions were in the right place, I think Rex would conclude that the founders I was working for hadn’t truly enabled me to succeed. Their sales process had yet to be proven and I was being evaluated on the used of a broken system.
Their startup simply wasn’t ready to be hiring salespeople. They may have been ready for a business development rep (BDR) or two, someone whose sole responsibility is to initiate conversations with prospective customers and qualify them as legitimate prospects, but not for deal closers.
In an article for Inc. Matthew Bellows identifies three signs that signal it is time for a company to hire salespeople.
3 Signs You’re Ready to Hire a Salesperson
1. There is Enough Opportunity. There has to be revenue that you can identify, but that you cannot pull into your company because you are too busy selling to or servicing other accounts.
2. Your Offer is Awesome. Your offer is so awesome in fact, that you have reference clients—paying customers who a salespersons can leverage while pursuing prospects. You want a potential sales hire to think, “Oh man, if I can name-drop customers like these, there is no way I’ll have a hard time getting sales. I’m going to MAKE A KILLING working here!”
3. Your Culture Can Handle an Influx of Sales Energy. Bringing in salespeople is going to change the atmosphere of your company. Hiring a salesperson too early is a great way to distract the team, waste your money, and bury a company.
Only when you can say all three of these conditions exist for your business will you have a chance at successfully recruiting, hiring, and retaining the the right kind of sales talent for your organization.
The Foundation of a Successful Sales Team
At base of any successful sales effort is a plan for how sales will be made. That repeatable process of selling includes how to identify prospects, how to qualify prospects, how to assess a customer’s needs/wants, and how to fulfill promises made during the buyer’s journey.
However, as a leader in a company getting ready to launch a new product you might find yourself hoping and praying that The MacGyver Sales Rep isn’t a myth for the exact same reasons so many have been mislead by the myth before you.
First, because sales is time consuming. As a founder or director of operations you don’t have the bandwidth to be the one actively selling day in and day out indefinitely.
And second, because you don’t have the money to hire a veteran Director of Sales.
Of course, without a Director of Sales you’re also likely to be without a well defined and proven sales process or documentation of that process (i.e. a sales playbook) that the entry-level salesperson you can afford to hire will need in order to succeed in their role.
Writing Your Sales Playbook Through Delegation
Knowing you need a Director of Sales and being able to afford one are two different things. Director of Sales is not an entry-level position. If entry-level is all you have a budget for you can still hire sales professionals, but you’ll have to do so while wearing the Director of Sales hat yourself, at least for a little while.
I’m talking about adding business development reps (BDRs) or sales development reps (SDRs) to your team before fully fledged salespeople. The job of a BDR or SDR is to initiate conversations with prospective customers and qualify them as legitimate prospects.
As Brendan Alan Barrett suggests in a interview on the Sales Babble Podcast, the role of an SDR is something that can easily be taught to an entry-level sales professional.
Once an SDR as won the attention of a qualified prospect all they have to do is hand off those qualified opportunities to a founder or other leader in the startup to play doctor on, come up with a customized offer or pitch, and usher the deal towards the finish line of a sale.
YES – This means you have yet to delegate the entirety of your sales process, but as a leader in an organization selling something for the very first time you will have delegated the most time consuming aspects of your sales process: the generating and qualifying of opportunities.
By delegating outbound prospecting activity you free yourself up to have more conversations with prospects closest to a buying decision. This increased number and frequency of end-of-funnel sales conversations will give you insight you can back-feed to your SDRs through training.
As you accumulate more and more insight you’ll be able to better train your SDRs on how they can better win the attention of buyers and more quickly disqualify the kinds of prospects who will never buy from you.
Test, Improve, Prove, and Then Delegate
Outbound prospecting activity is the easiest part of your company’s sales playbook to write. As such you can delegate it most quickly. Doing so allows you to focus your own day-to-day actives on how to revise and improve how your company approaches both early and late stage parts of your sales process.
It is these sames activities – the end-of-funnel conversations – that allow you to explore the different ways you can best serve the market, how your offer fits into the market most competitively, and how you can enable salespeople to have their own end-of-funnel sales conversation with the highest closing percentage possible.
Defining Your Company Sales Process
While Delegating to SDRs at Minute 11:04
About The Author of This Article: Eric Reilly worked in a butcher shop for 2 years before he left to pursue becoming a qualified digital marketer. Now, he has a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing and he is the Owner/Operator of an online website called Guitarmuso.com.
Eric is a Social Media Manager and hopes to travel as much of the world as possible with his girlfriend.
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