Don’t make the #1 mistake of all software houses. To be really successful, you have to take your primary focus away from technology and projects. Do not leave the sales lingering on your “yes, we’ll do it one-day” list forever. It is really important to set up an effective sales process from the get-go. That is, as early as possible.
It’s time you realized that sales matter. The sooner, the better. For starters, spend a week, or just a couple of days calling your customers, and work out the best way to communicate with them.
This way you will get a practical idea about the hurdles they’re trying to overcome and will help you realize their typical objections. Finally, there will also be some opportunity to get some direct feedback about your products. You might be surprised how much you can learn and how much input your clients can provide you with before you hit the market big time.
Being a Jack of all trades is ineffective in the long-term
The preliminary outreach phase we are discussing above will help you, the founder, to better understand your customer. For example, you will be able to discover their needs and survey your own marketplace, but also refine your product and develop your sales process as a result.
It is only natural that the founder of a company wants to be hands-on with the sales process and be in-the-know about figures. The owner, after all, should be the best salesperson that your company will possibly ever have, period.
But for hitting the perfect balance between development and sales, a certain well-oiled structure is needed. Yes, you will need a couple of additional hands. But more importantly, a systematic approach is needed to do sales right. A comprehensive sales process, that is.
So, where to start?
Organize your process into several stages
While every business is different, most follow similar stages of the sales process. It always starts with business development and ends with revenue generation. And it’s as true for new business acquisition as it is for the expansion of existing business.
Divide (i.e. start thinking about) your sales process into stages which roughly cover stages like lead generation, sales appointments, customer care. The typical sales process should look something like:
- Lead generation
- Submitting proposals, winning contracts
- Customer care
A successful sales process depends on two things: establishing credibility and building trust. When these things are in place, you’re making cash. Just keep in mind it’s always all about the buyer. As soon as you make sure your selling efforts are in complete sync with their buying signals and stages, you are on the verge of success.
While on the face of it such advice may sound ridiculously obvious, the important question is: do you actually do it?
Use relevant tools
Implement a simple tool (tools?) and for once start managing your sales processes like a pro. There are platforms like Hubspot (which we use at Briisk ourselves) which are free and nicely integrate with Gmail. Which is where you spend most of your working day anyway.
Yes, your people will be reluctant to embrace it since we are all afraid of changes and like doing things our way. But whichever tool you choose for your company, it’s like with learning a language. Don’t overthink it. Just start using it, and you will be fine.
A sales platform (like Hubspot) can play a vital role in increasing sales effectiveness at your company. A sales platform should cover areas like contacts, email automation, analytics, target setting, and tracking deals. If you are in two minds about the effectiveness of such software, put it through rigorous trials. Assign key pilot users who understand it best. If these key users are happy with it, make them evangelists of the tool in your company.
Apply proper metrics to see where you’re underperforming
Set up metrics you want to keep an eye on and pinpoint weak parts of the sales process. Three metrics is a completely reasonable amount (there is no need for more, really). You can choose from:
- Conversion rate
- Win rate
- Cross-sell and Upsell Opportunities
- Percentage of sales rep time spent selling
- Sales ROI (COST OF SALES TO REVENUE RATIO).
A clearly defined set of sales effectiveness metrics adds a layer of visibility to the project. Sales leaders can then easily check in on these metrics to gauge the progress of sales effectiveness at the company… And work on the necessary areas.
Start looking for new team members once you know what and how to measure. Start with customer care, then sales representatives, finally lead generation specialists.
1. Lead Generation Specialist
You need someone on your team to find potential customers in the target market. This person should not only be responsible for research, but also for creating relevant processes for other lead generation specialists (who can be implemented later on).
2. Customer care
Depending on the nature of your product or service (some businesses do not need such people at all), you may need a person to take care of customers once the salesperson has converted them into buyers. Such individual will meet customers and support them along the process of integrating the product or service.
3. Systems and Process Expert (optional)
You need someone on your team to work directly with the Lead Gen Specialist and Sales Person to create a sound structure of systems and processes for the entire funnel. This individual should have a systems-driven mindset and a love for planning.
4. Sales Person
This is someone born with the phone for hand and an incredible gift for conversation. A person who will sell you something before you realize you actually need it. This individual will take over leads that the Lead Gen Specialist creates. They will also be held responsible for the final close of the deal. But whoever it is, to be successful in the new software sales environment, your peeps need to focus on the long-term and look way beyond that single purchase/sign-up.
A comprehensive, full cycle approach is needed for your sales process to be efficient. This applies not only to winning new clients, but also retaining the ones you’ve already converted. Consider the following: no matter how many new customers you are acquiring, if you’re losing just as many existing users (or customers), there is no top-line growth.
Sales processes are there just to help you do it right.