Who do I Hire First Sales or Marketing?
First Sales or Marketing?
So you’ve created something new, disruptive and or improved, that solves a big enough problem that enough people will pay you, to remove that problem – congratulations you have a business. Now the fun begins. The potential “customers” that you surveyed when your new widget was in development have disappeared into the US Witness Protection Program. They never had anything more than a passing interest in widgets and as you weren’t at the time in a position to sell them anything, they just blew smoke at you and said some nice things to make you feel good. They had no idea you were going to re-mortgage your home, borrow your parents life savings, and sell your soul to Venture Capitalists – the joys of being an Entrepreneur.
When you launch your B2B start up, regardless of the product or services you will be providing, you are going to need Sales & Marketing. Which one comes first, and does it even matter? Unlike larger businesses that can possibly afford to make mistakes, many Startups don’t have that luxury. A mistake early on in business, can not only wound a Startup, it can prove fatal, given the investment required for either sales or marketing.
You are now potentially about to make an expensive mistake. You need Sales, so logic dictates that you hire a Salesperson and here are 6 reasons why this might not be the best way forward, and why you should hire a Marketing person first.
1) Early customer experiences should be used to refine your Value Proposition, and refine your sales process. As the Startup owner you need to be involved in this so you fully understand your customers perspective.
2) Most Startup owners hire Sales People because they themselves don’t want to be in sales. Whist I accept this, you do not need an expensive sales person to gather the low hanging fruit in your market. Do the early stage sales yourself, learn from the experience and start gathering customer data and insights.
3) Sales Leads are a result of Awareness, Interest and Consideration. Together this is called Demand Creation and marketing people do this, not sales people.
4) The fact is, in order to sell sales people need sales leads, and whilst this may seem unusual, most sales people are not good at lead generation.
5) In order to be 100% effective sales people need sales tools such as Sales Process, Sales Plans, Case Studies, Reference Sites, Testimonials, Literature, Product Guides and Sales Battlecards. These are the foundations for sales success and all have a part to play. Are all these tools in place?
6) You have no experience or qualifications in Sales Management. Invest in the most important part of your business – yourself.
Unfortunately when a Startup employs a sales person, and that appointment is not successful, the company loses money, market momentum, market share, and worst of all, they lose confidence. They lose confidence in Sales People and are then reluctant to hire another sales person for fear of making another mistake. This can put their business back years even if they do manage to learn from their mistakes. In todays world, Marketing is measurable and it is much easier to validate results or the lack of them. The turnover of sales reps in the market is huge and my suggestion is to de-risk your situation and start with marketing, and only when you have so many sales leads that you cannot cope, then hire a sales person (preferably from within your organization). That way you are giving both yourself and the sales person the best chance of success.
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- How to Improve Sales in any B2B Sales Organisation - 26th September 2016
- How to Stop Competing & Still Win New Business - 7th September 2016