How to plan for B2B growth, Part I

istock_generic_179893 aIf you are in B2B, preparing for company growth isn’t easy. There are so many moving parts to manage and control, even the best of companies can get it wrong sometimes. But when all the right signs are pointing that it is your time to grow, how can you not make the move?

For this topic, I’ve decided to break-up it up into two parts, mainly because when I started to write the hiring section, it took up much more space than expected.

The Problem With Marketing and Sales Staff

I’ve seen many companies fail when it comes to new market entry and/or moving to their next phase (companies has 4 growth phases) and it usually because they didn’t have the right staff, specifically sales and marketing staff.

Sure sometimes we have product failure or the manufacture screwed up production causing financial loses and causing companies to close up shop. However, this failure is actually due to lack of finances. Meaning the company didn’t have enough cash to carry itself during difficult times.

From my experience, it is easier to find qualified engineers, super-duper techies, wonderful graphic artists and well-organized plant managers but when it comes to qualifying, managing and retaining sales, inside-sales, marketing and customer support teams, this is a different ball game.

Most companies will hire based on whether they like the person or if the person fits with their company culture, but these are the wrong traits to base qualified marketing and sales staff.

To get your company to the next phase, you actually need marketing and sales staff that have an entrepreneurial mind-set, truth tellers, pioneers, resilient and curious by nature. These personality traits will help you to make the right decisions, create a company that is proactive and a culture that is dynamic, filled with smart people looking to make a mark in history, your company and in their profession.

Sure, these specific marketing and sales types maybe difficult to handle but that’s half the fun of getting your company to the top.

Instead, most companies will hire like-minded people or people who go along with EVERYTHING but they end up staying at your company for 5….10 years and you start to wonder, who can I select to help me expand my company?

Most of the time, companies are successful not because of their people, but because the market is just right. Have you ever heard of the saying, “The market was so rich, that even the worst of companies made money.”

It’s true!

Give them the rewards they deserve.  

Sure, I sound like an HR manager, but my point is that rock-solid marketing and sales people will leave your company if they don’t get the rewards they deserve. Many a great sales person went to the competition, because once they brought in a top client their commission got too big and as a result, adjusted. Ouch!

Make sure your back-end is tight before market expansion.

Many companies don’t have a unified culture bringing together customer support, marketing and sales to serve a new territory. You’ve probably read the stores where marketing and sales don’t get along? Well, I’ve never experienced that personally, but I can understand it.

This usually happens when:

  1. Big Companies: When companies get too big, they tend to split up branding, customer support, sales, strategy and so on. This actually creates competition between tactics when each tactic should be ruled by marketing. I will explain in a future post.
  2. Sales leads marketing: When marketing is a support function to sales, meaning this department writes brochures, manages the website and newsletter, then you just need to hire coordinators, communication people not marketing directors.  Also, your company will be a sales-focused company, not a marketing led company, two different types of companies…
  3. No investment in your Marketing team: Do you invest in your marketing team by allowing them to visit trade shows (not manage the booth), get educated on our product and actually meet your top clients? No, then don’t expect them to write a brochure with in-depth knowledge on your product, thus creating an unsatisfied sales team…i.e. the fighting.
  4. Customer Support Ready? Are you entering Europe, do you need a 24 hour support service? Are you ready, do you have the proper back-end probably developed for this new venture? Most companies start with first sales and then we build the customer support staff. But before entering the new market, do your home work first. Do you hire local, get staff abroad and so on? You should have a blue print ready.
  5. Customer Support Team: Who manages this team? Most probably your product development team. Why not put this team under Marketing and watch how much your marketing team will grow in value, knowledgeable in your product and your customer. Your product development team probably knows the customer more than your marketing team – that’s why sales and product development get along better!!
  6. Hire experience: When you are a young company, you can make the mistakes and take your time to learn ‘business’ by hiring a junior marketing staff or people who are learning sales. However, there comes a time when you just need to hire experience. If your company has reached a certain level in your industry, then you need to hire likewise.

Part II in how to plan for business growth, is next. Subscribe to our blog!

Also don’t forget about our C3MTL series. We have an open call for writers, please check it out.

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