Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago · 5 min. reading time · ~10 ·

Renée 🐝 blog
Questions to Help You Mind Your Business… Oh, those sales people

Questions to Help You Mind Your Business… Oh, those sales people

Graham Edwards
Graham Edwards is a seasoned sales and marketing leader with over 25 years in the biotech
industry. Graham is an accomplished leader and visionary with a reputation for effective
strategy, creative problem solving and execution. Well recognized for his ability to drive
growth, Graham brings a wealth of cross-functional skill sets in sales and marketing, strategic
g and execution, business development, process improvement and succession


Graham is especially passionate about working with start-ups but loves to drive results for any business in
need. Well known for his strategic excellence and problem solving, Graham's tendency toward creative
thinking allows him to develop some rather interesting and effective solutions for his clients.

Renée Cormier

Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée
Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing
— strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has
Ie leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing
4 © Kirategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of
experience and talent to her work.
Renée really shines in communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive
communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong
business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely
considered an important resource for her clients.

This is the answer to the fourth question in a ten question collaborative series being posted by Renée Cormier and Graham Edwards. To see the list of original questions, check this link. If you would like to catch up, here are the answers to Question 1Question 2 and Question 3.

Please feel free to contribute with comments and shares. If you have any questions of your own, we’d love you to share them with us.


Question #4

Should I hire a salesperson?

I often come across small business people who hate being their own sales person. That always seems ludicrous to me, but on another level, I do understand it. Sales can seem tedious when all you really want to do is deliver your product or service, but you can’t have one without the other. Selling needs a product and a product needs to be sold.

There's no lotion or potion that will make sales faster and easier for you - unless your potion is hard work.          - Jeffrey Gitomer

So how do you gauge when it is time to hire someone to help you out?

You have more leads than your current sales team (or you, personally) can manage.

There is a large segment of the market you are not able to reach due to the lack of manpower.

You are currently generating enough revenue to pay a reasonable base salary to a qualified sales person.

Now the last point is really important. 100 % commission jobs are not realistic for most sales people, because most people have an immediate need to eat and pay the bills. This type of compensation system becomes especially ridiculous if you can’t even provide qualified leads to the salesperson. If your business model is such that you expect people to work this way, then you will have a problem keeping sales people. Also, bear in mind that a company that does not respect the time and basic survival needs of their employees puts itself in jeopardy. Nothing is worse for your business than desperate, resentful employees. Consider the value of investing in the well-being of your staff by actually paying them fairly and setting them up for success. That’s an investment that pays dividends.

Speaking of setting your sales people up for success, make sure you don’t put the cart before the horse and just hire people without giving them the resources they need to be successful. You will need to have both a marketing plan and a system in place to generate leads and help you manage the pipeline. Your systems are important. Having said that, leads are only part of the equation. Sales people need tools like sales decks, and samples to help them guide conversations and close deals. They may also need some training. You don’t want your leads to walk over to your competitor’s business because your team didn’t have the wherewithal to service their needs.

These days, it seems everyone in business wants more for less. Your business is nothing without an effective marketing strategy and strong sales people to maximize your results. A lot of small business people think it is okay to hire their 18 year old niece to manage their social media because “kids are all on social media these days”. Here’s a news flash for you. Knowing how to use a social media platform and knowing how to maximize your content for business purposes are two very different things. Getting a kid to do your social media marketing because he knows how to use Instagram is as logical as getting a kid to write your financial plan because he took math in high school. Give your head a shake. Do you want to make money or waste money?

So let’s go back to the original question of whether or not you should hire a salesperson. The answer is simple. Don’t hire anyone unless and until you are in a position to effectively support their efforts and help them ride out the natural length of your sales cycle.


Question #4:  Should I hire a salesperson?

Why at any level would you want to hire a sales person, let alone a team of them? They are costly, high maintenance, hard to keep track of, and depending on who you ask, come with a questionable ROI — spend your money on marketing people! Wait… did I actually say that? I need to use my inside voice more.

To get to the heart of this question it should be made clear that everyone is a salesperson — we are always selling ourselves in that job interview, selling that great idea to investors, selling friends on the art gallery instead of the concert, selling the idea of a new house to your spouse, or even sometimes selling a product or service for a commission cheque. Title or no title, we are all sales people; it is simply a matter of how much formal training you have received.

You simply should hire a salesperson any time you hire someone —

· Someone who effectively communicates

· Someone who listens effectively

· Someone who is able to ask good questions to understand a situation

· Someone who is able to bring solutions to problems

· Someone who is analytical and a critical thinker

· Someone who is customer centric

· Someone who is trustworthy

This is where Renée would push me off my “philosophical hobby horse” and suggest I actually answer the question — so with her in mind, here goes.

I think it is important to mention right away that there is a “less than professional” image that still clings to the word “sales” (echoes of the questionable door to door salesman, I suppose). So much so, even true sales professionals refer to themselves as advisors, consultants, account managers, influencers — almost anything so they do not have to use the word sales in their title. Although, I do appreciate that there may be a customer perception that necessitates the avoidance of the word, it should be made clear that if your role has a financial expectation (that impacts part or all of your compensation) you are in “sales”. And quite frankly, if you are able to satisfy a customer’s need (or solve a problem) they really don’t care what your title is.

