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The $100k Mistake

Posted by Damian Thompson on 2019.08.06


burning_money-1There are no shortcuts in sales.

Time and time again, I see founders and entrepreneurs race to get enough cash to hire a salesperson, so they don’t have to deal with sales.

They think some unicorn with all-star credentials can come in and fix sales for their business. 

They go to bed at night dreaming of the magical ways this savior will swoop in to build their sales system, bring in revenue and solve all their problems.

Sorry to burst your bubble - this dream turns into a nightmare real fast.

Bringing in a salesperson too quickly is what I call ‘the $100k mistake’.

Let’s explore some of the reasons why you shouldn’t outsource sales too early in your business' development and how to approach this problem in a better way.

You Need to be Involved in Building Your Sales Process

You can’t outsource something that is a core part of your business.

Your knowledge and skills in your industry of choice are what drove you to start a business in the first place.

Customers come to you for your expertise and this expertise needs to live within your selling system.

You understand your market.

You understand your priorities.

And if you bring in a salesperson without putting that understanding into a clear sales process, they’re destined to fail. 

Sure, your new salesman might have worked with similar businesses within your market, but did they build the sales system from the ground up?

Or did they help drive sales within an already established sales system?

It’s going to be the latter 99 times out of 100.

Think about it - if your salesperson was capable of building an effective sales system, they would be an entrepreneur with their own business. 

But they’re not, they’re people who've specialized in making sales.

A salesperson can only be effective within a sales system that has your knowledge about your market and your customers woven into it.

You need to be actively involved in the process.

You Can’t Manage a Sales Team if You Can’t Manage Sales Yourself

Bill Belichick, the greatest football coach of all time, isn’t out on the field throwing blocks.

But he understands each position’s job even better than his players.

With this knowledge, he can effectively manage his team.

Without this knowledge, all would go to shit.

The same rules apply to managing a sales team.

If you haven’t put in the time to develop your selling system, and to know your market inside and out, how are you supposed to manage a sales team?

When your sales people figure out that you’re clueless about sales, a few things will happen:

  • Some will leave
  • Some will slack off
  • And some will slack off until they're ready to leave

And all will be sucking money from your business without delivering results.

Can you blame them though?

Salespeople expect a leader, or at the very least a boss who understands what’s going on. The fault is on you for not putting in the necessary work to understand and build a proper sales system.

You Won’t Know How To Gauge Success

If you haven’t taken the time to understand your sales process, there’s no way to tell if your new salesperson is doing any good.

When a salesperson comes onboard, it takes a while to figure out if what they’re doing is working or not.

What tends to happen is you spend 90 days on onboarding and planning. 

Then it takes another 90 days to see what they can really do. No sense judging their performance before they’re up to speed, right? .

But that whole time, you’re paying a hefty salary with little to show for it.

Since you haven’t done sales long enough yourself, you don’t know if the lack of results are due to the salesperson, your market, your business, or yourself.

So maybe you give them another 90 days, and hey, maybe they brought in a couple good accounts and just need more time. 

On and on and on...

You need at least enough competency to evaluate their performance (and avoid being fed bullshit that costs you a ton of money…)

You’re much better off spending this time and money working with an expert who understands your market, who can help you figure out what your market wants, and what makes them buy. 

This way, you’re required to put in the work to build an effective sales system before you hire.

This way, you know your performance is the standard that the salespeople are expected to beat. 

Salespeople Aren’t as Committed to Your Business as You Are

You’re the one with skin in the game, not your salesperson.

They don’t share the same vision or investment, and as long as they’re getting paid, many are happy to just do what it takes to get by, and none of them are losing sleep about the longterm health of the business. 

A lot of founders think they can de-risk the situation by hiring commission-only salespeople.

That is a dead end.

No one who is willing to accept your shitty offer and lofty expectations is going to come onboard and save your business.  

When they realize that you don’t care enough to pay them and provide a stable foundation, they’re not going to be more any invested in you than you are in them.

By not setting your sales reps up for success, you’re telling them “sales isn't a priority” and "we don't know what we're doing." 

Furthermore, no decent salesperson isn’t going to jump at the opportunity to save your ass just because you don’t like sales and have a nonexistent selling system. 

Trust me, the pros hate that even more than you do, and they have options. 

How to Avoid the $100k Mistake

The all too common mentality of “I’m going to hire some salespeople who will bring magic revenue to my business” needs to take a hike.

The people who see success are the ones who take their knowledge and skills and apply them to a sales system that works for their market.

They put in the work to understand their customers and what actually makes them buy. They take what they’ve discovered and learn how to build it into a selling system that turns strangers into prospects, and prospects into customers. 

It’s not always fun, and it takes a bit of effort, but at least you’re not copping out and trying to hand your responsibility off to someone else.

By working through your sales process, you will understand that sales comes down to problem solving. You have to learn why people buy and what they buy it in your market.

You’ll miss out on all this vital knowledge and insight if you outsource your sales in the early stages of your business.

You’ll also be kicking yourself for wasting a tremendous amount of money on a salesperson who could leave you worse off than you were before.

You could have been leveling up and gaining real insight into your sales system instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole.

Learn from those who have made this mistake many times before. 

If it’s too late and you’ve already made the $100k mistake, then it's doubly important you realize this is the time to rethink sales and start doing the work needed to get back on track.

If you’re ready to truly understand your sales system and receive the right guidance to fix it, set up a call to see if we can help. 

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