Why you need a sales guy

Written by Verne on September 28th, 2007

As with every entrepreneur fostering the growth and development of a blooming company, you inevitably find yourself splitting more and more of your responsibilities to other individuals. Ask Evan Carmichael of YoungEntrepreneur.com and he’ll tell you that delegation is one of the key elements to master for any young go-getter. And it’s not so much the idea of taking the load off your own shoulders, but the concept that you should better focus your strengths in one area rather than wear yourself thin that makes delegation a strategic move.

Since the spawn of my creative agency almost 4 years ago, I’ve naturally fulfilled this process by bringing on great partners along the way to take on different faculties of the business such as finance/accounting, IT, and strategic marketing. Whether it was to pass on the responsibility to more experienced hands or to add extra hands to my personal expertise, this growth strategy has worked well for us.

Naturally, the next step in this progression is to branch out our sales efforts. Like most small companies, we’ve believed all along that sales is one of those areas that can be kept within the available stream of people to manage along with everything else (sadly, marketing is thought of in the same fashion for many organizations). However, during an interesting conversation with two of my best friends tonight, one of which happens to be one of the best salesmen I know, I started thinking about the importance of a dedicated sales guy within the roster of any organization. More specifically, I got to contemplating why my business needs a sales guy and why others in the same position would need one (or two, or three…) too.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Focus on your strengths
    Going back to my point about delegation, focusing your efforts on one or a few areas will always be more effective than spreading yourself thinly across a lot of them. I’m a marketing specialist (so says my degree) with an eye for creative work. As much as sales is related to marketing, they’re not the same. I’m not a salesman and I will probably never be one completely. Rather than working on perfecting my sales skills while also trying to perfect my marketing instincts and creative senses, why not let someone else take it on? For the same reason that you know those all-in-one machines won’t do each task as well as a machine that is dedicated to that task will, dedicating someone to selling will greatly improve your sales strategy and allow you to better apply your area of expertise.
     
  2. Sooner or later, referrals won’t be enough
    Our agency has been fairly fortunate up to now and have survived almost purely on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. But since starting this gig full-time, I’ve realized that with more time comes a work capacity that is greater than what referrals can fulfill. With most freelancers, this is a familiar territory that calls for the need to perform some active sales tactics. The problem is, the more time spent on selling, is the less time spent on other areas, like execution (and we return to the problem noted in the first point). So, if you’re like us and have depended on referrals to maintain your flow of revenue, then get ready to face a dose of reality: you’ll need to do some selling eventually. Who better to tackle this responsibility than a sales guy?
     
  3. Keep the pipeline full
    If you’re a freelancer or are part of a small organization that doesn’t have a dedicated sales person, it can be difficult to balance the projects you’re working on and the projects you’re hoping to win. You’re caught in a difficult position because if you don’t fill up your pipeline with upcoming projects you’ll run out of work. Yet, if you spend too much time closing deals, your current projects may suffer. On the other hand, if you had a sales guy, he or she could focus on bringing in the new clients while you can maintain your focus on keeping them happy through quality work. Ah, an equilibrium is reached.
     
  4. Have a bigger piece of pie
    Of course, the number one concern with bringing on an extra head is money. “Why would I take a chunk out of what I’m currently earning in order to pay a sales guy?”, you ask. Look at it this way: while the percentage of earnings that you gain will decrease, the amount of total earnings will increase. In other words, you are sacrificing a larger percentage of the pie for a larger pie in general (which inevitably gives you a bigger piece of pie!). That’s the target anyway. It may not be this way at first, but once ramped up, having a sales guy could essentially increase your revenue stream by bringing in more clients and projects.
     

Naturally, adding a sales guy to the team isn’t for everyone. If you’re comfortable with the current flow of work and your capacity is being fully utilized, then you’re probably still okay to not take this route. Otherwise, consider adding a sales guy as part of the next evolution of your org structure for the reasons stated above. I know I will.

Note: the terms ‘sales guy’ and ‘salesman’ are used purely as a traditional industry term and is meant to include both males and females in sales roles.икони

6 Responses

  • Satish

    Amen, when do we get ours then?

    I think there are lots of approaches to bringing on your sales force, in a small business it surely doesn’t have to be at a partner level. Depending on the extent of knowledge, type of approach, and turnover your willing to put up with you can anywhere from commission based all-stars, commission based freelancers, full-time staff, students with phones and feet, vendor sales firms, and then the partner option.

  • giz

    it’s funny – i was trying to decide whether i should leave where i am and go into a purely sales and marketing position. what scares me? living off purely commission for the first 6 months, to do all the sales so i would be able to be “promoted” to do more of the marketing and client side.

    but yes, i agree. sales is very important :)

  • giz

    and, please notice “www.gizellelau.com” :) haha.

  • Verne

    Satish makes a good point – there are many permutations of how you can integrate a sales guy into your teatm, and it certainly doesn’t have to be at the partner level. We’ll get ours soon, Satish, I promise. :)

    Giz – good to have you back in good health! Sales is a pretty tough way of life, but if you’re good at it, you’re going to be better off than a lot of people. Like all other professions, you need the passion to get you through the rough patches.

    And congrats on the branded domain! So when are we going to do something about your portfolio? ;)

    Can anybody explain the odd Digg phenomenon that’s happening on his post?

  • Allan

    Excellent post. I’ve been considering hiring a salesperson, how should this process be started?

  • Verne

    Hi Allan,

    You need to start by defining the sales role before you begin. I’d consider looking at your business first and figuring out what sales model fits best. If your demand for a full-time salesperson isn’t critical, then consider a commission model. However, if you have the resources and the need, hiring full-time or part-time may be your best approach. You’ll also need to clearly detail the expectations, responsibilities and objectives of your ideal candidate, which will make it easier for you to determine who fits the role.

    Once you’ve figured out how the salesperson fits into your business it’s a matter of finding the right individual(s). I’d suggest to search within your established network of contacts first before going out and posting on job boards. Ask for referrals and recommendations, as they are far more likely to give you quality talent than a job board.

    Hope that helps to get you started!

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