Sales consulting can help you with the transition to get from founder-led sales to a repeatable sales process for a sales team when you want to reach the next level with your startup.
If you’re like many startups and SMB, the sales and marketing functions are probably led by the founder or president. While this can be highly effective in the start-up phase, when the business is relatively small and tightly knit — it can become problematic as the business grows. When you have a founder sitting in front of their customers they can be incredibly powerful, but only for so long. There comes a point where they can’t be in so many places at once and they should be working on the business rather in the business to get it to the next level and establish it.
So, there comes the time in every successful founders live when they ask themselves how do you transition from founder-led sales to a full-time sales force? What should you look for in a professional services firm to help you establish and maintain this critical function?
I feel you, this is not easy especially since the best salespersons are usually the founders themselves. They have not only sold their products and services but sold their company to investors and employees to provider their respective resources to work on their baby, to join their pirate ships, to make their planes fly.
A sales consultant can help you develop a sales process that is repeatable and scalable, and when engaged long-term as a sales advisor and aligned with your growth goals also efficiently train your newly sales team on how to generate more revenue. A great sales consultant will help you to close more deals, free yourself up to work on the business, explore new opportunities and grow your business.
What is Founder-led Sales?
Founder-led sales: The founder is responsible for converting leads into paying customers. This involves reaching out to leads, providing them with information about the product, and helping them to trial the product. Once a lead is converted, the founder will sign them up for a paid plan. As the business grows, so does the amount of work the founder has to do to sign up new customers. Eventually, it becomes impossible for one person to manage.
The need for salespeople arises. A natural transition point occurs when one or more part-time salespeople are brought on board. These individuals have expertise in selling the same type of product you do, and, like you did when you were starting out, they convert leads into paying customers and provide high-level customer service. As the business continues to grow, it becomes clear that hand-holding part-time salespeople and doing all of the closing yourself is not a sustainable solution. It’s time to formalize a dedicated sales team whose sole responsibility is converting leads into customers. But putting this plan into action doesn’t always go as planned..
Many startups go through this sales workflow evolution. Advising startups, I’ve witnessed this pattern again and again as we startups as well as 'mature' businesses.
How to think about building a sales team
Many startup and mid-market entrepreneurs think of their sales team as simply comprising the individuals responsible for sealing the deal with a customer. However, this isn’t a sufficient model for building a full-scale sales team nor an account management team capable of scaling with your growth.
You need to fully understand the role that each personnel type needs to fulfill in your sales process—from developing a prospect list, to closing, and beyond. The role of the founder in sales is different than that of a full-time inside sales rep. Maybe they will ask you for an SDR – a sales development rep. And as you build out your dedicated sales team, you will realize that maybe this is what you yourself wanted in the first case: An SDR who qualifies leads for you and set up appointments so you spend less of your time prospecting and more of your time selling, and that means you’ll be able to close more deals and scale profitability as a result, or do the same amount of deals but are now free to work on other initiatives that will take your business on the next level.
And as the sole owner and entrepreneur of your business, you might find that cannot simply downshift into an operator role when it comes to selling and you will inherently be involved forever. Then an SDR comes in handy.
How to think about getting expert help for next level sale success
After your first few sales, your first 10 early adopters, or your 100 true fans your sales growth has gotten a bit bumpier. How do you get to that next level? With a solid sales team and a proven sales process?
Yes, and we started discussing it above with the role of the Sales Development Representative (SDR). At this stage developing a sales process will top every other strategy from trying to outsource sales to buying leads.
Get professional sales consulting services if you are too busy to develop your sales process yourself, want to accelerate the process, are not quite sure on how to , or suspect you lack the perspective necessary to maximize results with a sales team. Hire a good sales consultant that excels in listening first and then offers tailored recommendations. Tailored advice accelerates progress and reduce stress with your sales people and every sales person knows that the most important quality for a sales person is empathy: therefore they should be excellent listeners!
At this stage you want to avoid getting professional lead generation services. You don’t want to put your foundation and future growth at risk by low-quality lead generation services.
A sales consultant can help you build a sales process that is tailored to your business and can help you recruit and train a sales team. They can also help you establish KPIs and metrics to measure success.
Ask for recommendations from your trusted advisors like your CPA, attorney, or another entrepreneur and fellow founders who haveexperienced business growth.
You don’t want to add another layer of complexity to your sale process just yet but simply things by using the right tools that leverage what you already do. The ultimate goal is to optimize and automate your selling efforts so you can move from founder-led sales to a repeatable, predictable sales process that frees you up for other important business tasks.
Any time you add or change a selling task, it has the potential to disrupt customers, top performers, or even your own schedule. Keep the disruption to a minimum by implementing only those selling activities that consistently produce revenue and achieve goals.
What Are the Benefits of Sales Consulting?
Sales consulting can help you take your business to the next level in a number of ways.
