New ventures struggle with an absence of sales process
A friend of mine, a founder of an info-graphics maker startup, stopped by our office few days ago asking for an advice.
Her question was quite simple: “How do I improve my B2B sales?”
After acquiring the first twenty business clients, her sales went down and was stuck. She thought that her company’s network was not big enough to expand further, but in reality the problem was more critical than that.
For early stage startups, it is hard to know where to start with sales. It is hard to effectively narrow down potential buyers and manage all pending and prolonged deals up to closing it successfully.
One thing I realized after talking to dozen startups like this was that these startups suffered from not having the basic sales process mapped out. Zolzaya, CEO of CallPro, Mongolia’s fast growing unified communication frontier, who later in this article explains more about managing sales deals, says that “Many B2B startups suffer from exhausting and complex sales cycle or having no automated sales team workflow. Understanding sales cycle and sales team functionality is fundamental to a successful startup. ”
In the photo: Zolzaya Arild, @CallProMN
Selling is a process and sales team should be a fully automated machine. This article will explain a basic sales process that is repeatable and scalable for small startups in a B2B environment.
Setting up the sales process
When you enter market with your innovative product, it never sells itself. You will need tactics and techniques. What can you do to automate your sales process and schematically start acquiring customers with a starter team that is as small as 5 or even 3? Even for startups with limited sales skills and capacity, the following three elements need to be polished to launch a sales campaign:
- work scheme
- targeted pool of customers
Your sales team responsibility model can be simple as this:
1. Pick one person as a cold caller (or warm caller or an appointment maker as we call at CallPro) who would orchestrate the entire sales team from the office. This person should call companies, do an intro over the phone and make appointments. Effective sales calls will elicit more information from your clients. With more focus and increased repeat calls, this person will quickly be able to deal with difficult questions from customers and make engaging introductions.
2. Create sales teams of two people. It is always better if a sales meeting has multiple attendees from your side. This team should go out in pairs and make meetings at companies as much as possible without worrying about calls, intros, and other office duties. Normally two to three sales meetings per day is a good number.
3. Send potential clients links to your website with valuable product information before the meeting. If they are ready to purchase your product, remove all barriers to do so by having all necessary documents for the next steps.
4. Have the following sales deliverables nicely designed and ready:
- Web content
- Discovery questions list
- Brochure (have them properly color printed)
- Demo video content (1:30-3:30 min long is good)
- Name cards
Listen to their problems and talk first. Engage with your potential customer through thoughtful conversation and then gracefully hand over the support documents on how you can help solve their problems. If the potential buyer inquires for Contract Draft or Pricing Proposal upon the first meeting, make sure to have them handy.
Focus on a pool of companies with similar traits
Now you need a target pool of potential buyers. How do you identify them? Potential buyers could be in discovery mode and actively seeking for solutions, or they can just be in pause mode from information overload.
It is always the best to have companies categorized and segmented in order to do an aggressive launch of sales process. You can segment potential buyers by:
- sectors (some sectors are active seasonally)
- company size
- the ones actively spending money on Ads and marketing
- group companies (companies under a mutual umbrella)
Tugsuu, the founder of National Marketing Agency based in Ulaanbaatar, explains that “if you can close at least three deals out of 100 meetings you are doing fine.” Here is the rule of thumb.
1. Focus on a pool of companies with similar traits. For example, your team can go after insurance companies specifically for a time period. That way your sales team will have tigher sales pitch and better understanding of that specific unique segment. Also you will figure out the key industry patterns faster thus closing more deals faster.
2. Acquire the leaders in the segment. It's important to have the same category of companies to have instant confidence in your product when the leader is bought into your product.
3. Potential buyers should be categorized and mapped. This takes away anxiety from your team so they can dive into a big pool of potential customers.
4. Prioritize sales leads to acquire the most profitable deals first. Money is always good for your team’s confidence.
Managing sales process: the first meeting to closing deals
Sales funnels are defined and your sales teams are making meetings every day. How do you manage all the pending deals?
Zolzaya says “the long cycle of B2B sales kills lots of startups. Therefore having your team with an engine like independent workflow is very important.” It takes a rigorous sales cycle of you proposing series of offerings and buyer taking time to develop full confidence in your solution prior to making the big decision.
Zolzaya explains why managing sales process well is important. “Once you narrow down to closing a deal phase, it is also tricky and takes some management. Managing many contacts, having several versions of an agreement or keeping track of dozens of emails can prove to be a nightmare for your team. So it is important to have a collaborative platform that will allow them to have a consistent view of an account at any given time."
CallPro developed a custom Sales Lead Management platform for their sales team after trying to adopt dozens of collaboration platforms. By implementing better sales lead tracking, they saw a drastic improvement in their B2B sales from a conversion rate of 2.6% to a whopping 6%.
It is important for startups to figure out what platform to utilize and how to better manage individual sales opportunities to turn leads into prospects in the near future.