Internet Radio Show | 21st Century Entrepreneur: A Discussion on Word of Mouth Marketing | Aired October 10, 2014 at 12 Noon

By Posted on October 6th, 2014 0 Comments

This Friday October 10, 2014, we’ll be airing another program of the “21st Century Entrepreneur” which is an Internet radio program aimed towards educating business owners and their advisors on how to make their businesses more successful and profitable. It is a show hosted by JC Maldonado who is the CEO of BizGro Partners, a Business Development Firm that helps small and midsize companies grow, expand, and transition. This week we will be interviewing Social Capital and Networking expert Cynthia Greenawalt from Seachange Networking. Cynthia is a graduate of Wharton School of Business and has 2 decades of experience coaching and consulting with business owners on how to use their “social capital” and business relationships in a manner that produces ongoing referral business. The topic we will be covering is how business owners can develop word of mouth marketing strategies to grow their business which can save the business owner money on marketing strategies and salespeople that cost money and that are not productive. Word of Mouth Marketing is a strategy that is overlooked and misunderstood by many business owners. Below is an article JC wrote on the state of salespeople in the market which gives the strategies we are going to cover on Friday some credence. Further, last week we aired a show discussing business partnerships. To hear a recorded version of the show click on http://www.talkingalternative.com/21CEpod.

WHY HIRING SALESPEOPLE HAS BECOME A LOSING PROPOSITION FOR SMALL & MIDSIZE COMPANIES?

Something very interesting has happened in the world of commerce in the last 5 years. Salespeople no longer work on straight commission. The days of “you eat what you kill” has vanished. Sales has become a profession and salespeople, especially effective ones, now demand thousands of dollars in salaries, draws, and benefits before bringing one dollar of revenue to the companies that hire them. This reality has put business owners in a peculiar position; they must now make a considerable investment and leap of faith to acquire customers through the use of salespeople, a method that can still have major positive impact on a company’s sales. This reality now requires entrepreneurs to be skilled in recruiting, developing, training, managing, and supporting salespeople. Failure to exercise such skill can result in huge monetary losses and wasted time.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS?

So you may ask: What happened to the good old days when salespeople worked on straight commission and had to prove to their employer that they were worthy of receiving compensation by bringing in new business and managing the relationships they bring to the table. Three things have happened:

First, families today must bring in a certain amount of income to survive and live fairly decently. For most families that live in major cities and have 2 or more children, a minimum gross income of $150,000 is required just to maintain afloat. Of course, if you are accustomed to a more lavish lifestyle, you may have to generate even more income. This is one of the reasons women today have entered the workplace in droves and produce income comparable to men. Hence, many qualified people in the workforce, even salespeople, must be able to bring in sources of immediate income into their households.

Second, the sales cycle in most industries today is a lot longer than years before. According to several recent studies on sales, it takes an average of 5 sales meetings and/or conference calls to consummate a sale in today’s B2B economic climate; in most cases these series of meetings can transpire over a 6 to 18 month time period. Simply put, waiting for commissions to come in is not an attractive proposition for even the most talented of salespeople who believe their initial efforts should result in compensation.

Third, Sales has become a profession; meaning competent salespeople today want to be compensated for their time like other professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and medical doctors. The competent ones know that finding a productive salesperson is not easy and believe the rules of supply and demand should work in their favor. Even universities have programs for students to major in sales, which further feeds into the notion of sales becoming a true profession.

As an entrepreneur, keep one thing in mind: If a salesperson is willing to work on straight commission for a long period of time, you may be looking at one of your future competitors. That means this individual is looking to take serious risks in time and money to achieve success. This is more along the lines of how a typical entrepreneur thinks which is different from how today’s sales professional sees the world.

IS HIRING SALESPEOPLE AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY?

The answer to this question will depend on the owner, the business and the industry. However, we are seeing that many business owners have failed to use salespeople effectively in developing new business. We have seen businesses spent enormous amounts of monetary and time resources hiring, recruiting, and managing salespeople with little success. In fact, many owners have simply given up on the notion of hiring salespeople.

WHY HAVE MANY BUSINESSES FAILED TO UTILIZE SALESPEOPLE EFFECTIVELY?

Many business owners hire salespeople with unrealistic expectations. They expect to hire a salesperson, pay him a draw or salary plus commissions and expect that salesperson to handle all aspects of the business’s sales and marketing process; they expect the salesperson to be the savior for the business, cold call, engage in other prospecting activities, network, manage his/her own leads, go on sales meetings, conduct conference calls, close the sale, and manage client relationships. Further, owners often do not offer marketing, training and administrative support to the salespeople they hire. Oftentimes, salespeople are good at closing the sale and building relationships, but most, even the best of them, are lousy at administrative and marketing functions. Further it is not atypical for a salesperson to despise and avoid cold calling and other prospecting related activity.

Other business people have not accepted the reality that for the most part, salespeople do not work on straight commission, and try to hire salespeople without any draw or salary compensation. What these owners quickly find out is that the salespeople that they hired  either leave because of delayed compensation due to today’s modern day sales cycle, or these salespeople don’t fully dedicate themselves to one business because they need to find other ways to make a living. This arrangement does not produce loyalty or consistency to the owner.

SO HOW DOES A SMALL OR MIDSIZE FIRM PROPERLY UTILIZE SALESPEOPLE?

There is no simple answer. One way to position yourself for success is to assembly line your selling process. One way to achieve this is to hire a team of people that handles different aspects of the selling process. For instance, hire one person to prospect, make cold calls, and qualify leads. Hire another person to manage and administer the leads, and use a salesperson to close business and build and manage key relationships with clients. Moreover, it is important to train your staff so that all members of the team work in unison. This approach may appear to be more costly initially, but it will position a business to receive more mileage from the implementation of their selling strategies. Putting your eggs in one basket is actually more costly if the salesperson that you hire to handle every aspect of the selling process fails to bring in business.

Another option is to outsource some of the sales and marketing functions to outside companies. If you consider the time it requires to manage and train a staff and the expenses associated with hiring people, which includes salaries, taxes, and benefits, you may be better off hiring professional help to execute your sales and marketing strategies. There are firms that provide telemarketing services, email marketing services, web marketing services as well as independent sales agencies that can be the source of new business.

In fact, BizGro Partners offers several programs that enable the business owner to outsource certain sales and marketing functions aimed towards generating sales leads, managing these same leads, and converting these leads into sales.

To learn more about our programs, feel free to contact us at 201-496-6931 or email us at askbgp@bizgropartners.com.

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