Prospect Rant #6 My BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT person is NEVER in the OFFICE

Rant #6 My BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT person is NEVER in the OFFICE!

Time spent in the office – now this one cracks me up.  “I never see them; they only stop in the office for a few minutes at a time then head right back out the door.”  If you’d like your BD person to sit in the office and play spider solitaire then you are wasting a lot of money, they are supposed to be out – meeting new people, holding meetings, creating partners, etc.  The last thing you want them to do is sit IN the office.  That being said if you have not created some type of communication system or accountability system then you may have a problem on your hands.  We’ve created a communication structure with our clients that allows them to be kept up to date and keeps us from having to fill out huge spreadsheets or databases.

Asking a Business Developer to spend time filling out spreadsheets is a colossal waste of time and most of them won’t do it anyway – it really goes against their core nature.  You do however need to be kept up to date in a reasonable fashion to ensure the pipeline is moving forward.  I would suggest an easy to manage CRM or communication structure.

The bigger issue is if your BD person IS ALWAYS IN THE OFFICE – then they have nothing to do …and that’s a real problem.  I find that most CEO’s struggle with the concept that this person should be out all day and yet when they are in the office, because they are usually a lot of fun no one notices that maybe they aren’t doing what they should be doing.  This BD role can also create challenges within the office – some employees may get upset that this person “gets paid for eating lunch and going to happy hour” so be mindful of the internal sabotage.  Part of this person’s role is to create relationships and that typically requires lunches and happy hours to network, with prospects or with clients.

Prospect Rant #5 – They said they had connections

Rant #5 – They TOLD ME they had great connections

It’s now 6 months later and we have no meetings scheduled.  I have to admit I love this one because it can happen across the board.  It can be your $225k hire, the retired military leader, the retired Agency head, the “commercial expert” or the newbie, etc.  You’re paying for action not cards in a rolodex.  How many former executives do you know that actually handled the sales process?  Not too many – so why would you expect them to do it for you?  You hired them for one reason and one reason only – to make introductions for you and now in order to see your investment flourish you need to pair them with someone who can communicate the opportunity and move the opportunity forward.

It can also happen with your in-house Business Development person, anyone can say they know people and how many CRM’s are filled with names and numbers that represent a person they met once at an event 5 years ago?  Again Business Development is about connections, strategy and execution.  You’re looking for someone who can figure out the puzzle, methodically go about meeting and meeting with your desired prospects, communicate in the most effective way the value that prospect would receive in working with you and moving that prospect along the pipeline IF they are the right fit.  The last thing you want is someone trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.  You want right fit clients and you need the person who is willing to walk away from a deal if in the short or long run they know it’s not going to work.  The frustration and potential damage to your reputation just isn’t worth a few months of revenue.

Let’s be honest, sales is a crap shoot.  There really is no way to tell if someone you interview really has strong connections or not (unless of course you’ve seen this person in action over a long period of time).  There’s also no way you can identify their strategic capabilities or their desire to execute.  What does work is communication and accountability.  This in no way implies you should be a micro-manager however there does need to be a standard for how information is delivered to you and vice versa.

Prospect Rant #3 – Cheap Labor

Continuation of the Bob London of London, Ink “Customer Rant”  posts, see previous posts for more information.

 

Rant #3  I should be able to hire someone for $30k right?  If they’re really good they’ll make it up in commissions

Here’s the issue, the good ones know their value and $30k is an insult.  You are essentially asking someone with 15+ years of experience with amazing connections that they are essentially going to drop in your lap, someone with a strategic mindset who can build and manage long term relationships and make you look like a genius to accept the equivalent of $15 per hour.  Here’s what $30k will get you – $30k will get you someone extremely junior who requires a lot of training and mentoring – aka no commissions coming in any time soon.  I’m certainly not saying this is a bad idea – for some it’s a perfect fit – you want to look for a real go getter, someone with a lot of energy but just know they will require a lot of time and energy on your part for training and eventually will leave you at some point for more money.  My friend Andy Miller of Big Swift Kick just loves when prospects ask him to work on a success fee only structure.  His answer is simply perfect, he says “sure, I’d love to.  We’ll just have to make sure the contract is buttoned up and I’ll need 3 references of people who have worked on a success fee with you before where you’ve actually written the big check”.  Look this isn’t our first rodeo, we’ve all been asked to do this before and we’ve all said yes and we’ve all been screwed.  There are a couple of issues at play here:

  • We don’t necessarily have access to all your systems so we have to trust that the numbers we see in the end are correct and you actually have to abide by your word and write the check
  • There’s a difference between an increase in sales revenue and an increase in profit.  If you add to the expenses at the same time sales are increasing your profit may actually shrink and it wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried to hold us accountable to their inability to manage expenses.
  • You need to give us free reign and most CEO’s aren’t willing to let us control all aspects of their sales environment including terminating those who may be a hindrance.
  • More so than any of the others, you aren’t taking this seriously.  The CEO who is serious about growing their business understands investment.

 

 

Springboard Prospect Rant #2 – I Can’t Keep a Sales Person

Continuation of the Bob London of London, Ink “Customer Rant” posts, see previous posts for more information and the slide share of the presentation.

Springboard Prospect Rant #2– I can’t keep a SALES Person

Typically when a prospect finds us it’s because they’ve tried the traditional route and it just isn’t working for them.  They’ve hired 2-3 sales people over the last couple of years and they have either left or failed.  The issue may be the hire, or it may be in the process, the management of the sales person or in management altogether.   Here’s what we typically see:

 

  • They hire the person based off how they interview and their resume, not qualifications or references – interviews and resumes aren’t always 100% accurate
  • They hire the person who has spent their entire career doing something other than sales and yet expects them to be closing deals in 2 months – this is a person who requires training and mentoring
  • They hire family or friends where the challenge becomes accountability, how do you tell your child, your friend that they aren’t living up to expectations?  This can be an excellent idea but it can also have damaging consequences.
  • They hire without plans for tools, expenses or process of accountability.  Tools – tracking, Customer Relationship Management, communication.  Expenses:  mileage, phone, lunches, events, memberships, etc.  Accountability – who, what, when, how?
  • They want the professional who comes with a rolodex, who is on a first name basis with decision makers, who can shorten the time it takes to get in the door, who can frame them as experts in their field, who has a process for management and follow up and who can ask and have answered some challenging questions.   This can be an excellent hire and it can also backfire.   Former executive levels at times can fall into the trap of schmoozing with little follow up and execution – if you think about it, it makes perfect sense; they always had someone else to do it for them.  This would be a great person to partner with an in house program manager or business development manager.

 

Essentially what we end up seeing is the person who should be producing but isn’t getting a very long leash costing the company far more than it should or the newer professional who needs in depth training, mentoring and time expected to perform like a pro immediately.  Sometimes it’s the hire, sometimes it’s the training, sometimes it’s the expectations.