Why Your Good Salespeople Will Keep You From Having a Great Sales Team
I recently worked with my son-in-law to help build a block retaining wall around his flower bed. Our plan was to start early in the morning and be finished by lunch so that we could spend the afternoon with our families. We did some research online and learned how to build the best wall that would withstand the test of time and not crumble from the force of heavy dirt that we would later dump into our new flower bed. It was clear from our research that a strong foundation was the secret to our wall standing up to the forces of nature.
After we had been working for two hours, it was evident that this was an all-day project, and we wouldn’t finish by lunch. Because we had what we considered more important things to do in the afternoon, we paused from our work and had a conversation about how we might cut some corners and achieve the same strong foundation without having to spend all day long on such a small project.
As we were pondering which corners to cut, we noticed the neighbor’s wall across the street, and how it was uneven and bulging at the corners. While looking at the neighbor’s wall, we noticed that the first row of blocks were uneven. As they continued to stack additional rows of blocks on top of this uneven foundation, each successive layer of block became more and more uneven, so that by the time they reached their final row of rocks, their initial bad decision had compounded into a problem that could only be fixed by tearing down the entire wall and starting over.
Obviously they decided to be content with a wall that we considered to be a mess. It was at that point that we decided that in order to avoid the same problem, we would stick to the plan of building a strong foundation, even though we had to give up time with our families.
This story reminds me of Jim Collins’ statement in his book, Good to Great, that “Good is the enemy of great”.
My son-in-law and I could have built a good wall in less time and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying something that, at the time, we considered to be more fun than stacking blocks around the flower bed. We could have even chosen to be satisfied with a good wall rather than putting in the extra time to build a great wall. Now that we’ve seen how much better the great wall remains level, and how much appeal it has provided to the overall look of the house, we’re glad that we invested the extra time.
Are you lowering your standards?
I’ve had many conversations with sales managers who are recruiting salespeople where they’ll tell me about their frustration with all the time they’ve spent trying to find the right candidate, going through the lengthy interview process, and all the reasons why they can’t find good salespeople. During these conversations, they’re trying to justify why they should lower their standards so that they can get the sales position filled and get back to other important task of running their business. It’s at this point that I share with them what Jim Collins’ said, “Good is the enemy of great.”
If we give into the temptation of hiring a good salesperson, we’ll stop looking for the great salesperson.
Once the sales position is filled, we go back to the grind of working hard, running our business and dealing with the urgent. Once we get back on the treadmill, our search for that great salesperson stops.
If you give in to the temptation of not building a strong foundation where you put in the time to make sure that you have great salespeople, as you move forward and try to grow your business, your problems will begin to compound. Just like in my previous example of building a wall where your foundation is weak and your first row of rocks are uneven, those uneven rocks compound as you continue to lay additional rows of blocks on top of your weak, uneven foundation.
When you try to build a strong business with only good salespeople, your business challenges begin to compound, and you will never reach that point of greatness.
So put in the time to find the great salespeople. Put in the time to measure every candidate against the perfect salesperson so that you recruit the best and build a strong foundation. Then, when you step back on the treadmill of running the day-to-day operations of your business, your great sales team will help you build a business that will withstand the test of time and all the challenges the marketplace will throw at you.