As the owner of a young company with aspirations (and opportunities) to grow, you know you need to delegate to increase capacity. You may be considering hiring a salesperson. Don’t! Sales should be the last thing you delegate, not the first.

Several years ago the owners of a client company dissolved their partnership. The partner who moved on had been responsible for sales. Jeff, the new sole owner and former production manager, sought my advice about hiring a salesperson. He was surprised when I encouraged him to keep the sales role himself for the near term.

Build Your Credibility

Owners who are also skilled carpenters are often tempted to hire a salesperson as one of their first team members. They don’t consider themselves skilled as salespeople and they envision someone else being better able to keep the work flowing and the pipeline full so they can do what they do best: work in the field and manage production. This is rarely an effective strategy.

The salesperson is the face of the company and thus has a huge impact on first impressions and the public perception. As owner, you are your company’s most valuable asset and most effective ambassador. “Most effective” does not mean most polished — but don’t let that bother you. Your effectiveness comes from your sincerity, your ability to make decisions, and your willingness to stand behind your commitments. Potential remodeling clients are not looking for polish. They are looking for competence, communication, and trustworthiness.

It is almost always better for company stability and long-term growth for an owner to keep the sales role in the early years and to hire administration and production support. As the company grows, add sales support — designers, estimators, drafters — before adding salespeople. Then, when you do add a sales rep, he or she will step into a role that’s well-defined and supported.

As owner, you should embrace the task of building upon your natural credibility by improving your sales process, systems, and skills. Invest in yourself rather than seeking to hand off this critical role to someone else.

Recently Jeff talked about how comfortable he now is in his primary salesperson role. With admin, production, and support people in place, he’s been pleasantly surprised at the volume he can personally handle — just over $1 million and growing. He is again looking to hire a “real” sales rep, this time in addition, not instead of, himself. He feels prepared to manage a new person and integrate them into the company culture because he now understands the role and how to do it successfully.

—Richard Steven, president of Fulcra Consulting, specializes in helping remodeling companies create and implement effective management plans.