It was the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring except for me, a frustrated new sales leader pouring through ambiguous sales forecasts. The first year of sales management in 2013 felt like Santa gave me the games of Chance, Yahtzee and Clue to forecast with. I was building a new region with 2 out of 6 reps hired and running with my pants on fire that year playing both rep and leader as we built the team. That is until I discovered a better way to trust opportunities in the pipeline through Completion Metric Forecasting. What’s the point of sales forecasting without accuracy anyway?
“Completion Metric Forecasting gave me freedom to trust the process and focus on enabling my sales reps to reach their highest levels of performance vs. task management.”
If you’re feeling the same roller coaster in your business that I was, watch this video to learn how I implemented Completion Metric Forecasting within the Hubspot CRM. There is a tested, methodical approach that generates more consistent revenue vs. leaving the forecast to a chance percentage!
ELIMINATE THE STRESS & HEADACHE OF SALES FORECASTING HERE:
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Client experience starts from the moment a consumer engages with your brand. This is why establishing your start up’s brand identity early on is important to effectively compete within the high tech industry. So how can you create a marketing plan that doesn’t break the bank within the first 5 years of your company’s existence?
I recommend the following 8 Easy Startup Marketing Strategies You Can’t Miss if you want to defeat your competition.
1. Align Marketing Strategy To Business Goals
The easiest way to start to define your startup marketing strategy is to work backward from your specific business goals. Aligning to S.M.A.R.T. goals in your marketing plan enables you to ensure your efforts are being prioritized correctly. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of marketing and promoting your business as most owners and founders hold such passion to what they are bringing to market. Take your time to get this one right early on to avoid future missteps.
If you haven’t identified specific, measurable and attainable goals, use our S.M.A.R.T. Goals worksheet (download here).
Example: Increase our organic search ranking from #12 to #1 using keywords, Kubernetes Security by the end of the quarter optimizing content.
2. Use Buyer Personas To Identify Your Target Audience
These help you identify what your potential customers are experiencing within their current roles and markets. In return, a buyer persona helps you identify how you’ll help solve your customer’s problems to minimize the risk of marketing our services vs. marketing how we are helping our target buyer.
Download our easy to use template within our FREE Toolkit here to identify your ideal buyer’s background, demographics, identifiers, goals, challenges and how your tech startup’s solutions can help them.
3. Solidify Your Brand Message
Do you have a consistent elevator pitch, tag line that speaks to how you are solving problems within your marketplace? If not, this is a perfect time to identify these important aspects of your brand. In some start up environments, the executive team struggles with coming together to a common vision. This can be detrimental to partnerships so to avoid this I recommend having a third party host a Branding Workshop to help your organization work through some of these potential identity issues.
4. Leverage Social Media For Both Sales & Marketing
This is an inexpensive way to connect and share relevant content through your startup marketing program. The key to social media is to follow the 80/20 rule to ensure you are posting a variety of content consistently and only spend time on platforms that make sense for your business. For example, it may not make sense for you to market on Facebook if you’re selling a highly technical solution in a B2B environment. It does, however, make sense to regularly post and contribute on LinkedIn. Here is a quick outline of various levels of social media content you can use to share thought leadership and grow your brand.
80% posts should be educational content to your audience. Only 20% of your social media content should promote your business.
5. Host Virtual Events
Online events have become the marketing test of 2020! From virtual coffees, happy hour events to exclusive virtual cooking demonstrations and celebrity concert events, this year has proven that the human need for connection is very much alive. As our world post-pandemic continues to favor remote-based activity, we’ll need to continue to connect with our customers and buyers on various platforms. Creative ways to build community through virtual yoga sessions, exclusive executive peering events have never been easier through the power of teleconferencing!
