When we first think of startups, we often think of the founder, or founders: the people who come up with a brilliant idea and turn it into a multi-billion-dollar business. It’s easy to forget about the sales, marketing and other staff who help turn a fledgling firm into a credible organization with all the ingredients necessary for success.
Unlike traditional enterprises that may grow more slowly or via acquisition, however, startups tend to launch fast and grow even more quickly. This not only means they are chronically in recruitment mode, but that they need to be just as focused and strategic in who they’re hiring as they are in developing their business strategy. Beyond the obvious roles – someone to lead sales efforts, for example, or someone who oversees all marketing activities – think early and often about the following areas in order to build the most effective and robust team possible:
This isn’t an actual title but a broad way of describing the analytical strengths that all startups – or companies of any size, for that matter – should have among their ranks. This isn’t just about organizing unstructured information or “big data,” but using whatever tools are available to assess market conditions, capture patterns or trends and get the organization to a point where critical areas can be more predictable. This could include having a better sense of what will close a sale, for instance, or what will drive demand for a particular product or service.
Those focused on data don’t necessarily have to be isolated into a team of their own. In fact, many companies are starting to create data science or analytics roles that are embedded deep within sales departments, marketing departments or even operations.
What to look for:
Yes, you’ll need all the traditional marketing collateral, whether it’s landing page text, brochures, materials for a trade show booth or e-mail copy. Given that they are often new entrants in an existing market or attempting to create entirely new industries, however, startups require more than standard marketing skills.
The most successful startups have a compelling story that can usually be summed up in a single sentence, like “being able to order a taxi on-demand with your phone,” in Uber’s case, or “renting out a room or your home online like a hotel property,” in AirBNB’s. Those stories need to be carefully crafted, however, and spread out to your target market in a variety of different ways. This is essentially what content marketing is all about.
What to look for:
Customer Experience Managers
The big pressure for most startups is getting those first customers – to the point where it may be difficult to also ensure those first customers have a good experience with your products and services. Large organizations set up call centres and other customer service teams, and while startup founders may feel they need to put out most of the fires in the early days, they may discover they’re soon too busy to stay on top of it all.
A customer experience manager goes way beyond troubleshooting or dealing with questions or complaints. They look constantly at the complete journey a typical customer or prospect takes and ensures there are minimal areas of friction that make it difficult to contact the startup, make a purchase or follow up in any way.
What to look for:
Of course, startups should continue to hunt for the best engineers and developers, but staffing these three areas will ensure that all the hard work that goes into developing the next big thing will pay off.
Looking for more tips on hiring? Check out our blog post “The Top 3 Superpowers Startup Sales Reps Need to Have” by Salesforce VP of Sales David Priemer.