Author Archive

Big Whale Accounts Are Great, But Developing Relationships with Referral Sources Can pay the Bills
March 7, 2011

When you work in sales one of your primary goals is to get big accounts and yearly contracts: “the big whale accounts.” However, it is also important to keep an eye open for smaller, regular, everyday opportunities because many times these are the ones that pay the bills.

While working as part of Randolph Sterling’s outsourced inside sales team for a plumbing company, I was having a slow day searching for prospects in all the usual places one would think of for that industry. But then I came up with this idea of calling insurance offices and trying to get our client’s number and information on their recommended vendor lists.

At first, I wasn’t even sure insurance offices kept such lists, so I called my own insurance company, asking for a referral for plumbing companies, just to see how it worked, or if they even gave referrals. Sure enough, they did. While on the phone, I asked to see how they got those numbers and why they recommended them. Most of them came through referrals and good customer feedback. They then even offered to send me an email with a list of good plumbing companies in my area.

The next step was to begin working to get our client onto the referral lists of the insurance offices in their area. Now, no, getting our client onto these lists is admittedly not the same as winning the big account or yearly contract, but when you do work that people need to have done every day, you cannot deny the value of having your name and contact information being given out by the those first contacted by the people who need your help. These insurance agents get to provide an even better service for their clients by researching and recommending service providers, thus differentiating them from their competitors who don’t do more than just collect premiums every year. Our client gets another sales team (in addition to us, of course) who is keeping their name top of mind when people need them.

It may not be “the big whale account,” but developing relationships with strong referral sources can definitely positively assist your bottom line.


6 Lessons in Sales and Executive Leadership from the World of Retained Search, From Special Guest Blogger Russ Riendeau
January 8, 2011

Russ Riendeau

Our colleague and friend, Russ Riendeau from East Wing Search Group has helped us with an article as our “guest blogger.” I hope you enjoy it and if any of our loyal readers would like to become a “guest blogger,” please let us know as we are always interested in content that will help our clients.

Russell Riendeau, PhD– I do retained search, specializing in sales and executive leadership. Recently I had a couple of experiences with prospects that reinforced several crucial lessons I hope that anyone running a small or midsized business will find beneficial.  So, here we go:

Scene I: A CFO calls to discuss hiring me to find a sales professional for their company. He sends me the job profile and incentive program for me to review, which I do before sending it back to him along with my insights and some data, noting some real challenges in his documents that will make it tough to find the talent he needs. He pushes me to meet with him and tell him what’s wrong with their profile and comps. I suggest some ideas and remind him that I’m paid to deliver the rest of what he’s asking for, and that I’d be happy to go into it in further detail once he retains me.

“Nope, not yet,” he says. He wants more proof, and tells me he feels he’s getting the hard sell from me. I don’t feel that way, so I sit on the email a few days before responding.

Scene II: A little later a president and Vistage member of a different company calls me via a referral. He needs a new VP of Sales. I share my insights, data, methodology, etc. He likes what I have to offer ands agrees to retain me on the spot. Great! So I send an invoice for over $10,000 to begin the search. We meet in a week to design and update new specs to fit the new world at work. It will be a successful project, no doubt.

Scene III: I email back the first CFO and share the story with him from “Scene II.” I suggested that, based on my experience, it’s better that I not work with him, as he’s too skeptical to embrace my ideas. I tell him I understand and respect his views. I was nice, professional, firm and tried not to sound elitist. My intention was genuine.

I’m waiting to hear his reply today.

Now there were six lessons reinforced, as I see them right now:

  1. Missionaries don’t get paid well. Work with companies that believe in the product or service you provide. Then, do it better or different in some way.
  2. Referrals are more profitable than prospecting. If you give value to your current clients, they’ll do the prospecting and promotions for you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a doubter. Tell them you are walking away. When they come back begging to work with you, you will be in control.
  4. Have good data and documents to shore up every statement you make. Opinions aren’t valid without data of proof.
  5. It’s not the price. It’s their lack of perception of your value, and it’s your duty to point out the real costs they’ll incur if they don’t use your services.
  6. It’s really fun and empowering to say NO to working with someone that you can feel will be a struggle. It boosts self-confidence and gives you the courage to believe in yourself and abilities.

A New Season Is Almost Upon Us
August 25, 2010

A new season is almost upon us: the heat of summer fades into the glory of fall, baseball yields to the dominance of football, and for me personally- new and exciting opportunities are on the horizon! Perhaps this can be a time of change for you, too.

All too often in sales, orany job for that matter, we are easily consumed by the routine and mundane. Not only does this stifle creativity, but productivity as well. Wondering how to inspire, innovate, and motivate yourself?  Start with a new perspective and begin a new season!

Here are three ways to weather these times with thoughtful initiatives:

  1. Get out of the box (or cube) and talk with others! Identify people who have found success – learn from them and adapt their principles. Consider joining Randolph Sterling’s Sales and Marketing Peer group (SAM group) – where top sales people discuss ways to push the bar! It can help you set and reach the goals that seem so elusive.
  2. Try something new! If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got- or so the saying goes. Join a new club, group, or even a new work out routine. A fresh perspective can change what and how you think!
  3. Use your media! Connect with others through new media. Tap into these venues to make new contacts and connections. Reaching out to others will give you a new perspective-helping you to define the process for change.

A new season is indeed upon us- take this time to evaluate your personal goals, employ the change initiatives, and find new growth. You may just find that your new perspective will lend itself to inspiration, innovation, and motivation.