Monday Morning Manager For The Small Business Owner

On October 11th my post dealt with the plight of the small business owner who had built his or her company from zip to $2.8M and then watched as sales failed to grow for the next 18 months. The scenario is one where the owner, reluctantly, realizes that he or she has to/should hire a salesperson.

And here is the question for all MMM’s. You have a business owner who has watched sales level off for the last 18 months and they are faced with the prospect of hiring a salesperson for the first time when:

1. They have never hired a salesperson before.

2. They don’t know where to find a good rep.

3. They have never managed a salesperson.

4. They have never trained a rep.

5. They’re not sure they even like salespeople.

6. They’d rather not share commission dollars.

7. They don’t know the difference between a marginal, good or pro salesperson.

It is also safe to assume that the more technical, creative and stubborn the owner of the business is the better the chance that they will hire a complete dud! Why? They’ll hire anybody just to get someone on the street; the less time spent the better; the less money spent on compensation the better. In this case less is not better!

This is one time when a smart business owner needs to consult mentors, other owners or even their friendly sales management consultant for advice on how to proceed. Here are some things these people will tell the owner:

1. Document the type of sales person the company needs. For example do they need a hunter, farmer or combination of both?

2. Use a quality recruiter to save time in finding candidates.

3. Do not put an ad in the paper because the owner will spend eighty percent of their time sorting through resumes and interviewing “expert resume creators.”

4. Document a training program so the rep gets off on the right selling foot.

5. Create a compensation plan that will attract a quality salesperson.

6. Consider hiring a company that gets leads for the owner. (This is not a bad interim solution until the owner has a clear idea of who they want to hire.)

7. Decide whether the the first salesperson should be an inside “lead-generating” salesperson or a rep who will work in the field selling.

8. Should the owner consider using independent reps or distributors to sell the product, thereby eliminating the cost of a direct salesperson?

There are so many factors that impact the decisions the owner has to make. With a direct rep the cost, with benefits and comp plan, will run over $100K annually. You can get away with this if you hire a rep out of college or one with little experience; however, if you take this route you will probably be looking for a replacement rep within six months. How much time will the owner have to train the new hire? And on and on.

The bottom line here is that the owner has to do something. Doing something signals the employees and the customers that the owner is ready to move from $2.8M to $10M. Does this take courage? Yes. It also says that the owner has grown up and decided to “risk” moving out of his or her comfort zone.

The Final Thought: “Guts are a combination of confidence, courage, conviction, strength of character, stick-to-itiveness, pugnaciousness, backbone, and intestinal fortitude. They are mandatory for anyone who wants to get to and stay at the top.” D.A. Benton

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