Every now and then, it’s good to comb through old emails to clean out the inbox. Oftentimes, you can stumble across an old email that may bring back some memories. A company email from March 2020, the start of the pandemic, certainly brought back memories.
The email talked about what a crazy time this was and how we had to do our best to get through these next few months (a bit of an understatement). It highlighted things like working from home as much as possible, keeping in contact with team leads, and prioritizing mental health.
One thing the email didn’t highlight was our internal decision to hire a marketing and sales team. Our business model had always relied on referrals and personal connections and with almost 30 years in business, we had done pretty well relying on the phone to keep ringing.
But what about during a pandemic when businesses were downsizing, the unemployment rate was rising, and everything was clouded with uncertainty? Could we rely on the phone to keep ringing?
Hiring a Sales and Marketing Team
In March of 2020, our executive team decided we needed to take a different strategy for clients and leads. The decision to hire a sales and marketing team was green-lit.
But, we had no real playbook. In truth, no one did. No one had ever run a business during a pandemic and with the economy being on the verge of collapse.
Not having a playbook meant we were just going to have to write our own. One of those playbook items was changing our approach to be more aggressive in our attempts to go find clients.
That March, we hired our first salesperson and then followed that with two marketing hires in May. Throughout the summer, we brought in a marketing director, another salesperson, and a chief growth officer.
This team and strategy were completely new to us. And the truth is, it was quite scary. While most businesses were looking for places to cut expenses, we were adding on team members and all the expenses that come with hiring new employees.
Hiring During a Pandemic and Trusting Our Hires
Hiring during a pandemic was certainly going against the flow. We had a simple goal in mind: find good, smart people we could trust.
Our client outreach model has always been around the idea of being a “half geek and half-human”. So we looked for the following qualities in people:
- Proven experience in their field.
- People looking for a challenge.
- People that could work with little supervision and direction.
- People that took the initiative.
- People we got along with.
They ended up coming from many different avenues.
Our marketing director came from a past client’s referral. Our first salesperson hire came to us looking for a more flexible schedule. We found our SEO specialist through Indeed.
Since we were starting a team from scratch, we needed knowledgeable people that could get started and know where to start. We didn’t have the perfect playbook and we were hoping they could help.
In the tech world, there are so many different disciplines and it’s impossible to be a master of all. So we rely on people to be the experts in their field. This required us to take a bit of a step back and let our marketing and sales team work in how they saw fit.
Admittedly, the process was even scarier but by showing trust in our new team, they were able to get started on building our brand and creating leads.
The Results of Our New Venture
In the year since we decided to hire a sales and marketing team, it has proven to be a good move.
- Social media presence-Expanded our social media outreach via LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allowing us to better connect with potential customers.
- Email marketing-Created an email marketing list to connect with current, potential, and past customers.
- Blog and other publications-Started writing blogs and other publications to help increase our web traffic.
- HubSpot-Used HubSpot to help manage leads and sales calls.
Over the last half of the year since hiring our team, we have seen some major improvements.
We saw our organic traffic grow by 55%, our social media traffic by 48%, and our email traffic by 10%.
In addition, our sales team members were able to participate in virtual conferences and meet-and-greets, both locally and around our state to connect with business partners and clients.
We have more leads coming in than we ever have before and are incredibly happy about the process. It was certainly scary at the beginning, but we feel quite confident in where we are now and the future.
What We Learned
With nearly 30 years in the tech industry, we’ve learned to let the experts be the experts in their tech field. Our web designer isn’t going to tell a developer how to do their job. We needed to let our sales and marketing team get to work.
That was hard, especially during an unknown time as the pandemic. It can be hard to “let go” but that’s what we had to do in some areas.
Of course, it always helps to ask questions, hold meetings, and be an open book. But we found that showing trust and encouraging our new team has helped us reach new heights and continue to grow as a business.
JJ Rosen is the Founder and CEO of Atiba Software in Nashville, TN. With nearly 30 years in business, Atiba has grown to offer everything from IT support to digital marketing services. When JJ isn't working, he's at home with his family or dominating the pickleball court.