Technology businesses familiar with the positive impact that can be produced by winning the endorsement of an individual who is well respected in a market, often attempt to obtain comparable results by hiring staff members (usually for a sales role) who seem to know all the right people in a specific geography or market segment. This type of sales person is referred to as someone “with an address book.”
In a best case scenario for this strategy, prospects will gravitate towards a product based upon an endorsement from this sales person with an address book, who either “knows everyone” or looks as if she played a key role in a number of successful implementations of similar products for the same markets. In our experience, sales people with address books are generally no more productive than their peers. There a couple of reasons for the rather poor return on effort:
- the hiring business failed to carefully review the contacts listed in the sales woman’s address book
- or the sales woman did not actually play the project role that she should have played if she were to successfully deliver on her potential for the hiring business
In either case, it should be clear that obtaining the most benefit from hiring someone who looks like an influential party in a market depends upon thoroughly checking credentials, and really understanding the roles of individuals who will make purchase decisions on one’s product. Successfully implementing a background check can be a difficult task for a technology business that is new to a market, and otherwise unfamiliar with the information that must be collected to make an accurate call as to whether a candidate for the position can deliver on an investment, or not.
Simply put, if the contacts in an address book are to be useful, then they must be widely respected as individuals with a long history of successfully implementing comparable solutions for projects. Further, the candidate, herself, must be able to demonstrate, without a doubt, that she either sold the components to these decision-makers, or played a key role, herself, in the project, itself.
Often, the individual hired into one of these positions proves to simply have all the right names on her list, but not much more. Perhaps she worked alongside a successful colleague who actually closed the sales, or she played a role in the implementation of competitive products, but in a capacity far removed from the actual decision-makers. If either of these scenarios are at hand, the hiring business should pause to carefully consider the hire. Better to move slowly, for a right candidate, than to move quickly where there are clear gaps between what a candidate offers and your business requires.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved