Want to be happier, make more money, and grow your company? Of course you do — that’s success in business.
We all want it… and we want it fast.
As a consultant, I’ve seen a ton of AV companies try out all sorts of shortcuts to grow their businesses overnight. One of those shortcuts is hiring a salesperson with their own accounts.
The truth is, it’s never that simple.
In fact, hiring salespeople with this approach prevents us from growing. Here’s why:
Who Owns the Accounts?
If you believe that hiring a salesperson with accounts will help your business grow, you need to reframe your view of account ownership.
While the idea of hiring someone with accounts is appealing, the idea of losing an employee and their accounts is terrifying. If I believe I can hire a salesperson with accounts, I also believe my salespeople “own” their clients.
This creates a culture of fear — fear that they’ll leave for another job and take their accounts with them. And that’s just not how business works anymore.
Why We Think Salespeople Own Their Accounts
If that’s not how business works, why do we believe it?
Blame the Rolodex.
Back in the day, before we had computers, we had rolodexes on our desks.
Paper and ink. Names and phone numbers.
When a salesperson left, they picked up their rolodex and took their contacts with them. As a company, we often didn’t even have our own clients’ phone numbers because everything went through the salesperson.
This is why the myth that we should hire a salesperson with their own accounts still persists. It’s the way it used to be done.
Likely, we all know of a time where hiring someone with their own accounts worked. We probably did it once — but it was 20+ years ago. If you’re too young to remember this from your own experience, your mentors likely taught you about it. They tell stories of the time they hired a salesperson who brought two million dollars worth of business with them. While that was a great move back then, it’s highly implausible now.
Why One New Salesperson Won’t Make Your Company Grow
We’re in the 21st century, and 21st century customers do business with companies — not salespeople. In today’s industry, clients know multiple people in your organization and often engage more often with your team than your salesperson.
When you ask a customer about their relationship with individual salespeople, they will often point out, “I like Bob, but we also enjoy these other people in your firm.” They’re not doing business with your company because of one person — they’re doing business because of your company as a whole.
Also, new salespeople may be great at selling products, but they’re the least equipped to sell your company.
Think about it practically. If a new salesperson managed to leave their old firm and bring their accounts, how would they approach those customers? How would they advocate for your company when they just told their client last month that their previous company was the best in the business? These new salespeople won’t be able to sell their new employer. They don’t know anything about you yet and their customers won’t automatically buy in.
You also have to consider your target audience. Millennials are no longer just workers in your warehouse. Now, they’re your customers (and maybe even your boss). Millennials don’t think in terms of salesperson-driven business. Tell a young executive that you MUST buy from me, the salesperson and watch how quickly they take their business elsewhere. We’re in a different century and the myth of “relationship selling” no longer applies.
How to Grow Your Business the Right Way
Stop relying on salespeople to make or break your business success. Quit buying into the relationship-selling myth that says clients do business with you because of your one-on-one relationship. That’s hurting your business.
Here’s what you need to do instead:
Develop Company-To-Buyer Relationships
Your clients would rather have confidence in the entire company than believe they’re relying on one individual. You can do this by recruiting great customer-facing personnel. While it never hurts to have good-looking, likable salespeople, you need other people in your organization who are easy to get along with and demonstrate high levels of customer service.
Prove Your Credibility Online
You’ll also grow your business by using marketing to develop your credibility. In the last century, your credibility depended on your salesperson, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. To prove credibility in today’s market, you need a smart website.
If your salesperson tries to pitch to a millennial, they’ll say, “That’s nice. Text me next time instead of calling me.” Then, they’ll look at your website. If it’s not credible, you won’t be worth doing business with.
Make sure your website sends the right message to the right people.
Use a CRM Software
If you’re not already using a CRM (Customer relationship management) software, start now. It’s how we store and share information. Think of CRM as a matrix-networked rolodex. Every rolodex in the company is networked together. Every time an employee sends a quote or fills an order, it adds the info to their file.
Then, whoever works with the client in the future not only has their contact info, they have a full record of their history with the company.
Give New Salespeople Strong Accounts
When it’s time to hire a new salesperson, the best thing you can do is seed them with strong accounts immediately. Don’t expect new sales reps to find their own clients. They shouldn’t have to spend 6-9 months trying to make a sale to justify their existence.
Let them work with your systems and processes. Put them in front of customers. A successful salesperson attracts new business. To make them even more successful, establish a sales incentive program that supports the goals of the firm.
When you’re eager to grow your business quickly, the solution is not hiring a salesperson with accounts — that’s the unicorn. It doesn’t really exist. When you need to hire new salespeople, realize that growth may come, but it will take work. Be ready to onboard them and do your part in making them successful.