This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).
From Chapter 1 – Book of business / connections
Somewhat related to industry knowledge is the book of business or connections that a prospective salesperson could bring to the job. Here, too, is a double-edged sword.
Let’s take what looks like the best-case scenario ─ your sales candidate is local, from your industry and brings a book of business from a competitor, ready to plug into your revenue stream. The obvious question has to be: What are the chances that your company could be on the other side of this equation in a short period of time?
Great companies build relationships with their clients as a function of their brand. Not all companies are great in this way. If your business tends to have salesperson-focused client relationships, be careful here!
The other question to ask of the salesperson who tells you about his or her “big book” is the reason for leaving the previous company? If things were going well on the client side, what did go wrong? Having a long list of names or a large number of connections on a social media network is not the same as having a big book of business. Questioning your sales candidate’s former company about sales ranking might be very illustrative. You may even ask for letters of recommendation from some of the clients in this alleged big book of business. The salesperson may not want to let the people in his book know of his or her departure from a company, but this shouldn’t prevent a request for a general letter of recommendation. If the book of business has any value at all, then getting five such letters out of people in this book that the salesperson can choose should not be a problem. If it is, then question the value of the book and the integrity of the salesperson.
Do also note that there may be legal issues with the big book as well. Recent court cases have explored the question of who owns the connections on social networking sites used for business. The argument has been made that the employer may have some rights here if the connections were made by an individual while on company time. Many companies also require a non-compete clause in their contracts, curtailing a salesperson’s ability to sell in the same industry and to the same clients for some period of time after leaving a company.
However you slice it, the “big book of business” looks great on the surface, but you will have to dig a bit deeper and from a few different directions to ensure that it is as good as it may appear at first glance.
Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)
So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.
If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:
The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.
Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.
The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.
If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.
Here’s to your success!