On the one hand...Since the beginning of the 2014, there has been a lot of mixed messages in the press on the subject of small business recovery.  Statistics from payroll, accounting, and government agencies suggest that growth performance is lagging behind expectations although it is moving slowly forward. (See: Report)  Not surprisingly, surveys of small business owners reveal optimism. Nearly 70% of the business owners surveyed by Palo Alto software say they will add between 1 to 10 employees in 2014.

As business owners begin to think about growth and hiring, many may be thinking that adding a new salesperson could help them accelerate their revenue growth. This seems like a logical conclusion because most business owners look to their sales leaders, or sales team, as being the initial point of new revenue.  However often hiring a new salesperson into your small business can have a detrimental impact because of risks.  These risks, or costs, fall into three areas: real dollars associated with paying a new person; opportunity cost associated with the time and attention the owner or other key members of a small business will need to invest in getting the new hire up to speed; and possible relationship costs associated with introducing a new person into existing accounts or customers.

Preparing in advance of your hiring can mitigate these risks and ensure your new sales hire is successful and contributing to growth.  The following four actions can help you mitigate your new salesperson risk.

  1. Invest in building a defined marketing strategy for your business. The strategy should include why you are in business (your purpose), what makes your business unique (your difference), and who values that difference (your ideal customer). Your new salesperson should be able to clearly understand the culture and purpose of your business and how to identify those that will value what you do. This will greatly reduce the time it takes for them to educate and inform potential customers. In addition, having a marketing strategy that defines your ideal customer allows you to describe the customers that your business wants and emphasize the point that gaining “any” new customers is not a business objective.
  2. Design the customer experience using the Marketing Hourglass ™. This will illustrate the progression of your future customers from Know, Like to Trust, Try, and Buy. Understanding how they will progress from one stage to the next within the Hourglass will allow your salesperson to map their interaction to the way your future customer wants to buy. Your Marketing Hourglass™ will clearly define your lead conversion process and allow the salesperson to be predictable and effective. It is the roadmap of sales success.
  3. Create a lead generation system in order to have the salesperson be more “buying guide” than “direct sales.” Inbound leads are more likely to qualify and become customers than leads gained through prospecting and cold calling. Having leads contacting your business will provide opportunities for your sales person and help them establish wins and new customers.
  4. Fill your sales tool chest with tools your salesperson needs in order to help the ideal customer buy. That might include your marketing kit (collateral, case studies, and other education content).

Ensuring you have addressed these four areas before you hire a new sales person will increase their effectiveness, help them deliver better results, and reduce the risk of having a negative impact on your small business.

Are you ready to define your small business marketing strategy? The Valens Point Marketing Catalyst program provides the framework to ensure you get the job done. Click Here to find out more.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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