Managing marketing employees

Managing marketing employeesSales and marketing are critical to the success of any business. As a business owner or manager, you have a vital role to play in leading the marketing effort and maximising the effectiveness of your sales and marketing team

In small businesses, the owner-manager typically takes a prominent role in representing the business, networking with key contacts and pursuing sales. Business founders in particular are often keen enthusiasts, with a deep understanding of their product (or service) and a natural feel for the market.

As the business grows, sales and marketing activities increasingly need to be delegated and given a more structured approach. If you're a strong leader you may need to step back, allowing your sales and marketing team the freedom to operate without constant interference.

The owner-manager (or board of directors) typically retains ultimate responsibility for overall marketing strategy and takes a keen interest in day-to-day sales and marketing activity. The owner-manager often retains a role as the public face of the business, though this too can be delegated to an individual who understands the industry and has the right personal qualities to represent the company.

Building your sales and marketing effectiveness

A clear marketing strategy helps you identify where you need to strengthen the marketing team, and whether this should involve recruiting and training employees or working with external suppliers.

In many businesses, the primary focus is on sales and then customer service. Marketing support - such as marketing communications and PR - is more likely to be contracted out.

Larger businesses tend to invest more in building in-house marketing capability: for example, to manage their website. As your business grows, investing in more formal marketing skills (such as market research) and systems (such as customer relationship management software) becomes increasingly important.

Key issues in marketing management

Managing sales represents a never-ending challenge. Many employees are naturally reluctant to sell, so continuous motivation and support is essential. Incentive schemes typically form part of this process.

Conflicts can arise between departments and within sales. Salespeople may be highly rewarded compared to other employees, sparking jealousy. Poorly planned incentives can lead to undesirable behaviour (eg excessive discounting to win sales) and unhealthy competition within the team.

Care needs to be taken with the organisation of other marketing activities. Salespeople naturally focus on sales (rather than, say, customer service or admin) and other marketing tasks may not attract the attention they should. A separate marketing support employee or team can help overcome this. Consideration needs to be given to how marketing and sales work together and what recognition marketing employees get for their contribution to performance.