Sales

Where would you look for outside sales help?

Walter Jr. Creative Director, Visual Storyteller, Video Editor, Post Supervisor, Documentarian

July 14th, 2015

Been trying without luck to hire a new internal sales rep for our company and in the meantime, I keep getting bombarded with emails promising to "get you leads and meetings! just sign up for our XYZ service!"   Don't trust any of them quite honestly.

We're a video production company servicing both broadcast clients and corporate.  We've been trying to build back up our corporate pipeline focusing on training and marketing.   Growth potential is huge with our pedigree and history, but we could definitely use some help shaking the bushes and getting some new clients.   Any trusted third party sales help you can recommend?

Laurelle Johnson, MBA

July 15th, 2015

Hi Walter, Thank you for taking the time out to answer the questions. It is more important for you to know the answers than I. But I do know that when going after larger corporations, in spite of a great reputation, it can take over 6 -8 months. I work with my clients to use a strategic approach to gaining corp clients. It’s a whole different way of selling. I wish you good hunting on finding that right person. I will keep my ears out for you. Onwards and Upwards, laurelle Laurelle Johnson Strategies for Growth 818-512-6477 linkedin.com/in/laurellejohnson Twitter: @stratspecialist FaceTime: laurelle@laurellejohnson.com

Ivan Koon CEO at Dot Dot Inc.

July 17th, 2015

The most productive sales people I have met are those selling products that have strong market pull. If you are selling a proven cancer curing drug for all folks, anyone can be the best sales person for that drug. When you are inside an Apple Store, can you tell who are the sales people and who are customer support? Do their sales people have to "sell" or "qualify" or "move you through the funnel"? If you want to increase revenue or market share, the first thing to do (and never stop doing) is to create market pull.  For many small businesses, especially professional services business like the one in this thread, the founding teams are the best sales people.  Because they sell to people who know the founding members or their prospects already know they need the services and are looking for the best provider who they can trust and feel comfortable working with. The founding members, with their intimate knowledge of their professions and their love and pride of their work that easily come through in their conversations, their clients naturally will want to work with them.  This model is hard to scale, obviously, but not impossible to scale. What that means is that effective sales people cannot just be hired and go through some kind of sales training or pipeline creation workflows. They have to submerge into the "profession", be good at it, love it and they must love working with clients and show them how their business can be so much better when the magic dust of their profession is added.  While the work of hiring people and submerging them into the profession to produce client loving sales savvy individuals, the company must continue to work hard to drive up awareness of their unique offerings (brand, production quality, customer services, success references etc.) If executed well, and never blame lack of growth on non-productive sales people, you will see your business not only growing but you will not lose pricing power and you will have a very profitable business.  Good sailing.

Anonymous

July 16th, 2015

No.  Outsiders may generate leads but sales is something else entirely.  Stick with your intuition. Hire someone with a strong sales track record. Look further afield. I don't care if the sell Avon. Hire a great salesperson. 

Dan Callahan VP, Cloud Services at CGNET | I Build Businesses

July 20th, 2015

I get offers for lists of leads, appointment setting and the like every day.  I politely respond that we don't engage in lead-generation marketing efforts.  Why? Because the services we sell are not the kinds of things that someone would buy from a stranger after reading an email or taking a phone call.  I think the same would be true of a professional services firm.  We've focused our efforts on content marketing, and after 6-12 months we're beginning to see some results.  If we wanted to scale quickly we might be more inclined to look at lead generation, but first we'd have to rebuild the company to take advantage of a lead generation program.

Vishal Kapoor

July 14th, 2015

Hi Walter,

Don't look for any online wonder sales partners.

Set up your own process where you can outsource tele calling, setting appointments and a video call for demonstration of services.

Pay as monthly fee + commission on conversion.

Craig Conlee

July 14th, 2015

I would recommend to get a  franchise player. Third parties are just that, "third world, third wheels." I am assuming culture and brand is important for you and your team. Sales is the face of your firm and in a well thoughtful and ideal business model would incorporate marketing to listen to sales to make adjustments to their brand and go to market strategy. if sales is not an important arm of your strategy, then, I would just recommend not to move forward with outside sales. If it is, there needs to be (and I am only assuming), a very long term plan to onboard a quality field rep. In other words, this chapter is super important that will share your firm. Third parties will not. Do a quality search on LinkedIn. I have tons and I means tons of amazing recruiters. Ping me and I will help you out. 

Walter Jr. Creative Director, Visual Storyteller, Video Editor, Post Supervisor, Documentarian

July 15th, 2015

Thanks for the feedback guys.  Craig, we've actually done a pretty long search for inside sales representation here on LinkedIn but have not been able to come to terms with anyone.   You're absolutely correct in that sales is the face of our company and in our case, we're a very fun and creative group.  So we need someone who reflects that but can also actually bring in the sales.   In the past I've paid my sales folks pretty well with a decent commission but that didn't pan into work.   

