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5 tips to bring your sales and marketing in-house

Lawrence Andrews
Marketing technology

Sales and marketing service providers have had it too good too long. It’s no surprise 30% of businesses report they have been working on bringing more sales and marketing activities in house in 2021.  

Let’s assume you’re a small to medium sized business and you’ve been working with a digital marketing partner for a while. Maybe they do some SEO, maybe they sort out advertising on social media or Google.

The monthly fees keep on growing, what you are getting out of it, not so much. You resent approving the monthly invoice and the pointless weekly check-ins. Frankly, it all feels like a waste of money.

You might not be this miffed, but whatever your current emotional situation more and more businesses are working on bringing sales and marketing in-house.

As someone that spent 10 years working in digital marketing agencies from the very large to the small, I think this is the right decision for most businesses!

The agency model is broken, there is a better way for small and medium sized businesses. I share my top 5 tips on how to get started in 2022.

Tip 1:  Be clear on your goals

It’s good to have an aspirational goal, to set a target, aim for it. No one can stop you.  If you’ve been on LinkedIn long enough you’ve probably been sufficiently ‘inspired’ in that respect. I come instead with an impassioned plea to establish your immediate goals.

What isn’t working with your current sales and marketing and what would you like to fix when bringing it in house? Try to be specific.

Do you need more leads, do you want to get your name out there more? Are you struggling to convert leads to sales? Maybe you want to better target your existing customers: Communicate with them more, make them happier and sell them more stuff. Perhaps it’s just a cost thing.

These are a few examples, there are many others. The important thing is to identify 1 - 2 key goals that can provide a focus for your first steps in building your own in-house sales and marketing capability.

And I couldn’t finish without also encouraging you to think about a few aspirational goals. In an ideal world how could you imagine digital playing a role in your business in the future?

How could it help you achieve business growth and sustain the scale of the business you desire to run?

I joke but this also helps to provide direction for strategic planning. So you can keep building and keep growing once you’ve achieved the practical first 1 - 2 key goals.

Tip 2: Put some numbers to it

You’ve established some goals, maybe on a few post-it notes, maybe just in your head. This is the point that I encourage you to load up the excel. We are doing a rough cost model. Stay with me!

List out your monthly sales and revenue on two rows. On another list out your marketing spend by month. Consider what proportion of sales you can confidently attribute to your marketing spend?

No blog article would be complete without some reference to repeatedly referenced stats.

Gartner’s state of the marketing budgets reports tell us marketing budgets are typically around 10% of revenue (although they dropped nearer to 6% during COVID). Digital spend typically represents around 70% of this spend.

Where do you sit in this? what do you currently spend, what could you afford to spend?

Tip 3: Prioritise your channels

Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Even if people don’t like to admit it, one reason people don’t take sales and marketing in-house is fear. Fear that by taking it in-house they will break it. That the in-flow of sales keeping the business alive will cease.

So let’s look at this another way. Consider the marketing channels you currently use. For example: Social Media, Email, Search, Digital Ads, Traditional Advertising, Word of Mouth etc.

Where do the majority of your sales come from right now? Which channels do you rely on sales and marketing partners to manage and run?

Are there channels that represent untapped potential for your business? For example email marketing is proven as one of the most effective marketing channels there is with a typical ROI of £36 for every £1.  What are you doing in this space and are you seeing that sort of return?

Prioritise one of these untapped or under performing channels.  Think about what budget you can afford to redirect from existing committed spend without compromising your existing sales volumes. If you can’t do this, what can you afford to spend in addition?

Done both these things? You have your first step.

Tip 4: Do your customer experience

I read somewhere that I can’t remember that whilst large businesses spend millions on developing ‘marketing leading customer experiences’ small and medium sized businesses are the real kings and queens of it.

It’s not necessarily called customer experience but nevertheless they’ve developed an innate understanding of their customer as they’ve grown their business. They are connected to their customers in a way that big businesses aspire to be.

But it’s also fair to say this is an evolved position rather than a defined one. If you want to scale it you need to define it though. Spoiler alert, it’s not actually as difficult as people like to make you believe.

Carve out time for two half day sessions, get a few people in a room and work through some profiles of key customers and map out an ideal customer journey. It doesn’t have to be a drawn out, expensive exercise but it gives you an incredible starting point. From there you can begin to build your own solution which takes us to tip 5….

Tip 5: Focus on the solution not just the tool

We came across a business recently whose investors were telling them that they needed to ‘get Salesforce’. Another where they said get Microsoft.

Now I’ve nothing against businesses making a strategic decision to align their technology platform to either of these two technology ecosystems. The attitude that this is both the question and the answer when considering sales and marketing technology is annoying to me.

For SMEs it has the potential to tie them into implementation and operational costs that are hard to sustain. This can actually end up holding them back regardless of the possibilities that either technology option offers.

So what do I suggest? Well, first start by listing out the features or functionalities on offer across a range of sales and marketing tools. We can help with this list. Next identify ideas for how these could be applied specifically to your business. At this point you don’t need to concern yourself too much with cost and practicalities. Free your mind to the possibilities!

Now get practical! Which are the most realistic and valuable ideas in the next 12 - 18 months. What goes in the bucket ‘in the next 5 years ideally’ and what’s left in the ‘some point maybe in the future’ bucket.

This simple exercise gives you a starting point for the solution you might want and an idea of the features that are most important to you. For a few hours work you have built an informed view to help you assess the marketplace. From this you can choose a tool based on what you actually need.

If you still choose Salesforce or Microsoft at this point then it’s ‘probably’ the right choice. Anyone that doesn’t will thank me for saving them money.