Many firms we talk to struggle to determine the best business development approach. Does it make sense to hire full-time sales people? Can’t we expect our marketing director to make sales for us? How will we compensate a full-time sales person?
Here are some ideas to keep in mind when embarking on the process of building a growth culture in your firm:
- Marketing and Sales are the fundamental building blocks of a growth culture. You need to address both of these functions in your firm to sustain consistent growth.
- Marketing is defined as positioning your firm – telling your story to your target market and building your brand equity in the marketplace;
- Sales is defined as getting face-to-face with clients and prospective clients to ask for their business;
- Marketing without sales leads to expense with no/low return on investment; but sales without marketing leads to poor results and wasted time.
- Within the basic building blocks, there are four elements of a growth culture:
- Strategic marketing – determining target markets, focus services, goals, budgets, competitive positioning, etc.
- Tactical marketing – implementation of marketing tactics and sales support activities
- Sales people – determining who will sell services for your firm and making sure they understand and accept the role
- Sales management – tracking results, establishing accountability, motivating sales people, providing training, etc.
The characteristics of a successful marketing professional are quite different from those of an effective sales person. Most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to hire one person to handle both of these fundamental roles in your firm. You’ll be frustrated. They’ll be frustrated. Results will suffer. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation.
Thinking of hiring full-time sales people? Ask yourself the following:
- Do you have effective sales management to help the sales person succeed?
- Do the partners agree on the role of the full-time sales person vs. the role of the partners regarding sales?
- Do you have a defined compensation plan for the sales person approved by your partners?
- Can you find someone with a proven sales record in the professional services (or at least business-to-business) industry?
- Are you willing to measure results, hold the full-time sales person accountable for reaching goals, and measure your return on investment?
- Have you made strategic marketing decisions and do you have tactical marketing resources to support full-time sales?
If your answer is no to these questions, your firm is likely to have a negative experience with full-time sales people. It’s crucial to establish the growth culture elements before introducing full-time sales into your firm.
Building a growth culture takes careful planning and attention to the four elements. Doing so can yield big-time, sustainable results for your firm.
About the author
Carrie Steffen is a Shareholder
and Vice President at The Whetstone Group