Your company's sales and marketing function requires you to take some of your most critical staffing decisions. For small businesses, the employment of average or poor salespeople can have a disproportionately harmful effect. The smaller the firm, the fewer the resources to manage and develop under-achievers. Getting the recruitment process right can be critically important at this level; managing and training your marketing and sales staff may require more of your time than you have budgeted for.
Don't try to replicate yourself
Firstly, be realistic about what your sales and marketing staff can achieve. You may be your company's best salesperson because you know exactly what your product or service can do - and if anyone can communicate what your company does with passion, it's you.
However, your enthusiasm may be the sole reason for the sales you've made to date. Yours is a personal connection to the business which cannot be replicated - so don't attempt to. It is also beneficial for your business to bring in a wide range of skills, experience and styles. You should be wary of the temptation to recruit someone in your own image.
You should prepare a person specification setting out the desirable and essential characteristics that candidates should have. For example, you might have specified that candidates should have a particular marketing qualification or experience of your industry. Requirements like these can be used to quickly eliminate candidates who do not match your criteria.
Initially, your sales and marketing staff may not have the same passion or in-depth knowledge you have; they'll need to work harder to make sales, and they won't necessarily have the same appeal to prospects as you in your position as owner-manager.
Recruitment - experience, enthusiasm - or both?
Recruiting salespeople can be expensive - and risky. It's easy to pay too little to an inexperienced sales person and risk missing sales targets. You may be better off employing someone with greater experience, relevant qualifications and a record of successful selling. You'll pay more - but the chances are your more experienced salesperson will have a greater chance of making those crucial sales.
Be cautious about over-reliance on qualifications unless they are genuinely relevant. In sales roles, experience can be more important. But marketing and sales management qualifications can be beneficial if your existing team lacks experience or expertise or you are recruiting for a more senior role.
Best known are qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The CAM Foundation, the Institute of Direct Marketing and the Market Research Society also offer respected qualifications covering particular marketing disciplines.
You may also have someone you can build your sales team around as sales increase. Employing salespeople with industry expertise and credibility is not easy, but such people can make your life a lot easier by managing their own time efficiently. If your business is selling professional services, this is even more important.
While experience is key, it needs to be relevant. Look for candidates who have worked in similar roles to the one you are offering, ideally in the same industry. Telesales experience may be little use in a role that relies on servicing a handful of key accounts. Marketing high-value products to business customers requires a different approach from direct marketing to consumers.
If you need someone to develop new business rather than act as an account manager, you will need a candidate with experience and enthusiasm. Make sure your expensive new salesperson appreciates the effort that will be required.
Finally, consider recruiting people with relevant contacts. People buy from people, so employing salespeople who already have a list of prospects could lead to more sales. The best salespeople will always have such a list and, as a rule of thumb, the better their list, the more they're worth.
Contacts are also vital when it comes to employing marketing staff. Your marketing people need to have good connections, networking skills and a solid understanding of social media marketing as well as having a good grasp of more traditional marketing strategy.
Motivation and training
Motivation is a key component in the successful management of sales and marketing employees. Incentive schemes typically form part of this process, but if they are poorly planned there can be unhealthy competition within the team. You should also consider the distinction between sales and marketing - your salespeople may focus on sales to the detriment of customer service, so you may need keep these functions separate.
Training and development is perhaps more important in sales and marketing roles than in any other part of your business. Accompanying your employees on sales calls, or using coaches or marketing consultants to help develop marketing and sales skills, can be crucial elements in the success of your staff. Sales and marketing is particularly well served by training workshops, seminars and online training.
Again, leading marketing associations typically offer marketing training, either directly or through approved providers. Your trade association may also offer marketing training relevant to your sector.