Develop a Repeatable and Scalable Sales Process
First, a sales consultant can help you develop a repeatable sales process. This process should be tailored to your specific business and industry, because how people buy is very different from industry to industry and the buying process in itself could be the innovation, that growth strategy – or growth hack if you will – that differentiates your business from your vertical market competitors. So engaging someone who is able to create proven processes, has enough tactical empathy for your customers and for you and then maybe even is creative enough to see new ways in your industry is a valuable trifecta.
This new sales process should be something that your sales team can use on a daily basis to generate results right from the get-go. This makes the prerequisite of special tools and systems, like a CRM, inevitable. Although there are mere but tools, you don't want your sales team to neither having to invent a hammer themselves, bring their own, or all of them using different devices from rocks to their bare hands to drive the nail into what makes that contract close. You must provide them the tools and let them focus on generating revenue.
Build a Robust Sales Pipeline
Second, a sales consultant can help you build a robust sales pipeline. This pipeline should be designed to help you consistently manage or even generate new leads and eventually close more deals; or at least the same amount that you as a founder when doing sales yourself did.
Implement and Test Sales Strategies
Third, a sales consultant can help you implement effective sales strategies. These strategies should be based on data and should be designed to help you increase your close rate and grow your business overall. This is kind of consulting usually takes the form of coaching and advising your sales team, your VP of Sales and the entire leadership team.
While sales consultants and sales advisors are both tasked with sales strategy, it is usually the sales advisors who will also make sure that these strategies are not only implemented (and not left to chance or the bottom drawer), but also validated and then iterated upon. In iteration it is, where the escape velocity will be found (at least that’s what Yoda would say).
Ultimately, a sales advisor will provide you with the knowledge and strategies and implementation of the tools and resources you need to build, maintain, optimize to make your sales effective and efficient and will be the intricate part that will grow your business.
So basically while sales consulting can provide a number of benefits to business, perhaps most importantly, it can help businesses to increase sales and grow their revenue, i.e. collect the resources from its environment to be able to fire that evolutionary algorithm of finding and optimizing fitness
Sales consulting can help businesses
- to improve their sales processes, making them more efficient and effective.
- By Improving sales performance by developing new sales strategies.
- Increasing efficiency by providing training and support for sales teams.
- By providing expert advice and guidance on how to improve sales methods and processes.
- to identify new sales opportunities and to develop strategies for exploiting them.
- to develop sales strategies by conducting market research, analyzing data, and developing plans to target specific markets.
Measure Sales Performance and Iterate
As with every process: measure performance carefully and iterate accordingly.
And that is the most important value your consulting partner, your sales advisor, your fractional VP of Sales can bring: to be as flexible on implementation and iteration as you were as a founder, but with a more structured approach. Implementation and iteration of your strategy will go beyond proven strategies and best practices. When you transition from founder-led sales to a full time sales force, you will want to look for sales consulting firm that keeps that leverage you build as a founder leading sales yourself, but you have realized that in the tactics that helped you get there, that helped you reach escape velocity are not the tactics you need that brings your company to the moon.
Training and Coaching
Additionally, sales coaches can provide training and support for sales teams, helping them to better understand the sales process and how to close deals.
Choosing a CRM and Leading Implementation
Many pages have been filled with comparisons of Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM), and that can get pretty overwhelming, pretty fast. But don't worry, choosing the 'wrong' CRM will most likely not make or break your business and you can switch later to a more suitable system when you have the processes in place. A CRM is nothing more than a tool.
An sales consultant can help you point in the right direction and sometimes even do the implementation for you. You might want to choose a system integrator though, as a CRM consultant - just doing that job of CRM integrations - should be cheaper than a sales consultant. Overseeing, planning and coordinating a CRM integration initiative would be the job of your VP of Sales or Sales Advisor (see: difference between advisors and consultants) if you have one.
What to Consider When Engaging Sales Consultants
Especially sales advisors or fractional VP of Sales, sales consulting can provide businesses with the resources and support they need to successfully implement new sales initiatives.
Overall every activity should help businesses to improve their bottom line very immediately. Because sales consulting is only a valuable resource for businesses, if it can provide insights, strategies, and support that helps to improve sales results.
Improve their sales performance and operations must be. Therefore leveraging the expertise of sales advisor, businesses must get clear that sales is not marketing, rather sales advisors compliments the task of how to more effectively market their products and services from a revenue generating standpoint – whether that is increased sales, an improved sales processes, or gain access to new markets, or by providing insights on how to reach new customer segments
They can also help businesses improve their sales processes by providing guidance on how to better manage their sales teams and operations.
Sales consulting can help get your businesses on the next level by transitioning from founder-led sales to a repeatable sales process for a sales team.
When you have a top-performing business it might be just the right time to transition from founder-led sales to a sales process that ensures to keep that tight product-customer-feedback loop that was so valuable in informing your product development decisions and most successful marketing strategies. And to build a sales team with a sales advisory that knows what steps to take to ensure your new sales team is operating at its best. All while learning how lead generation can bolster your new sales process to generate enough resources to be able to make new experiments.
And don't forget to ask your sales consultant what process and methodology they use.