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At most companies, when you want to increase sales, you hire more sales people.  It makes sense... at first.  But if you think about it more critically, you might see that it can be a big mistake to think this way.

Every Business is an Integrated System or Process

Every business is an integrated system of activities - lead generation, sales, customer implementation and support, product development, finance, human resources, operations, etc.  When your business is growing, you need to be careful that each of these functions grows its capacity at about the same rate.  Because if one area grows capacity much faster than the others, than you are either wasting money in that function, or worse, you are providing a bad experience to customers and setting yourself up for failure.  Especially today, when opinions about products and services spread so fast in through blogs and social media.

Lead Generation is the Start of the Growth Process

Marketing (more specifically, the lead generation function within marketing) is the start of the process of growth.  If you are adding capacity to sales before you have the added capacity in lead generation you are making a mistake.

If there are not enough quality inbound leads flowing into your business through your website, then what are all those sales people going to do?  Sure, they could do some cold calling.  But then they are engaging in an activity that is less productive than your other sales people, because your other sales people are just working the higher quality inbound leads, not calling people that have never heard of your company and don't need what you sell.  Sales people will start missing quota.  They will become unhappy.  A couple might leave.  Then it will be harder to hire sales people in the future.

The right way to think about growing your business is growing the whole process.  You need to generate more leads, hire more sales people, and then also hire

Did Your VP of Sales Ask Marketing If It's OK to Hire More Sales People?

The VP of Sales should have, for their own good.  One of the things that works really well here at HubSpot is that I have a great relationship with Mark Roberge, or VP of Sales.  We are always talking about the marketing and sales process as a single entity, and we analyze our funnel constantly and make changes to optimize it and grow it.

A few months back we had an excess lead flow, and instead of hiring the one sales rep we had in the plan, we hired two, because we talked about it.  That worked pretty well, and our growth rate increased.  Then Mark's awesome sales reps caught up to me and the marketing team the next month and we had to step things up a bit.  We've done a couple things to increase lead generation and we've got excess lead flow again.  So, we're hiring sales people.

Is your company hiring sales people?  What is your plan to generate more leads to support them?  What is your relationship like with the sales team?

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Originally published May 27, 2008 10:42:00 AM, updated July 03 2013

Topics:

Marketing and Sales Alignment