It seems so easy… just hire a salesperson with lots of industry contacts and they’ll be able to leverage their relationships and open doors easily.  Get you into those companies you’ve been targeting but haven’t been able to gain any traction in.  After all, Sales is all about Relationships, isn’t it?

Not so fast.

Sales are about Relationships, yes, but in our fast-paced and rapidly changing business world ask yourself what is more compelling – someone who has past ‘connections’ (that may or may not be relevant and/or current), or someone who has the capacity to establish and develop new relationships?  The two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Usually, it is the less experienced Hiring Managers who look for a Rolodex / contact list of previous customers as they have not performed or had much direct exposure to a Sales role themselves.  But Sales is much, much more than just ‘glad-handing’.  Professional Strategic Sales involves using a proven Methodology such as Consultative Sales that provides the framework to navigate large, complex cycles with multiple stakeholders (please see my previous article “Welcome to the New World of Sales”,  A salesperson must be able to continually create new relationships across a Client’s organization.

Here are 3 Reasons why the Sales Person with all the Contacts may not automatically be the best person for the job; 

  1. Average Executive Tenure is Short– Today’s workplace is more strongly focused on short-term results than ever before, putting Chief Officers under increased pressure. An average tenure for a Chief Marketing Officer for example is 44 months, Chief Information Officers less than 5 years, and CEOs are not immune to shortened tenures: “Short-term CEO and Executives are here to stay.”

These roles are examples of Decision Makers, those who set strategic direction and goals for their companies.  Someone who made the decision last time on a Technology, Marketing, etc. solution will most likely not be the same person who will make that decision today.  This reality impacts the relevancy of a Rolodex and causes contact lists to become stale almost overnight.  The modern and more current ‘Rolodex’ of potential business contacts today are actually Social Media sites such as LinkedIn and for example.

  1. Can’t Keep Going Back to the Same Trough– Contacts and Relationships are very valuable, and people like to do business with those whom they trust. This is why Referrals, Case Studies, and References are so important and should be cultivated.

Revisiting the same trough again and again though, each time wearing a different hat, could put the entire relationship at risk.  It can be perceived to show a lack of integrity, especially if the product or solution is competitive with what was originally recommended and sold.  Buyers can end up experiencing ‘fatigue’ with the salesperson, which would reflect on your company.

  1. What happens when they run out of ‘friends’?– To me, this is the biggest reason to look beyond a rolodex. Maybe the Sales Person really does have 3 or 4 very good contacts, and maybe they really would qualify as ‘hot’ prospects.  But what happens after the sales to those Contacts are completed?

Where do they go now?  Do they know how to prospect and begin new relationships, or will they be looking for ‘hand-outs’?

A Sales Person who can demonstrate their learning agility and skill in New Business Development is far and away the better choice than the one with all the ‘industry contacts’.  A true Sales Professional will never exhaust their current contacts or run out of ‘friends’ as they are capable of opening up new doors and initiating new opportunities every day.

If you are unsure of how to assess potential Sales Candidates, outsourcing this function to a company that has broad experience in determining Sales Skillsets is a sound option to consider. We will identify the type of Sales expertise that you require and select the best candidate(s) to ensure their results will continue long after they run through all the cards in their Rolodex!


About the Author:

Martin Beauclair is an Entrepreneur, Business Leader, and Active Supporter of Start-up Communities.  For the past 20+ years, he has launched and managed numerous technology product offerings, serving as Sr. Vice-President of Sales & Business Development at IgeaCare Group of Companies, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at GlobeStar Systems, and Director of Sales & Marketing at Edwards Systems Technology (Now GE Security).

Today Martin heads up Access2Sales as CEO, and recently founded FalconRidge Trading, a related Strategic Sales company.

Martin is a certified ADMA (Accredited Professional Administrator), a member of the AMA (American Marketing Association) and both UPSA & CPSA Professional Sales Associations.  He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School (AMP), a bilingual BAA (Bachelor in Business Administration) from the University of Ottawa, and also holds an MBA in International Business Management from Laval University.

He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix, and is a self-proclaimed ‘life-long learner’.

But what ultimately drives him at the end of the day?  Simply,

“To Grow Companies by Creating and Leading High-Performance Sales Teams.”

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