To the question of whether you should hire a sales person or not, it is really dependent on a number of factors and considerations:

· How complicated is your product or service?

· The price and value proposition of your product?

· What is your business model and who is your customer (an end user, a business, a government)?

· What is your marketing budget (because the sales channel is part of the marketing mix)

· Can you get at least a 15x return (on gross profit) if you hire a sales person? *

· Et cetera…

A sales person can do four things that are holistically unique to the function, and part of the consideration when thinking of your needs for the business:

1. They can deliver a complex product and value proposition message.

2. They can build deep customer relationships.

3. They can offer real time customer, competitive and market information.

4. They bring “forecastable” revenue commitments.

Some will argue that other functions can also do this, and I agree there are a number of groups that actively do the first two, and maybe even some who can do the third, but only sales can do all four (as well as scale).

Truly the biggest consideration to the question is, “Are you prepared to take on the leadership and management to ensure the person (the team and sales channel) is successful?” The cost of not doing it right is high — not only in hard cost, but also regarding reputation, customer perception, and competitive advantage. You need to be prepared to build a structure, the leadership, and operating mechanisms to satisfy the following eight sales competencies (and the behaviors that demonstrate them) within the organization.


Territory and customer management

Selling skills and knowledge

Product knowledge

System knowledge

Business Cadence

Business Acumen

Financial Performance

It is with these eight competencies that you increase the probability of creating a successful sales channel and the people within it — and as I mentioned, you will develop transferable skills that can used to support the growth of the broader business.

I think the better question to ask is, “Are you ready to hire a sales person?”


* People may not agree with this ROI for a sales person, and I would like to get other people’s perspectives but the spirit of this point is that a salesperson is a profit center and there is an expectation for incremental increases on the top and bottom line.


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don kerr

5 years ago #12

Chuck Bartok's comment.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #11

Great point, Chuck!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #10

Oh! Quand tu parles français...

don kerr

5 years ago #9

Graham\ud83d\udc1d Edwards D'accord!

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #8

Hi Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier... great discussion; one of the reasons that I like beBee so much. Don, I think your two examples call out an important couple of points — not all businesses need to (or can) build out the Sales Channel and it's important to understand the customers decision making process. I think we saw that in your first example... the type of product/service you sell, the customer expectations and how they purchase need to come into play... it sounds like in reality the principles were the ones closing the sale and unfortunately it was something that just could not be "scaled" into a traditional sales team (or at least not in a profitable way).

don kerr

5 years ago #7

Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier I think you're mostly right and my father did nail all four of your requirements. The only issue I have regarding the design industry experience is that #1 is a real challenge for the sales team as the prospects want to deal directly with the principals at all points in the process.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #6

Interesting Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr. My thinking is if your sales people can't sell your product, then they are seriously lacking in qualified leads, training and or incentives. Sales can be a pretty tough gig, but you only need sales people if you can't physically follow up on your leads. If you need a lead generator, then get one. If you need capable people to get deeper into your market, you had better be prepared to: 1. show them what works in your industry. 2. give them the resources to be successful 3. give performance based incentives 4. treat them like they matter as people. I don't know everything your father did, but it sounds like he definitely got 3 and 4 down.

don kerr

5 years ago #5

Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier And, now to provide a counterpoint to my last comment - my father founded and operated his own company for decades. He was a distributor of industrial tools and related products throughout North America. He started very small with one simple idea - he would only take on products for which he could secure the North American patent rights. This was his way of selecting top grade product and ensuring some protection from competition. Eventually he grew the business and began to build a sales team. His sales team in North America grew to about 10 people and his business enjoyed profitable growth. His secret was this - each of his sales people had the opportunity to participate in the ownership of the business upon achieving certain targets. This proved to motivate each individual and relieved my father of much of the motivation management job as the team urged each other on for the greater good. As the business grew so did their ownership and profit sharing. One other point, my father was rigorous in his recruitment and always insisted upon having at least one interview at the prospective employee's home with the spouse present. He wanted to get a good sense of the character of each individual and how their home life reflected the support he or she would receive.

don kerr

5 years ago #4

Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier I am sure many will find this most insightful. Here's part of the challenge I have witnessed - at least in my area of business which has for years been designed communication. I worked with and managed four design firms. At each one we hired sales people - even with the acknowledgement that 95% of our business was secured through the professional networks of the business principals. At each one the sales team produced diddly squat. In fact, at one point I was managing director of one of North America's largest design firms (billings in excess of $20MM/year). The sales team of four required an annual investment of $300K. In my second to last year at the firm, while doing the annual budget, I calculated that this team produced sales of exactly $85K. The new business target was $1MM and we exceeded that target by $200K. To repeat - we achieved a new business target of $1.2MM and our $300K sales team accounted for $85K of that total. Even a simpleton can see that the math doesn't make sense. While the numbers were different at the other three firms the results were consistent. In business where the major differentiation is the reputation and skill of the principals it is extraordinarily difficult to find sales people with even marginal skill in effectively communicating the company's capabilities. Prospects demand to deal with the principals and that is how we moved forward. In each case we disbanded the sales team and experienced no loss in opportunity and achieved a better financial result.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #3

Thank for sharing Graham\ud83d\udc1d Edwards!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #2

Thank you for sharing, Javier \ud83d\udc1d beBee. :)

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