Invest in the Bigger Jackhammer

I listened to the sound of a small jackhammer for the better part of this past week. Each day, I’d look out, and think, “Today, they must be done! The sidewalk isn’t that big!” And then another day I’d listen to the sound of a small jackhammer grinding away at the sidewalk for another 8 hours. Now, I don’t know a ton about construction, but I do know that jackhammers come in several sizes, and of course, price points.  This was the smallest cheapest, lowest power one.  A slightly more expensive one has more power and weight that can more quickly cut up concrete.  And if want to get it done really fast?  Hire a bobcat with an experienced, professional operator and a hammer bit and that thing is done in less than a day.

So why am I sharing this? It’s about the math.

It occurred to me that this was the perfect example of the false economy of picking the low-cost provider, who among other things, in this case used the wrong tools for the job.  The job took three times longer than it needed to, along with the added noise, dust, and general disruption.  So were these real savings?

As I dodged the pile of rubble in the street for yet another day, it occurred to me that this was the same false economy I see when companies take the lowest approach to sales and marketing.  Rather than investing in the experienced professional who brings the know-how to scope the job, has the right tools, and gets the desired results quickly, I see too many companies going with the lowest cost choice.  And like my neighbor, the results don’t usually turn out the way they’d hoped or in the time-frame they wanted.

The Danger of Underinvesting

Sales expert Anthony Innarino calls it “the danger of underinvesting” in his new book, The Lost Art of Closing.  Anthony points out that “better” and “faster” are almost never cheaper. Hiring cheaper, less experienced employees, or going with the lowest cost vendor, won’t put you in the position to be the first or best to market.  To be a market leader, you need to invest in your sales and marketing early on. Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom as you continue to look to save more and more, and you can end up risking your customers doing it. At Oinkodomeo we often work with clients after failed marketing projects, or as one called it, “getting burned by marketing”. But in reality, they didn’t check references, they went for the lowest cost bidder, and thought they could get by cutting corners to save money.  In the long run, it delayed the time to achieving the lead or revenue goals they wanted, and often they paid more because they had to start over.

Successful Sales and Marketing Require Investment

Here are 4 tips for running a cost-effective, results-oriented sales and marketing function

  1. Hire VP level experience when you need it
  2. Use interns to supplement, not run your department
  3. Mix inhouse and outsourced professionals
  4. Invest in tools that will scale with you

Hire VP level experience when you need it

When you launch your business, it is critical to hire a core set of leaders who will grow your business.  Sales and marketing are the folks who are going to bring in the customers, the all-important revenue, so it’s a mystery to me why this would be an area where anyone would want to cut costs.  But I see that frequently!  You need 1 VP of Marketing and 1 VP of Sales.  Each of them should have experience in the industry, hiring and leading teams, and managing vendors.  Building teams is critical.  Your sales and marketing leaders must know how to hire the right players for each role, train, coach and lead them.  You can hire a growth hacker, but you also need a VP to develop strategy and manage the team.

Use interns to supplement, not run your department

Interns are awesome. We are fortunate in San Diego to have a number of excellent universities that support intern programs.  However, no matter how smart your interns are, you should not have them run your sales or marketing efforts.  For one, they don’t have the strategy development and leadership experience we talked about above.  And the other is that you have a responsibility to be training and mentoring them.  So include them in your mix, but make sure they have proper mentorship and the right place in the team so it’s a win-win for both intern and company.  Otherwise, you’ll end up being an experiment and wonder why the results are so long in coming.

Mix inhouse and outsourced professionals

Want to save money?  Use a mix of inhouse and outsourced professionals.  While my associate with the sidewalk project did realize he needed to hire professionals, he didn’t hire the right ones.  When you are growing a company, you can’t afford to hire an inhouse resources for every type of activity you need: web development, graphics, event planning, PR, content writing, sales training, sales ops, inside sales, you name it.  And you probably don’t need them all the time or all at once.  This is where you can selectively outsource for specialized needs.  But as with my jackhammer story, make sure you are hiring skilled professionals with the right know-how and tools. Check their references. It might feel like you are paying a high rate per hour, but think about your trade-outs in results or time.  It might be a false economy.  Invest in proven, high-quality outside resources who will get the job done right the first time.

Invest in tools that will scale with you

Since we started out by talking tools, we’ll wrap up there too. Modern sales and marketing take a lot more tools than they did even just 5 years ago.  Today we need automation, analytics, AI and more to run sales and marketing.  Create a roadmap of what tools you need today and what you’ll need to invest in for the future to grow your business.  Avoid the risk of underinvesting – be sure that’s part of your budget and planning so you are investing to scale.

The good news with the jackhammer story is that finally they brought in the bobcat and finished up in under an hour. Beware the false economy of the small jackhammer.

Oinkodomeo is a Sales and Marketing Digital Agency for business to business (B2B) technology, SaaS, and services companies. Oinkodomeo isn’t just another agency; we focus on building a foundation for successful, customer-centric sales and marketing.