The art of being Wrong

This was a good week. I either learned something or crystallised a thought I had bubbling under the surface, depending on the hour and my ego will depend on which way that falls.

I have been with my company for almost 7 years now, and thought I had the whole place worked out, well I hoped I had. I know the IT industry, and how it works in my market, and I know the main players. I work for a company which provides IT services to tier one tier two companies, and my job is to hire everyone (permanent workforce) to achieve this.

We had a challenge at the start of the financial year, we needed to grow our Business Development team. We have a really strong and successful BD team, but we wanted to take it a different way. We had grown by repeat business and word of mouth for the last 16/17 years, which is a very strong and secure way to grow a business. However to get to the next stage, I needed to hire some hard core hunters.

There are a lot of similarities between our business and an Agency, and yet the differences are vast. My company had never hired anyone from an Agency (ie hired an ex TPR) to do sales for us, and I thought this was strange, as the BD people I had worked with in TPR were the hardest core sales people I have ever seen.

I put my case forward, to the Managers of BD and our Directors and was given the go ahead. Hunting Agency BD people I went.

As always finding the right sales person was a challenge, wading through the BS for the reality. I found a person who was dead set right, a phone warrior, a fearless hunter, a strong cultural fit and a great guy to go with it. Added to this he seemed to have his ego in check too. GOLD!

Unfortunately what I thought we needed… we really didn’t. Yes, he definitely opened doors, got new business and did what we thought we wanted.

I wanted the hard core hunter.. got it..
I wanted someone to build business… got it..

However, I needed someone to do this AND build on our core strengths…. our relationships, our non discounting, our ability to engage our people at all levels of the organisation, and the fact that those of us who don’t actually deliver a project or a solution, are there to support and develop those who do… We didn’t really get this.

I know that relationships are built in TPR’s at all levels of an organisation, that as sales people for these organisations you solve business problems, yet I’m not convinced we can call that solution selling. Which I really needed. The sales cycle is traditionally quicker in TPR world. More transactional if you will. It is one person, one problem normally.

Not saying one is better than the other, I have just seen the different skill sets, I’m sure people can and do make the transitions between both. Yet I have learned that it is not a simple transition like I initially thought. I was wrong.

This actually excites me, the outcome is unfortunate, and trust me.. I hate being wrong, however you don’t learn without failure. We took a risk, OK, it didn’t work out as we’d hoped.. but we had the (to quote WWE) intestinal fortitude to take it. (The fact that I was allowed to take this risk as my CEO was against this plan, encourages me as to the culture of my company, please note, I’m not sucking up, I’d be surprised if my Executive had time to read blogs). It was something different, the upside was compelling enough to give it a go.

Even in this economy, should we still be taking risks? Or if we don’t are we letting opportunities slip? Will I be allowed to take such a risk in 3 months time? Will conservatism take over and kill off the entrepreneur, especially as economists and accountants get more and more involved in decision making? It’ll be interesting to watch!

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Posted on February 7, 2009, in decision making, recruiting, risk, sales. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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