The “S-Myth”

The cover story from June’s issue of Sales and Marketing Management magazine is making me feel uneasy (a paid subscription is needed to access this article). It’s not so much the explicit subject of the article – which is about hiring – but the implicit idea that companies should only be looking for sales stars – the article is entitled “Star Search”.

I believe there is a “sales star myth” in existence…It seems to be a common perception in the technology industry that sales managers and CEO’s should only be trying to find “sales stars” or “top guns” to work in their sales force.

Companies are spending months on the hiring process and then frequently experiencing huge disappointment with their eventual hire(s).  Frequently turning around and firing these same people within a year.

I am not that surprised.  Having met hundreds of sales people in the technology industry, I can honestly count on one hand the people who have struck me as “stars”.

So what’s the solution?

I suggest VP’s and CEO’s start thinking more realistically about sales people.  Sales is a job just like any other (I like to say just like accounting!)  Selling is a process. 

In his classic book the “E-Myth” Michael Gerber shows entrepreneurs that they need to break their businesses down into documented business processes so that they can be run by people other than the entrepreneurs themselves. 

Sales managers and CEO’s need to start thinking this way. The upshot of Michael Gerber’s system is that you can staff your business with “ordinary people” who run the great system you developed.  The same is true in sales.

So think about developing sales processes for your firm…You won’t have to spend all your time searching for mythical “sales stars”; you will greatly reduce staff turnover; and you may dramatically grow revenue as well!

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