Some of the smartest money you can spend as a small business owner is to hire a good salesperson or sales team. That was one of the key takeaways from a panel discussion I attended last week hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners in NYC (NAWBO-NYC).
Small business owners wear many hats, but in reality, how many of these hats fit really well? And even more to the point, how many hats can you wear at the same time and do a great job at all of them? Although it is difficult for owners and founders of companies to relinquish the sales function so they can work on the business, forming the right sales team is one of the most effective ways to grow a business exponentially.
This advice might sound obvious, but when business owners are confronted with the recommendation to hire sales people, these are some of the objections they raise:
- No one can sell my company/product/service like I can
- My business will no longer reflect my brand
- No one will work as hard as I will to make a sale
- I’m great at sales
All of the above may be true, but you have to decide whether your full time job is to work on the business or in the business. Building a business that is structured so that it can operate without you allows the opportunity to spend more time focusing on the bigger picture of how you want your business to grow and what you need to do to get there. The added bonus of all this is that when your business is structured for growth, you create an asset that can eventually be sold.
Here are some steps to take that can help guide you in the sales team building process:
Hire the skills you need. Are you looking for someone who can bring in new business, or do you need someone who can cultivate existing clients? Be clear on what you need. Expecting one person to satisfy all your needs is a set up for failure.
Communicate your brand and your company’s brand to your salespeople. Clearly articulate the values in your work place and define your organization’s culture. If your salespeople are aligned with your values and mission, they will be better brand ambassadors for the business. Additionally, when you are all on the same page, the business runs a lot smoother and with far less friction.
Educate your team on your financials. It can be difficult to talk finances with employees, but the conversation needs to happen so your salespeople have an understanding of profitability levels and where they should best invest their time. Make your sales people your strategic partners by allowing them to help define the path for growth.
Compensate your sales people well. Provide sales team members a generous upside to their compensation linked directly to their performance. Since they are your company’s growth engine, don’t be averse to paying them more than you make, especially in the early years.
Admit a bad hiring decision and act on it. Don’t expect to strike gold the first time around. If you have hired the wrong person for the job act swiftly and try again. It’s not easy to find the right fit, but don’t be afraid to be stubborn about what you seek in a candidate.
As owner or founder of your business you are probably the best brand ambassador you can find. But running and growing a business takes a lot of time, and if you take on too many roles, there’s a good chance you can’t do the best job you can on any one of them. Create the structure you need so your business can grow the way you want.
Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Coach with over 25 years experience as an entrepreneur and career professional and 10 years in business and finance. Mary is a dynamic and passionate coach whose talent is empowering entrepreneurs and careerists to perform at their peak by gaining clarity and more effectively communicating and leveraging their value proposition. For more insight into her work visit her website at http://yourcareerbydesign.com or follow her on Twitter