One of the most critical aspects of creating a roadmap for business growth is staff planning. Other than cash flow analysis, it may be the most crucial element.
Without cash, you don’t have a business. Without people, nothing gets done.
Staff planning ensures you have the right people in place at the right time to support forecasted business growth. Hire too slowly and growth is constrained; customer experience may even be negatively impacted. Hire too quickly and cash is burned unnecessarily.
In a post titled What Your First 100 Hires Will Look Like, Jason Lemkin succinctly lays out a structure for growing a SaaS company from one to 100 employees. With a bit of tweaking, his model can apply to any B2B product company, whether software or manufacturing.
The structure of the overall sales and marketing group will vary based on the extent the company is pursuing a high-volume/ low-price model (for example, email service providers or SEO keyword rank tracking tools) versus a low-volume / high-price model (e.g., ERP or business intelligence platforms).
In Lemkin’s model, a B2B company would need four to eight people (depending on much work is outsourced to marketing consultants, freelancer, or agencies) at the 100 employee mark, or roughly the $15-$25 million revenue range.
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff takes a different approach in his Modern Marketing Organizational Structure presentation on SlideShare. He offers a more detailed operational rationale for each phase of hiring, as shown below. However, it’s not clear where functions like email marketing, social media management, influencer outreach, and paid online advertising fit into the model.
Here’s one useful sequence for growing a B2B marketing team from the first hire through a dozen employees (which can scale well beyond the $30 million revenue level).
The First Marketing Hire: Leadership and Growth
Initially, the founder(s), likely working with outside talent (consultants, contractors, freelancers, and/or an agency) will perform all marketing functions, from getting a logo and business cards designed through website development and social presence setup.
Unless there is one founder dedicated to marketing (or marketing and sales), this structure will run into scale issues fairly quickly.
So the first hire should be a marketing executive / growth leader, who can set overall marketing vision and strategy. This individual will coordinate the efforts of outside talent but also need to somewhat “hands on,” at least in the early stages, in areas like product marketing and event management.
The Next Three Marketing Hires: Functions Difficult to Outsource
As sales begin to ramp up and the customer base grows, the company will likely want to bring on a dedicated product marketing manager and email marketing manager (which will evolve into marketing automation as the business’s customer base and opt-in email list expand).
These functions are challenging to outsource as a great deal of internal coordination with team members across the organization is required.
The firm may also want to add a marketing coordinator at this stage, to take care of a lot of detail work around event management and list building that aren’t particularly cost-effective to outsource.
The Next Four Marketing Hires: Cook at Home or Order Out?
At this stage of growth, the company (now at roughly $8-12 million in revenue) is likely quite active in social media marketing, content creation, PR, and graphic design. The marketing team is likely tapping outside talent for most of this work.
If these relationships and the results are working well, a business can continue to outsource these functions almost indefinitely—there are $50 million-plus companies that market effectively without dedicated writing, graphic design or PR management staff.
This is time to do an analysis of costs and other factors and determine which roles, if any, it makes sense to bring in-house.
The Next Marketing Hires: Help at the Top
As a firm nears the $30 million revenue mark, it may want to expand its marketing team at the director level. These roles include:
- Digital marketing: overseeing social media, content marketing, marketing automation, SEO, and paid online advertising programs.
- Sales operations: lead qualification, customer base marketing, and serving as the “bridge” between marketing and sales.
- Analyst relations: managing relationships with industry analysts and analyst groups, possibly combined with competitive intelligence and/or influencer marketing.
- Customer experience: likely the joint responsibility of the marketing executive and product marketing up until now, this function may be turned over to a dedicated role at this stage.
Beyond the Borders
The roadmap above outlines staffing ramp-up for a domestic marketing group. What about international expansion?
B2B companies often expand into new countries through partners such as VARs which have their own marketing teams. If the company establishes an owned presence, the marketing function generally starts with a relatively hands-on country marketing manager and possibly a marketing coordinator as well. From there, the team can grow similarly to the domestic team-building model above.
The mission of the B2B marketing team has changed dramatically in the past decade. These teams are now often tasked with leading digital transformation in established companies, and owning the end-to-end customer experience in startups and mature businesses alike.
New B2B marketing technology tools help marketers perform common tasks more efficiently as well as expand their capabilities. But it’s still ultimately the team that makes it all happen. Careful planning and timely hiring can help B2B vendors maximize growth without negatively impacting profitability.