Hired for a Sales Management position with fancy compensation, car allowance and great expectations from you because of your impressive resume and great interview? Beware! Sometimes great expectations are only the start of a sales person’s nightmare.
Here is the story of the rise and fall of my latest business development venture with a so-called Great Canadian Company (GCC):
After experiencing the downfall of my B2B lead generation business in 2012, I was hired by one of my competitors. As I discovered in my first month of employment , I was the 3rd in succession of recently fired predecessors who did not meet the company’s performance expectations.
Traditionally the GCC was getting business from prospects calling in. The company had enjoyed years of prosperity, which had recently come to an end. The GCC sales team was the first to be blamed, and management decided that they had enough “farmers”. Now they would be hiring ” hunters”, who would be expected to generate leads and close sales without company support. Any incoming prospects would not be supplied to hunters, keeping them hungry, scared and frustrated. This was intended to generate prospects through whatever efforts the hunters chose: business networking, personal connections, and telemarketing lead generation. I got to work.
For the first 3 months, I managed to generate about 1000 qualified leads, made hundreds of presentations, but… had very little to show in closed sales and new accounts. After 7 months I was let go because I did not meet the ” Great Expectations” of my new employer.
Why did it happen? Here comes the reality checklist.
1. Has the company realistically evaluated market demand prior to investing in a new “hunter” position? Apparently, the hunter position itself was the ” marketing research” GCC was doing.
2. Was I given enough time for my effort to come to fruition? Apparently not, because prospects generated by cold efforts such as telemarketing lead generation take more time to close.
3. Was I given enough support? The GCC company had their own telemarketing team, which was doing cold calling and pressuring people into saying yes to meet with me. Did I close those leads? The answer is no, because this mass approach and numbers game strategy, rather than building relationships, was perceived by the prospects as a nuisance. My follow ups leads were not here.
4. Could it have been done differently? The answer is yes: I needed more time, more budget for networking, and my own telemarketing lead generation team, which would be smaller, less formal and focused on relationship-building rather than sheer quantity.
5. Would results come? What are the results? If the company sees results only as sales generated and new accounts created, the great expectations will stay unmet. If the company sees their sales people not as hunters, farmers or miracle workers, but as partners; people who provide service in building relationships with target markets one event at a time, one call at a time, one presentation at a time, then the results will come. Those results will be not only be contracts signed, but a great reputation in the business community, multiple referrals, satisfied customers and empowered sales teams for many years to come.
Who can afford it? Not many. An internal sales force is very expensive, and ROI is delayed and hard to define. What’s the solution? Outsource your sales and telemarketing lead generation to a professional company. Keep your budget small, give it some time, but do it consistently, and over time your business will flourish.