Some low-cost options:
Consider starting a virtual meetup around your technology area of focus
Virtual coffee or industry book club meetings
Offering an online workout to promote health & wellness
Free tech bootcamp class to your professional community to help prepare guests for a specific technology certification
6. Content Is King
Content comes in many forms from blog posts to downloadable whitepapers, social media posts and video. You can create content as a company. If it makes sense for your business, leverage the power of user generated content.
Example – If you are a SAAS company that offers endpoint detection, hold a capture the flag event or bug bounty content to get users to engage with your team. This can be wildly successful and depending on the nature of your company’s focus may create viral brand awareness and lead generation.
Content takes time to publish so ensuring you are optimizing SEO within articles, adding alt tags to images and other ways to maximize your search rankings will result in a positive ROI. Make sure you start this early within your marketing program as it is not an overnight process.
8. Don’t Be Shy, Ask For Referrals!
Implementing a marketing and sales process that asks for referrals along the buyer journey is critical. Automating this around various touchpoints such as a renewal, post sale or after a particular project milestone will help you gain referrals from many different customers.
If you’d like brainstorm go to market strategy ideas please reach out for a free consultation or sign up for our weekly sales tips at www.relativitysells.com
As a founding member of a tech startup you have more than likely been handling sales among countless other duties and quite frankly getting burned out. Is it time for you to get out of the sales role and focus on your business instead of run the internal hamster wheel? Making the right moves in your business to ultimately scale your revenue is critical to grow. Take a look at our recommendations we encourage our clients to consider when deciding the best time to expand to a formal sales team:
How Are You Developing Business Today?
Evaluate what is working well to acquire new clients. Are you able to acquire new clients easily as a founder or is the sales cycle complex? Imagine freeing your schedule to focus on the business instead of in every deal!
Often, our clients have built their businesses off of referrals which got them through the initial experimentation phase. Now it is time to assess where you may need help so you can grow with the right resources. If you’re transitioning from surviving solely on referrals to creating inbound marketing activity and hiring a sales team, it is a great time to put together a marketing plan which we discusshere.
Net new business acquisition requires a successful marketing program before hiring a sales team as it is extremely difficult to sell without an established brand identity. Worst thing would be to hire a sales team too early only to experience rep churn could cost you over $100k per rep in sunk costs.
Are You Ready to Support & Enable A Sales Team?
Many entrepreneurial sales environments rely on cold calling, networking and driving a bunch of “activity” then experience lackluster sales results. Activity does drive results however your business needs to encourage repeatable activity to drive the right results that will impact your bottom line and connect with your target audiences in a meaningful way. Before we dive into more detail let me outline a scenario:
Hiring The Rockstar & Expecting Performance With No Microphone
A. Johnny is a new rep and doesn’t have any training on your products or services and you hired him because he is “an award winning IT sales professional”. You expect that Johnny will open his rolodex of contacts and tell them how great your company is and in return hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollars in revenue will be magically booked right?
Believe it or not, this idea still exists even though we know as sales leaders this is far from reality. Your sales team needs to be enabled correctly to perform well. When considering the best time to start a sales program, think about your organization’s ability to support a sales team.
You Might Be Ready To Hire Sales If:
1. You Have A Clear Value Proposition
What problems are you solving? Your sales reps will need to act as brand ambassadors initially if you’re just starting out in a marketplace to gain traction of desired activities. Sales leadership must effectively train and provide opportunities for new sales reps to understand and become proficient with your offerings so that they can act as trusted advisors to your customers vs. reciting a stale sales pitch.
In this world of Digital Transformation 2.0 customers have usually identified their problem, understand your competitors before they reach out to you and have many similar vendors to choose from in any given area. You must be ready for a more informed consumer and ready to solve for your customer’s perceptions of themselves.
2. Current Sales Results Point Back to Repeatable Activity
If you’re not sure how you arrived at your current revenue and want to hire a sales rep to test out new business development activity, it is important to set expectations and give them the first year ramp time to test the market for you. Getting in front of your target buyers will vary between businesses so understanding which activities drive the best results will come from a bit of trial and error. Successes should become evident quickly for your business to rinse and repeat. (Activities may include: Networking, calls, webinars, focused thought leader group participation, dinner events, etc.)
