As business owners, we all face obstacles at different times, no matter where you are in your business(es): start-up, the growth phase, or the relatively steady stage. It’s not the obstacles that we encounter, but how we think about them and determine the solutions to eliminate or reduce those obstacles. In this article, I briefly discuss a major obstacle I encountered. This may help you gain insights into your own issues and how to resolve them.
Purchased a company
Several years ago, I purchased a construction trade publication. I hired a new operations team and engaged freelance writers, and did but had one heckuva time with hiring sales people. Initially, the previous owner was the primary sales person. What I know now is that I should have shadowed him to determine how he did what he did and “operationalized” it. As more of an operations person, I wasn’t used to “intuitive” sales people who could not explain how they did what they did!
Figuring out the problem
I knew I was the problem. However, I didn’t figure it all out until I had hired and fired over 12 sales people! Each time, from my interaction with them and the exit interviews I gave, I became more knowledgeable of what was needed. I also became the head sales person after the previous owner, who had been the head sales person, left. (His consulting contract ended.) I was out making most of the sales needed to sustain the paper. In addition, I attended several sales training workshops. This was the process that I used to determine the solution to my/our sales problem.
What I learned
I realized sales people need weekly deliverables, marketing collateral, clearly defined targets, a list of prospects and niche(s) to pursue. To those with a sales operation background, this may sound obvious. To me, it was not. I thought sales people just went out there, worked some magic and sold. (This is simplistic, but captures the essence of my thoughts.) Once I developed all these materials and support information and, in the process, determined what kind of sales person was the best fit for our organization, sales began to really grow. But whew! Figuring it out over 10 months was a bear!