Potentially good news for the economy. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, reports that "More small businesses plan to hire in the next six months than those that won’t, with demand strongest in sales and marketing, a new survey shows." Interestingly, 48% of those planning to hire are focusing on sales and marketing jobs.
My hope is that these businesses hiring realize that people are one (critical) part of a successful growth effort. My fear is that these businesses will overestimate the importance of the people decision and underestimate the other components of success; and will fail to achieve the growth they desire. My experience would indicate the latter is the most probably outcome.
I've said it before, the key to successful, sustainable growth is the implementation of an effective system that supports people. Like it, or not, the system comes before the people. Hiring someone before the system is in place is a recipe for disaster.
There are two grave mistakes that small and mid-market companies (SME) make time and again when hiring sales and marketing people. If you're one of those companies that is looking to hire in the next six months I implore you to avoid these common mistakes.
Hiring Someone to "Develop The System"
This mistake is especially common when the founder or the CEO is not the sales and marketing expert. It's such a dangerous mistake because it seems logical and just makes a lot of sense. It was Bill Parcels who said, "If you want me to cook the dinner, you've got to let me shop for the groceries." Let's hire someone who has the experience and let them build the system.
So the business goes out, hires someone who sold for (fill in name of major company). Six months later the company is still dealing with the same basic issues they were dealing with before. "It's okay," the CEO rationalizes, "these things take time." One year later, the only thing that has measurably changed is that the SME has higher sales costs. They're still commoditzed, still fighting for share and price, and still wondering why salespeople just don't work.
The reason that this fails is that hiring someone to develop and implement a system is a very different hire than a hire to lead, which in turn is a very different hire than one to sell. Just because someone has worked in an effective sales or marketing system does not mean they have the ability to build one.
Confusing Delegation with Abdication
One of the things I've learned working with SME's is that many heads of these companies don't enjoy the sales or marketing function. They would prefer to do the work or to serve clients than to deal with the insanity called sales and marketing. When they hire on the sales and marketing side, they use "delegation" as an excuse to abdicate.
I've got news for the owners/CEOs of 98% of companies with less than $100 million. Like it or not, you are the chief sales officer and the chief marketing officer. You can hire someone to execute. You can even hire someone to lead the effort. But, until the company is truly and totally independent of you, you are the chief there. You must be invested and involved in the process. While this approach can appear to be more painful, it will save you tremendous aggravation in the long run.