Promote from Within?
Where do you get your sales people? Have you ever given any thought to looking at talent you already have? Customer Service Reps and Estimators are two areas that may just have some talent ready for outside sales.
About 4 years ago, the mid-sized digital shop that I worked for hired a young woman to work in quality control. She had a degree in print management. (That’s a major? Yes it is!)
From the moment I met her, I knew she was cut out for different challenges than wrapping packages and counting pieces. Don’t get me wrong — that is an incredibly important job with an exacting skill set. But you know what I mean. She had charisma, wit and great communication skills. I knew immediately that she would be great as a CSR.
Soon enough, she was working back in sales as a CSR, and then as an estimator also. And she was fabulous. Great with customers on the phone, could juggle multiple tasks, and truly cared about the customers. She was gold to me — we worked very closely together for quite a while.
I left that job, and then she decided to relocate to another city. She again found work as a CSR. We kept in touch and I challenged her to get into sales. She was understandably afraid and had many reservations.
Another relocation for her and she was working catering and bartending gigs until “something better” came along. It turned out one of her regulars at the bar owned a franchise print shop. As they got to know each other and he realized what she was capable of, he offered her a job. Part time, so she could keep her gigs that were paying the rent.
So now she is doing pure outside sales. And she’s scared. She has never had to go out and make it rain before. Incidentally, she reads this website’s blogs for inspiration on a regular basis. But what else does her boss do for her to ensure that she is successful, and maybe one day be his top seller?
He provides training. He pays for her to attend webinars. He invests in her development. He is not afraid to make an investment in her, because he understands that even if you are a born salesperson, there are basic skills that you can learn from professionals. And he knows he will make that investment back in her sales, as well as in her loyalty to him.
He provides her with a mentor. He is a skilled salesperson himself, so when she lands opportunities that she sees as being large, he goes along with her on appointments and helps her close the deals. And each time he does, she learns something new. They both know that eventually she will be able to fly solo, but until then, they both believe that two heads are better than one.
He sets challenging but realistic goals for her. No one wants to be set up to fail, so while her goals are a stretch, she knows she’ll be able to reach and exceed them with some hard work, luck and great skills and coaching.
Long story short, take a look inside your organization and see if there are some folks there worth making an investment in. Because we all know they might take a little more time and energy to bring around, but I can’t name one print shop that hasn’t been burned by hiring some hot-shot print rep who claimed to have a million dollar book of business. Invest in someone you already know — you may just have a diamond in the rough!