My client was excitedly sharing his growth plans : 100% over 3 years. I love businesses with ambition and spend much of my time working with them to ensure that their ambition is achieved. This day was no exception. We discussed the resource impact - extra capacity in production, technical, development and a bit of admin all scaled up in line with the growth curve less a little (to allow for some improved efficiency due to scale).
So, what about sales and marketing?, I asked. "Oh, we'll probably add in another sales person and keep marketing the same…." Suddenly we are into "hoping for a miracle" territory.
I checked that 100% growth was the goal, then asked "surely you should be increasing your sales team and marketing resource / budget by 100% also?"
Unless your product or service is so unique that there is unsatisfied demand for it, you are going to need to increase marketing spend to attract interest from new customers and increase sales resource to convert them to customers. Growth requires investment in the demand end of the process as well as supply. But what is the right level of resource to put into sales?
So thanks to the company research tools on LinkedIn I have checked to see what proportion of staff resource are in sales roles across a random sample of mid-sized companies … the answer seems to be in the range of 10 to 25% of employees are in sales. Funnily enough those at the upper end (25%) seem to be growing faster - yes, the more time and resource you allocate to sales, the more you will sell!!
The challenge for most small or early stage businesses is that no one starts a new business because they love selling - so achieving growth outside of your existing network means forcing yourself to do something you may not enjoy. As a result sales activity can easily take a lower place in your priority list.
So just a reminder that if you aim to grow, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient effort, resource and budget for sales and marketing.