More Sales People = More Sales….. Right?

I’ve just finished one of the sorts of conversations that stop you dead in your tracks.

I had been discussing a particular challenge I come across a lot in companies of all sizes today. It usually starts with, “We just need more sales” and usually ends with…”So we’ve hired some more sales people“.

There are some standard variables to this such as “my sales people are rubbish” ….and then the stock answer “So we hired some more sales people“.

“My sales people are chasing too many low value deals”….”So we hired some more sales people”…etc.

The problem with this approach is that in time the new sales people end up in the same position as the old sales people who you will remember are “rubbish” and “chasing too many low value deals”.

Of course when you stand back and look at it, it’s pretty obvious that at least in some instances it may not be a sales problem at all. In fact in my experience it is invariably not wholly a sales problem.

Good sales people are smart, commercially savvy, driven, focused, hard-working, intelligent and successful.

They are not – magicians. No, honest, they’re not (not even if they tell you that they are).

No matter how smart, commercially savvy etc…they are they will need you to have done your thinking first if you want them to succeed. 

You will need to provide them with a compelling, robust, differentiated and competitive proposition and tell them what a good customer looks like and where they can find them. If and when you do that, they will turn on the magic. Until you do, they will be just as “rubbish” and “busy” as the old ones you’re so annoyed with.

So back to my conversation….it went like this….

ME: “So in order to make the step change in top line growth they’re looking for, what did they do?”

Consultant: “They went out and hired a load more sales people”.

ME: “What are these people going to sell and to whom?”.

Consultant: “They’re going to work on that”.

ME: “When?”

Consultant: “Well there’s nothing in the budget for that”

Me:”Right” “So when are they expecting to see a return for their investment in these new sales people?”

Consultant: “Well the pressure’s on from day one really”.

Me:”So the equation goes need more sales = buy more sales people?”

Consultant: “er..Yes. I guess that was it really”.

Me:”That sounds like an expensive and time-consuming way to lose money and market share”.

Consultant: “Yes. I told them that”. “They said they didn’t have any budget for getting their marketing planning in shape this quarter”.

Me: “Don’t tell me, they said they need to sell something first?!”.

Consultant: “Yep”.

Good Grief Charlie Brown.

FYI – If you get your marketing planning in place (your proposition, your target market, your differentiation, etc.) first. Then you can hire sales people and they should stand every chance of being successful. If you skip that pretty vital step…then all your sales people will fail and it will cost you a fortune.











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