Okay, not your whole sales team, but you’ll see my point.
What Not to Do
A common thought that’s been in my head recently is the effectiveness of the old-school style of sales tactics. Think this guy:
He sits at his desk and calls people while they’re having dinner, and tries to sell them something for which they have no need. The idea behind this tactic (that I believe/hope is all but obsolete) is that if a team of 10 people call 100 people a day, that’s 40,000 potential customers every month. Let’s say 1% of these people are at least slightly interested, and 1% of those interested actually buy, that’s 4 sales a month. If you’re selling big-ticket products (life insurance, for example), that can more than pay for the work required.
What it fails to take into account is the 39,996 people whose time you waste, every month. This is Excellence Waste to a T.
It’s wasted effort on the company’s end and is a short term strategy. The salesperson will eventually run out of good leads, the company’s employee turnover is going to be horrible, and the employees that do stay will only go crazy with their quotas and lack of meaningful work.
What To Do
If you think about it, these “insurance salesmen” should only have to work a couple months and they’d be set. If you sell 15 life insurance plans, you should have consistent income for years and years. Well, you wont, because here’s another key flaw in this plan:
Because the leads are not pre-qualified, you’ll lose most or all of them due to high attrition. These people realize after a couple months or years that they don’t want this product. Maybe they were approached at an opportune time and decided to buy, but they are not going to be life-long customers. In the short term, it works, but long term, what’s more valuable? 40,000 unqualified leads that turn into 4 customers that last 1-3 years, or 1,000 highly-researched, highly-qualified leads that produce 1 customer for life?
A really good example of this is a favorite local business of mine, the Triangle Rock Club. They don’t need sales people, and the only reason they ever lose members is if the person moves away. They built something so awesome that people come to them and never leave.
Instead of sales people, the TRC has managers devoted to different parts of the business. One of them is John Cosgrove, who is the “Membership Manager”. His entire job is to make sure the current members are happy. With an amazing product and some attention given to your current customers, you’ll be set for life.
Okay, Don’t Fire the Whole Sales Team
Let’s go back to the title. Obviously, you will need some sales people, especially when you’re just getting started. My suggestion is to not be the traditional “sales dude (or dudette)”, pushing products as fast as possible and hoping for a couple closes. If you’re going to sell something, research your customer and only talk to those who will be brand champions for you. These customers will snowball with good experiences and referrals. Eventually, you won’t need a sales team at all, because customers will come to you.
Simple enough, I think. Once again, I could go on, but I’ll stop there. If there’s enough interest later on, I can flesh these out with more complicated conclusions.
Until then, this concludes part 3 of “Idealistic Business Ethics Rants” by Lee Kennedy.
Would love to hear your comments/concerns, no matter how big or small they are! Have you had any experience with either kind of businessman (either the “push” or the “pull” kind)?
Thanks for reading.