You’re on a 🚀rocketship.
Things change all the time, and it’s a new company every 6 month.
This trip is not for everyone. But if you enjoy a challenge and want to grow both as a professional and a leader – there’s no better environment.
Below are some big picture observations that might help you understand what’s going on. And suggestions for further reading to understand the moving parts. Go-to-market isn’t an exact science, and there are many ways to scale an organization. But there are best practices that work, and if we don’t have a very clear idea on why we want to do something differently, it might be a good idea to play it safe.
Two different modes
100% of companies tries to scale to early!
To scale something, you need to understand it fully and be 100% clear on what’s working.
But maturity differs a lot between different parts of the organization. Typically new business sales are working well, and you understand 80% of that challenge. But Customer Success and Key Account Management might be new to the organization and need time to figure out the best way to add value both to customers and internally.
So it’s super important to understand that you need both:
- Processes to scale what’s really working, where you have managers and pros that have done exactly the same thing before, and where you know exactly what output you’ll get when you add headcount or resources.
- Agility to figure out new areas of your business where you need to adapt to needs that you don’t fully understand. Here you might need smart generalists until you know who to hire and it’s important to measure progress and experiments instead of optimizing for the wrong thing…
Understanding the customer journey
To really understand who does what (and why) we need to understand the full customer journey; from awareness of our product or service to signing the contract to renewing and expanding. This is also important to be able to budget, forecast and create incentives that makes the whole organization successful.
At the same time it’s important to go deep, and understand the specifics of each part of the journey. And how a successful handover looks like (see below).
- Gong – Here It Is. Your 7-Step Sales Strategy Framework For 2021.
- Jacco van der Kooij – The SaaS Sales Method
- Jacco van der Kooij – SaaS Role Definitions
- SaaStr – How Do I Structure My First 1-25 Sales Reps?
- SaaStr – What is a typical organizational structure for a SaaS startup with sales reps?
- SaaStr – What are some common mistakes when scaling a sales team for SaaS?
Here’s a good video with different phases; ”the one man band”, ”the rock band” & ”the orchestra”.
Each part of the organization focus on a specific part of the journey, trying to identify key moments as well as the best KPIs. For management it’s always a combination of understanding the big picture, as well as the specifics of each part.
A common goal-setting framework like OKR will help.
Note that the exact structure differs between companies; where ACV (Annual Contract Value), sales cycle, the potential for upselling, and other factors decide the best cadence for a specific segment. Note that one organization often addresses multiple segment with different handover points.
5 ways to grow faster 🚀🚀🚀
There’s no secret sauce here. Own your part, focus on the right stuff and put in the effort. From my perspective it’s often a combination of:
- Focus – time and resources are always scarce – so decide where you want to be #1; which markets, which customers, which value proposition, which deals, … Would we rather 10X one KPI or move ten 10%?. Be clear. Execute.
- Velocity – if it’s one thing that makes you untouchable it’s speed. Do what’s right. And do it now. Why next week? Why not tomorrow?
- Standards – if it’s worth doing, do it right! Especially in what you deliver to the customer. To quote Steve Jobs: it’s either ‘insanely great’, or it’s ‘total shit’. There is no middle ground.
If sales motions differ between segments, it’s fundamental that everyone understands the definitions and align. Segmentation is an art by itself, but start out with the basics and iterate from there.
- Hacking Sales – Segmentering (Swedish)
- Point Nine – Building a Sales Engine: Nailing Growth at the Series A
- Intercom – Who’s who: Understanding your business with customer segmentation
- Lincoln Murphy – Ideal Customer Profile Framework
2. Increase leads velocity
Sales run on leads. Make the leads machine hum by a) nail the qualification criteria and b) increase Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR). If you’re increasing the numbers of qualified leads by >10% month-over-month your building a growth engine that will fuel the sales force.
- Hacking Sales – 🔥 Leads (Swedish)
- SaaStr – Why Lead Velocity Rate (LVR) Is The Most Important Metric in SaaS
3. Disqualify early
Biggest mistake every sales force does? Pursuing deals that don’t close. Disqualify early and focus on the deals that you know will close. Not enough deals in the pipeline? Ramp up qualified leads.
- Hacking Sales – 🔥 Snabbare nej i säljcykeln (Swedish)
- Insight Squared – The Importance Of Disqualifying Leads
4. Coach to speed up your sales process
Nail your sales process, measure the essentials, and actively coach your reps with this data.
Decide on what defines ”good” or ”great” and identify the individual gaps. Focus on one thing at a time which each rep to be able to evaluate progress. One hour 1:1 actively coaching (not reviewing deals) is minimum!
Oh, and hire for coachability.
- Gong – The Ultimate Guide To Sales Coaching In 2019
- Gong – Coaching Wins Championships. Here’s How To Become A Legendary Sales Coach With Data.
- Hacking Sales – 🔥 Säljcoaching (Swedish)
- Daniel Nilsson – How to Design a Sales Process for B2B Sales [Updated 2021]
- Daniel Nilsson – How Coaching can Help You Increase Productivity
- Daniel Nilsson – 7 Success Factors for B2B Sales I Wish All Sales Managers Knew
5. Train to be the best
Don’t use valuable customer meetings to figure things out. Integrate training in everything you do; in any meetings, kick offs, deal reviews… There are many opportunities to learn from calls, emails and customer meetings. Learning is a mindset – and a big reason why you attract and retain really good sales people.
- Andy Farquharson – Is your sales team spending enough time training?
- Daniel Nilsson – Guide to a B2B sales training program all companies should design
- Gong – Sales Onboarding: 7 Ways to Ramp New Sales Hires Lightning Fast
More (real) reading
- From Impossible to Inevitable, Aaron Ross & Jason Lemkin
- The Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge
- The Sales Development Playbook, Trish Bertuzzi
- Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler
- Megadeals, Johan Åberg & Christopher Engman
- Founding Sale – The Early Stage Go-to-Market Handbook, Pete Kazanjy
Online communities / resources
- Gong – data driven insights on sales – ”#1 blog on the Internet for sales.”
- Hacking Sales 🔥 – my bi-weekly newsletter on modern sales (in Swedish).
- Revenue Collective – community for revenue-focused executives.
- SaaStr – The World’s Largest Community for Business Software. Best conference.
- Sales Hacker – huge community of B2B sales professionals. Awesome webinars.