Thanks to the arrival of the internet, the journey that B2B buyers go on when making their purchasing decisions has been transformed beyond recognition. What this has meant for sales and marketing teams is that their role within that journey is now very different and strategies and tactics have also shifted.
For marketing, what is needed today often isn’t being taught at university, and for sales, chasing the money just isn’t enough anymore, as reps need to take more of a consultative role. If you’re a startup, then you face an added challenge. Budgets are likely to be tight and hiring in experienced sales and marketing people is probably just not possible. What you will need is a good all-rounder who can concentrate on that job alone and nothing else, while you grow.
To be successful when faced with these modern buyers, teams need to recognize how the process has changed and to hit on the right mix of talent. It takes both an understanding of the skills required, as well as an ability to find and spot candidates with real potential.
So, what do the top teams look like? And how can you find the talent you need?
What makes an effective modern marketing team?
Knowledgeable – Modern marketing teams are at the cutting edge of their industry. They’re acutely aware of current trends and developments, and importantly, they’re not afraid to try them out. They will always know about the ‘latest thing’.
They’re enormously creative and flexible in their approach. They are willing to take risks and able to challenge the status quo. Thinking outside of the box comes naturally to them.
It should go without saying that effective marketing teams have strong communication skills – whether the written word, verbal, or taking cues from behavior and body language. They share information in interesting and highly targeted ways and can read between the lines.
Effectively combine offline and online
Modern marketing teams understand how to combine offline with online and recognize that it’s important. They will repurpose online content for offline use, make sure offline content always refers back to online and spot any opportunities to transition between the two.
They work together with all customer-facing teams to achieve business goals. They will seek out the unique input, insights and knowledge that can be gained from different departments to strengthen their strategies and activity.
What makes a successful modern sales team?
Understand consultative selling
Great sales teams understand the consultative selling approach and its complexities. They recognize that the role of a sales team has changed and know how they now need to act to close a deal.
They are excellent communicators and networkers. They know the power of establishing a personal connection and the importance of active listening. They are authentic and genuine, being mindful to always keep their promises.
Modern sales teams take an approach that shifts focus away from the product they are selling and instead focuses on the needs of the customer they want to sell to. They will use every opportunity they get to ask good questions, listen and generally be helpful.
Use the right tools
They are not afraid to use technology if it will support their aims and help maximize their results. They will see the benefit of digital tools that enhance the sales process and generate a positive return on investment.
Strong sales teams understand the value of data and that the more they have, the more success they may find. They will capture this data and hold it in such a way that it can be effectively shared and used by all.
The teams will be successful at working together with all other customer-facing teams to achieve business goals. They’ll recognize the importance of this and what they can give, as well as what they can take from the process.
Where to find new talent
Finding talent remains a key challenge for many businesses. There is a lot of competition out there and also a lot more options when it comes to choosing how and where to start your search. Often salary won’t be the deciding factor, especially for top talent, so it’s important to project more about you as a company and the broader opportunity you are offering.
Traditional HR methods still have a place within recruitment and can work. Many firms still invest in jobs ads in the local media and it can be effective to a certain degree. But you also need to think outside the box.
Online there’s a growing range of meeting and networking methods that could open doors for you. Sites like LinkedIn, for example, and inbound.org, which is great for spotting talent in content and inbound marketing. There are also apps such as Meetup, Hired and TopTal.
Think what else you could do to stand out as an employer. Is there an event you could host? An industry network you could link into? A way to tie-up with a leading University or college?
When it comes to spotting talent, a cultural fit is important and so is diversity. Great signs to look out for are people who are full of new ideas and interested in current affairs and the world around them. They’ll also be proactive in their self-improvement.
The skills you need
What skills are the absolute minimum that a candidate needs to have? And when you think about these skills, consider whether they can be learned and developed through training.
Coming across someone who has potential and is going to be a really good ‘fit’, is important. Often finding the right person can be more important than having the skills in place already.
When it comes to knowing what skills to look out for, firstly assess your current team and give some thought to what gaps may exist. Here is a quick guide to the type of skills and experience to aim for:
A marketing team needs a mix of:
- allrounders that help with strategy, trends, etc.
- content producers
- graphic designers
- web designers
- classic advertising
- social media and other online channels
If you plan to work with an external agency, then be clear on what you want from the outset. Check what talent you may already have in-house and where support would be best used. Remember, there always needs to be one person charged with communication and liaison between the agency and the company. For more advice on going down this route, check out our blog on using external marketing support and what to think about when outsourcing your social media management.
A sales team needs a mix of:
- order takers
- network builders
- sweet talkers
- service first
There are many different styles of sales person and the strongest team will always be formed of a mixture of types, as customers respond in different ways to different techniques. Make sure you know what these common types are.
See what you team currently has and decide what may be needed. This decision will be influenced by a number of factors, such as the length of your sales cycle. What you’re aiming for is the best mix for the company, your customers and the industry you’re operating in. Check out our blog for more details about the different sales types.
As a final note on salary, you also need to think about the type of compensation model you will follow. A common set up for sales would be a combination of low fixed salary and commission. If you can’t pay a salary, then the commission you offer will need to be very high.
Ultimately, whoever you aim to recruit, needs to fit with your business growth strategy. Think about where you’re aiming to go, not where you are now. Look at your existing talent and think what are the strengths and weaknesses, and where there may be gaps you need to fill.