“We are looking for partner managers / business development / sales experts” is something I hear and read all the time. In job advertisements, you can see that the future employees will be given other tasks in addition to acquisition, which should make up for the fact that the salary does not correspond to the usual market salary for sales or business development employees or that the task could be perceived as unpleasant – in other words, it is “glossed over” in the job advertisement. The hope that hiring sales staff will solve all acquisition problems and that the founder will no longer have to deal with sales is often disappointed. There are several reasons for this:
- Sales or acquisition – whether it’s the acquisition of customers, partners, sponsors, investors or institutional funders – is always a lot of hard work. You have to communicate consistently and reliably, listen, understand, follow up, call, contact and unfortunately also expect a rejection every now and then. This can be inconvenient, more so for some, less so for others, so the temptation to deal with other issues is only human. This is at the expense of time for acquisition for the good cause.
- Social enterprises “sell” a story about how they want to make the world a better place. In other words, they are selling a “complex product” that needs to be explained and that is of different value from different perspectives in different moments and situations, depending on the person they are talking to. Often social entrepreneurs intuitively know how to argue differently with one person than with another, but this knowledge must first be transferred to the new employees. In addition, the founders in particular bring a lot of fire and authenticity to the argumentation for their good cause, which leads to them always being involved, especially in strategic projects.
- Acquiring business clients and partner organisations (or investors/funders) is one of the most important tasks of a social impact business in order to increase its own impact. Therefore, every founder should at least partially take care of the acquisition of large projects themselves. Even if you are lucky enough to have successful sales people, it is important to understand their work and the acquisition cycle and, above all, to learn every day in order to be able to constantly develop your own solution for clients or partners – this works especially well if you have direct contact with clients and partners, feel the hurdles first-hand and ensure continuous improvement of the process, the criteria and the tools to support the process.
Deshalb ist und bleibt Akquise ist Chef*innensache und kann nicht einfach komplett wegdelegiert werden. Ich gehe sogar noch einen Schritt weiter: Nicht nur im Sinne des New Work, der Holistic & Teal Organisations, sondern auch im ganz klassischen, alten Sinne: Jedes Mitglied eines Social Business sollte Kunden, Partner und Funder akquirieren und wissen, wie man dabei vorgeht! Everyone a Salesmaker!
- There is a fourth reason: hiring unsuitable candidates for the role. There are important warning signs for this important position in the organisation. For this I offer one of my “quick help modules“, but here is the most important thing in advance: a good sales team member must above all be able to ask good questions and listen well, must not be afraid to get a „no“ and must be an “opportunity thinker”. For social enterprises it is also very important that the person has internalised the principles of ethical sales.