Sales Ecosystem vs Hire, Hope, Fire
Create a Competitive Advantage by Building a Sales Ecosystem[In Part 1 Bill expected Sam to at least give him some resumes. Instead, Sam offered to share what he had learned about building a sales ecosystem.]
Bill and Sam sit down with coffees and Sam asks, “Tell me a little about your experience or understanding of growing sales for a business?”
“My experience of selling is based on my personal sales efforts. I’ve read books, listened to others, taken a training or two. I’m pretty good at selling and figured it’s time to duplicate myself. I need a salesperson or at least someone to find new opportunities for me to close.”
“Bill, your sales skills helped you achieve initial success, which is a key first step toward building a sales ecosystem. Your sales efforts give you a sense of your ideal customer and value offer. It’s logical to think the next step would be to duplicate yourself. Actually, after my experience with the two salespeople, I know the critical first step is focus on building a sales ecosystem. Trying to duplicate yourself or hiring without a sales ecosystem is what I call Hire, Hope, Fire.“
What is a Sales Ecosystem?
“That’s really descriptive for how owners talk about hiring salespeople, Sam. Hire someone, hope they can sell and if they don’t, fire them and start over. I’m starting to get a sense for the depth of your original question; is the business ready to support a salesperson’s success. When you say sales ecosystem, is that like a sales plan?“
“Not even in the same ballpark, Bill. In fact not even the same sport. Sales plans don’t drive sales, but most owners either spend a lot of time on planning or no time at all. Most just default to a salesperson to write the plan. At best, the salesperson is guessing. They may have a lot of opinions about the market, but that’s not their strength and they definitely don’t know your business. Sure they can set targets and goals for themselves if they are supported by a sales ecosystem. But, asking a salesperson to write a business sales plan is like taking their expertise at selling pies and expecting them to know how to make and bake the pies, at the same time. Two very different skill sets. If they’re writing a plan, they’re not selling.”
“Okay, okay, Sam. Here’s what I’m hearing you say. While I know how to sell and have some success with that, I don’t know jack, at least not yet, about how to build a sales ecosystem for sustainable business growth.“
“Great, you’re tracking with me and I like how you said, at least not yet. Doing personal sales and building a sales ecosystem are very different processes. This realization helped me focus on what really grows revenue. Take a look at this xy graph on my phone (see graph below).
“This graph helps you think about growing revenue starting from a 30,000 foot perspective. It’s like looking at a Google map from the satellite view. As you scroll into the map, more and more roads, streets, names and specific locations are revealed until you are standing at street level with a clear view of your destination.”
As Bill looks at the graph, he says, “Interesting, looks pretty simple and straight forward. It brings up a lot of questions, but what did you think about it when you first saw this?”
“When I first saw it, I couldn’t even say I was anywhere on the graph and realized why my hire, hope, fire process was a big mistake. It made me realize I didn’t have any understanding for how sales really happen much less have any sort of infrastructure or systems to support growing revenue. It was explained to me to view this graph like I would a road map. At any point and time I would always know where I am relative to where I want to be. Believe me, as you drill down into this graph you will develop a better understanding of the sales ecosystem and what is needed to support and hold salespeople accountable. Which quadrant would you say your business is today relative to supporting a salesperson to be successful?”
“I’m like you, not even close to being on the map. So, where does this come from? Did you make this up? You’ve said there’s a lot more to this.”
“I didn’t come up with it, but I can introduce you to Cindy, who developed this and a complete operating system for building a sales ecosystem. In fact, she helped me build out the sales ecosystem you and others say is one of the more successful sales teams in town.”
“Okay, Sam. While this is interesting, I’ve talked to multiple sales consultants, coaches, recruiters and trainers. It’s all pretty confusing because each one only talks about a single piece of the puzzle and they assume I know where their puzzle piece fits. So, what makes Cindy different?”
What can a Sales Ecosystem do for your business?
“The best part is she meets you and the business where you are in the process. She knew I wasn’t even on the map and didn’t try to convince me to do something the business wasn’t prepared to do. You’ve talked with consultants who approach you with a specific tool, training or process they want to fit into your business. This isn’t Cindy’s approach because she thinks like a business owner and knows the sales ecosystem from the satellite view down to what resources are needed, what must get done, who must do it and when it must happen to achieve desired results. Growing revenue is a complex process that must be integrated into all aspects of the business. It takes time, investment and experience. Cindy knows how to make it happen within your budget and objectives. She makes it easy for you to understand so you make good strategic decisions.”
“Sam, you’ve made me realize how little I really know or understand about growing revenue for the business. The truth is, I’ve never considered how sales is integrated into every aspect of the business. Of course, I know sales produces revenue, but I thought hire a salesperson and everything would fall into place. That’s what worked when I hired the accountant to manage Quickbooks. So, you’re recommending Cindy. What results did she produce for you?”
“Two years after engaging Cindy, sales had doubled and gross margins improved. The business is profitable even with fast growth, has good cash flow, operations are running the best ever, I’m hiring great people throughout the organization and the business is positioned to scale to the next revenue objective. For the first time I really feel like I’ve got clear visibility into the business, I’m building a sustainable business and I’ve got viable options as opposed to swinging from challenge to growth to crisis.”
“Sam, that’s pretty impressive. And, all this time, we thought you were the brains behind your brilliant rise to success.”
“You’re pretty funny, Bill. You know success takes a great team and you’ll learn it takes a highly experienced team to build a solid sales ecosystem. Trying to build it with people who don’t know or don’t have the experience, I don’t care how smart you think you are, you will fail. We’ve both seen that happen more often than not.”
“So, true, Sam, and you’re making this sound pretty expensive. Highly experienced people don’t come cheap. I like what I’m hearing, but how would Cindy work with a company like mine?”
“That’s something you and she will discuss, but I had all the same thoughts you have. I was surprised at the way she and her team approach an engagement. I just wish I had met her before I made my mistakes. I know she can help you avoid my biggest mistakes.”
“I’d like to hear more about her background, experience and how she approaches an engagement, Sam.”
“Sure, let me grab some refills and I’ll share that with you.”
Sam’s goes for refills. Join Sam and Bill for the conclusion….
Avoid the $100,000 Hire, Hope and Fire Mistake
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