This time, through recommendations of my business coach, we've cut the salary but dramatically raised the commission.   So the pressure is squarely on the sales rep.   Sell and you can easily clear six figures.   Don't sell and it's going to be tough to get by.    So far, nobody that we'd want representing the company has stood out.   That's why I asked about the third party companies as a fill in the gap while we continue our search.

Joe Walling Experienced software developer, software architect, owner of custom software development shop

July 15th, 2015

I'm in the same boat as Walter. I have hired several internal sales people over the past year. So far, I have been the only one that manages to sell anything and I don't consider myself a salesman. I want to stick to the tech side and running the business, and have a sales force (in or out) that handles all of the sales and marketing. I am at the point where I am afraid that any base I give would be a waste.

Are there any salespeople that will work purely based on performance for a really good payout or are they all looking to take the safe easy route? I'm willing to share in the rewards via strong commissions and/or equity, but am not sure the best way to find those that can actually perform. Any ideas or contacts would be appreciated. 


Laurelle Johnson, MBA

July 15th, 2015

Question: How much training is given the sales person on the product ,company, pricing etc.? How much debriefing is done at the end of each day or each week with that person to see what is going on with the calls and the client feedback? How much adjustment is made to accommodate a client request that may be a bit off the norm? Does the sales person have lee way to help close the deal?

Walter, how much lead info is supplied to this rep? Is it purely inside, sitting at desk, dialing for dollars? I know franchise players do that, but with what your company offers, a face to face interaction, initially , could be better. This is a high trust sale and nothing replaces personal interaction.

What worked for the company in it's early days. Could that formula be duplicated? What is the customer experience once a deal is signed? That is key to a sales person being able to sell again and again.

Joe Walling - There is something that you know and share with clients that your sales people are unable to duplicate.  If you can pinpoint that 'x' factor of yours (what you say, how you say it, etc.) you can plug that into the sales persons training then it could change.  If you think you are the only person who can close, and make it known, than sales people won't close.  It's a tricky dynamic for sure. 

I could write volumes but...


Walter Jr. Creative Director, Visual Storyteller, Video Editor, Post Supervisor, Documentarian

July 15th, 2015

Question: How much training is given the sales person on the product ,company, pricing etc.?
As much as they require. We're a small shop so the sales person has the opportunity to not only sit in and watch production as it happens, but to even participate to fully understand. The onething corporate clients especially don't understand is the time and effort required to create a quality product. So the sales person has my undivided attention and the support of the entire staff as much as they require. We develop marketingmaterials on the fly as required for sales pitches.

How much debriefing is done at the end of each day or each week with that person to see what is going on with the calls and the client feedback?
As much as needed, but no less than once per week and certainly after any major sales calls.

How much adjustment is made to accommodate a client request that may be a bit off the norm? Does the sales person have lee way to help close the deal?
As a video production company, everything we do is custom. We do not have any "cookie cutter" modules you can purchase. We listen closely tothe client, the sales person is instructed to ask a LOT of questions, and then we develop a custom proposal tailored specifically to the client and client requirements. Yes, the sales person has leeway to close the deal and they will know how far they can go without my approval.

Walter, how much lead info is supplied to this rep?
We can point the to specific industries and why we fit so well into them. We will provide as much lead information as we can, but they do have to build the pipeline. Unfortunatelythe last person I had in the position left a very dry pipeline by the time I letthem go. Ikept them on probably six months too long, but I really wanted to give them a chance to succeed.

Is it purely inside, sitting at desk, dialing for dollars?
Face to face is much preferred. We're a people company, folks really enjoyvisitingour facility. Our unofficial motto is "kick off your shoes and stay a while." It's a very low key facility that'ssupposed to make you feel comfortable when you enter. We work in a very high stress environment with extremely tight deadlines. So I made sure to build a facility the really represents who we are as people so the sales person has to really fit thatmold and you'll only see that in person. As for trust, I'm still a handshake kind of guy, if I say I'm going to do deliver, I'll deliver.

What worked for the company in it's early days. Could that formula be duplicated? What is the customer experience once a deal is signed?
In the early days it was just my name. I'm very well respected in the video production industry, have been a part of multiple Emmy and Peabody awards, I test equipment and software for a lot of companies and I consult with major networks and companies on production workflows and employee training. So I'm very well known and respected in the video production industry. But inthe corporate world, we're leaving a lot of dollars on the table and that's where we really want to concentrate with the sales team.

As for the client experience, it's 98% positive from all accounts. We have a great Testimonials Page on our sitethat's a good sampling of how we treat folks. Clients are generally repeat once they start out with us whether it's a mom and pop store or a major network. biscardicreative.com/who-we-are/wordonthestreet

Yes, the sales person needs to sell again and again which is something that they should be able to do given our background, quality and reputation. Thanks for your input.