Have you ever heard the phrase: “My eyes were bigger than my stomach”? This saying relates to the situation of biting off more than you can chew. You end up not being able to finish what you started. Are you contemplating hiring your first sales force, which may be no more than a small team of sales people with or without management? If you are a startup, you know what I am talking about. If you are an established business, who is rebooting, you know what I am talking about. It’s common to find out, after 12 months and a consultant’s salary, that you have bitten off more than you can chew. It could be that your sales model is out of alignment with your business model.
Why? You may have formed your sales team prematurely.
Are you the CEO of a startup? Perhaps you are the president of a mature company bouncing back from post-2008 “downsizing.” You may not be comfortable doing the selling yourself. Yet your business model isn’t robust. Plus, it sounds pretty cool to be telling your colleagues and investors about your sales team. You hire a consultant to form your team, seek compensation strategies, markets and territories, and on launch day, everyone hits the streets (or the Internet). BOOM!
Where, oh where, is the revenue that your newly launched sales team is supposed to be accruing? Check with your business model first.
Entrepreneurships, startups, and even the re-launch of an existing company, require a sales model which is aligned with your current business model. Does your business model have the capacity and capability to fuel a mature sales model? Selling in this environment requires a different skill set than selling for a mature, legacy company with longevity in the marketplace and brand equity.
Your sales model must align with your business model. Did you come out of a corporate environment to head up your business? Then you more than likely you created a business model based on what you observed over your tenure with that large company. The structure and function of that business model works for stable legacy companies. That type of business model doesn’t necessary form the basis of an entrepreneurial, startup, or small business.
Entrepreneurships, startups, and re-launched small businesses are not miniature versions of large corporations. They are a completely different business species altogether. They require different business models.
When you hire consultants to help you create your sales team for your company, chances are that they came out of those legacy business models. These are highly successful consultants who have guided sales teams to success over the years. There is no reason for them, or you, to feel that your sales team will be any less successful than their track record indicates.
Let’s take a look at those legacy systems and corporate models. There usually is a CRM / in-bound leads identification and management software system or two involved. There are customer service folks to qualify leads and shunt them to the sales force. There is a recruiter who interviews and hires candidates for sales positions. There is a compensation strategy to create, performance measurement metrics to decide on, and, of course, money to fund everything. That’s before your sales team even hits the phones, email, meetings, appointments, you name it.
The upfront costs of creating, implementing and funding a sales team can become an enormous mouth for your company to feed, especially when your funds are tight. You will hear the phrase: “You have to spend money to make money,” which is true.
It’s a matter of how much money you reasonably can afford to pump into a nascent sales force in order to achieve a feasible return on investment, which may include repayment of existing debt service before profit.
When you couple this scenario with CEOs who are uncomfortable selling and are unable to articulate the value – let alone outcomes – of their venture to the consultant and sales team, you have a recipe for disappointment and unmet expectations. Your business model may be completely unaligned with your sales model.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? In many cases this lack of alignment between business and sales models creates a conceptually tangled ball of yarn that seems impossible to work your way out of. You can, though. The first step may involve admitting to yourself that your eyes were bigger than your stomach because you, as CEO, are uncomfortable assuming responsibility for the sales process.
Being the CEO of your company requires you to be on constant call when it comes to revenue generation. How are you planning on overcoming your own reluctance to sell so you can get to work untangling that ball of sales yard?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.