3. You’re Ready To Focus On The Business Instead of In The Business
Did you develop your business from the ground up, perhaps engineering the original product that started your dream business? Trusting your organization to be represented by a new individual can be a scary concept for founding members. Rightfully so! You put your blood, sweat and tears into it during the early days to get it off the ground. If you’re ready to share your solution and industry knowledge and truly mentor someone to represent your business in the best light then you may just be ready to focus on leading the business vs. bringing every deal across the finish line.
4. You’re Ready To Create A Consistent Sales Process To Drive A Repeatable Revenue Forecast
A great sales program starts with process and tool that will enable you and your sales team to effectively set goals and communicate revenue expectations to the whole organization. What tools do you have in place today to forecast business, find new contact information, track marketing and sales activity performance?
Identifying a sales processwithin a CRM tool is incredibly helpful to create consistent sales process that grow repeatable revenue, encourage consistent client experience thus driving high client retention and complete business health visibility. We happen to be fans of tools like Hubspot for innovative tech businesses due to their integration capabilities, automation features for both reps and marketers.
If you’ve answered READY to these questions,
Hire an experienced and collaborative sales leader to coach and enable your sales team toward higher revenue achievement. As Digital Transformation 2.0 continues it will be equally important for your chosen sales leader to be adept at working with marketing and help bridge any gaps as the goal is to enable buyers to do business with your organization not operate in linear silos which many sales organizations still do today, causing conflict.
Not ready to hire a sales leader full time or long term? Don’t worry we’re designed to help you in that very case. Learn more about our Fractional Sales Leadership packages at Relativity Consultinghere.
News headlines of COVID-19, rioting, and layoffs popped up on my news app as it just seemed that everything in our country was starting to collide. At least that’s what the news wanted me to think right? Was this really the best time for me to take the plunge and start a business? There has never been the best time than to listen to your heart and follow your passion to help others.
My heart knew that after 15 years of professionally selling over $50M in revenue as an individual contributor and sales leader for various software, IT, and cybersecurity firms, I had to share my knowledge with other businesses trying to get to the next level.
Not every business has the luxury of a Fortune 100 marketing budget, a team of 20 marketers and VC backed sales comp plan to grow. It’s ok!
You don’t need a large team when you’re trying to scale a company from 50 or fewer employees to 100, 250, 500 employees but you do need to master the 3 R’s when pivoting your sales strategy. Let’s dig into them a bit further:
Reality, Response and Revenue
Customers do business with companies they trust. Your first sale with a customer is usually your smallest so the reality is, if you take care of your customers, provide consistent value, they will take care of you. If you haven’t been keeping up with your clients, not focused on building longterm relationships and treating customers as transactions then I’m afraid you’ll see those results and will need to perform a bit of sales rehab to turn the ship.
Has COVID-19 has shed some light on parts of your business that you didn’t really want to see? Lack of sales process, unfocused brand identity and focus can lead to dismal sales results for any business. You’re not alone if you’re experiencing this.
Has your pipeline dried up since the pandemic hit? If you aren’t one of the fortunate industries to see an increase in sales during the pandemic then it may be a great time to go back and examine your go to market strategy. How are you connecting with buyers to ensure they are seeing you as an industry authority? Using a combination of sales and marketing tools can give you the response plan needed for rehab.
At Relativity Consulting, we partner with our clients in the tech industry to help implement the right growth solutions to overcome their revenue challenges. You’ll find us use a combination of branding workshops, market research analysis, sales coaching, and enablement to help our clients reach new levels of revenue achievement.
At the heart of our business is love for our clients and the love for our country. We believe that innovative, tech startups can weather this storm, successfully cut through the highly competitive marketplace and come back stronger than ever. Get to know us by subscribing to our blog or reach out for a free consultation to discuss your need here.