Big visionaries behind small businesses share their insights and experiences in this series. Learn how to share your brand story here.
Just hire the very best sales people in the world, arm them with something easy to sell and watch the money roll in. So recommends action Jack Barker, CEO at Pied Piper courtesy of my current HBO fav Silicon Valley. I hope that his portrayal of a tech CEO is just some tongue in cheek amalgamation of the worst parts of people, but I fear that it's not! I find myself grappling with this as a small business owner. For the last five years, we have focused our efforts on a specific customer segment delivering what I've always hoped was a high value service. We didn't have a salesperson - outside of me because really that's what I seemed to be selling - myself and the skillful services of the creative partners that I work with. But I've come to a point where I'm at a crossroads or a plateau or maybe both. For the last three years we have hit the same sales number and have been comfortable with that (admittedly maybe complacent). But this year, things are different. The work hasn't been coming to us as easily as it has in the past. A couple of clients have been bought by other larger firms, senior management has changed hands at others and we don't have the same relationships that we used to.
So we've been going through a little bit of a positioning exercise. And I feel like I'm the numbers tell me that I'm supposed to toss the baby out with the bath water. If I look at our competition and other more successful companies as my benchmarks, it looks like the real money lies elsewhere - not with my specialized client segment. I also look at the new agencies that our client teams are now working with and they don't technically specialize in my client segment. So where I thought we had carved out a unique space and had created something that was meaningful, maybe specialization doesn't really matter. Maybe our clients don't want to change the world with their products. Maybe our clients just want someone to sell them a silver box with a pretty logo on it.
And so my struggle is, do I try to hire a sales person to sell a new bigger pool of potential clients a pretty box so that we can get invited to the party to play? Is a sales pitch just the cover letter to get someone to read your resume which is just the foot in the door to the interview?
Or do I stick to what's worked before but doesn't seem to be working right this minute?