In organisations looking to scale, you need a plan and a process to achieve sales – and many companies don’t have this at all.
Structure matters because your business change as it grows. You will likely be marketing and selling new products to customers in a more complex market, working with a larger sales team, and managing a bigger business.
Here’s what you need to know as you devise your sales and marketing strategies:
Who is your target customer?
Most start-ups have a founder who drives sales – and a small number of customers who are ideal. Once you begin to scale up, however, you find yourself selling in much larger volumes, and to many more people. You’re no longer growing incrementally – you’re growing by factors of 200%, 400%, or more.
This means finding new customers, and that requires an efficient plan, starting with determining your target customer(s).
If you know your value proposition, you can explain what you do and for whom. This defines your prospective customer and target market and keeps you from trying to serve everyone at once.
You then need to take the next step and qualify your prospect. You don’t want to waste time or money chasing the wrong customer, and with the right methodology, you can spend a lot more time closing.
How do you qualify? A time tested approach is BANT – Budget, Authority, Need, Timing – but you likely need to choose the one that’s right for your business. Document your strategy for qualifying prospects and work hard to make sure that your team holds to it.
Next, you need to explore how you sell. Most start-ups don’t think about this, but once you rely on salespeople who aren’t the founder or CEO to close, you will need to think about it. Your sales strategy should be documented, clearly structured, and easy to follow. It can be as simple as an infographic or flow chart, and it should show your salespeople how to work with both new and existing clients.
It should answer simple questions like what you do when you meet a prospect at a trade show, what documentation they receive, how they receive it, and at what point you should attempt to arrange a meeting. It’s not complex, but the more refined and dialled in it is, the more effective it will be.
Share this process with everyone who faces customers, so they can set expectations and help to clearly define the customer’s journey from interest to sale.
Additionally, you should share information with everyone in your organisation. Have your most experienced sale staff share their knowledge and insights, and let everyone know when someone makes a breakthrough.
How do you recruit new salespeople?
As you scale up, you will need a larger sales team, but you shouldn’t simply bring on anyone whose CV has the keyword “sales” in it. You need to determine exactly what kind of salespeople you need and what your budget can accommodate for.
You likely won’t have the budget for full time senior sales staff, so you’ll likely be looking for younger, more ambitious salespeople with one or two roles under their belts and a track record of success within them. Or, an increasingly popular option, you can consider get a part (or fraction) of a very senior person such as a Commercial Director anything from 1-3 days a week.
Additionally, as the business grows, the skills and personalities required will change. As you move from start up to scale up, you’ll likely be selling earlier – and need to educate your prospects about what they need, rather than expecting them to know exactly what they want. Once that work is done, they will start asking you for help – and for solutions.
In practice, this means that scale-up salespeople need to be consultants with the ability to engage with buyers, listen to their needs, and an aptitude for solving problems. They will need to be able to excel in non-sales meetings, to listen, to build relationships, and help decision makers realise that you can help them.
What is the relationship between sales and marketing?
As your business grows, sales and marketing processes start to overlap as you educate your customer. In a typical funnel, marketing would generate leads for sales, but this process becomes nuanced and non-linear as your operations get more sophisticated.
Scale-up marketing is considerably more subtle. Outbound marketing as we once knew it focused on ads, mailers, telemarketing and other materials that “shouted” at the recipient. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, provides the prospect with something of value, and naturally and organically leads them through a multi-step conversation – and is much more effective. Don’t think in terms of traditional advertisements. Think in terms of case studies, testimonials, whitepapers, and other assets designed to show your prospects why they need your product and positions your sales team to sell.
How do you nurture new salespeople?
Once you’ve made a new hire, you need a roadmap for their first few months in the role. You need to position them to succeed, not just give them a computer and a list of leads.
Introduce them to your best customers, make sure they truly understand your product or service, allow your best salespeople to serve as mentors, and pay attention to the quality of their work – not the quantity of leads they bring in.
Is your CRM actually useful?
If your sales team doesn’t – or can’t – utilise your CRM, it is effectively valueless. Sales should be an active part of the conversation surrounding what CRM you select and implement.
Once chosen, you need to clearly define your KPIs and your metrics, giving you the opportunity to easily determine what does and doesn’t work. Doing this, plus building a process with defined sales stages and client qualifications, and you’ll have a much clearer understanding of why your sales team isn’t making numbers if and when they aren’t. You can identify problems with your funnel and manage employees more fairly, which reduces turnover and improves morale.