Monthly Archive May 2016

ByDarren B

Why “Bring Your Own Rolodex” Raises Red Flags

Very interested in getting some community reaction to this…

Granted, some of you reading this may not know what a “rolodex” is or what it was used for…  So that everyone is on the same page let’s define it simply as your contact database.  This is about the names, numbers and emails of prospects and customers that you have interacted with in a sales capacity over your career.

I have a real beef with companies that stipulate this as part of a new sales candidate’s contribution.  In a list of job qualifications it might say something like, “Candidate must have rolodex replete with industry contacts” or “Extensive customer network”.

Specifically, here are my top three reasons why this is a turnoff:

  1. It’s lazy.  Does the company really not know who their buyers are or unable to buy a list?  Fundamentally, we’re talking data here.  While developing and maintaining good, clean data takes work and is part of any salesperson’s job, it’s not for the salesperson to provide walking in the door.
  2. It’s fleeting.  I’ve hired some sales reps through the years and I can remember a few instances where the individual “pitched” some of their relationships with would-be prospects.  While it wasn’t something I had explicitly asked them for (at that point I think I just intuitively knew better), they argued they could really “hit the ground running” and bring deals fast by leveraging these relationships.  Most of the time these were professional relationships, but in one case it was a brother-in-law and another an uncle.  In my experience, these NEVER panned out – but even if they had…what’s next?  So they bring in a deal – or two – based on a pre-existing relationship.  Now what?  Can they prospect? Can they forage, research and build the relationship(s) for this particular company and solution?  That’s what really matters!
  3. It’s [potentially] illegal.  If you are leaving one job to go to another, you likely will be bound by some type of confidentiality agreement.  I’m not a lawyer, but the “rolodex” that’s carried over is likely bound by the same agreement as a form of intellectual property of the former company.

Overall, this kind of new rep qualification and expectation is just unflattering for the company.  And it’s not because I don’t have my own so-called “rolodex” of people.  Quite the contrary, I have a trusted network of professionals that I would absolutely leverage if and when appropriate.  However, it would never come before I knew there was an appropriate fit and that the company (and product) were worthy of an introduction.  Neither of these qualifiers would exist for any salesperson walking in the door; in my experience, it takes three to four months to assess and target any network potential that may exist.

It usually takes that long to understand the solution nuances and know if a network contact has a need.  It also takes about that long to know if there is a “philosophical fit.”  In other words, is the company’s approach to business (and even their long-term viability) going to be a match and something that won’t tarnish a solid, trusting, often personal relationship?  Actually, this might be a fourth reason to add to the list – It’s risky (for the sales rep).  Why turn over my network only to find out that the fit’s not there or the company is a long-term risk?

If you have an opinion, I would value your feedback.  Do I have this all wrong?

If this provoked some thought, please like and share.