Start-up Sales Strategy
Companies are tightening their purse strings and it's getting harder to build real pipeline. So, what are some of the most effective techniques to drive the funnel?
This guide provides actionable advice to help your team gain traction.
1. Focus Your Efforts - Find a Niche
You can't please everybody, all of time... In sales, it can be hard to please anybody!
It’s tempting to target a wide market segment and hope that something sticks, but the scattergun approach rarely works. You’re not building credibility, gaining trust, or learning much. Good salespeople hope to be lucky, but they don’t leave success to chance.
There are several ways to select a target market:
You can focus on a particular use case for the product
Pick a sector where you have already enjoyed some success
Choose a market where you know that businesses have budget to use.
Pick an 'industry wide' challenge and engage with it
As a leader, do you really know much about your sales team’s track record? Spend time with them and learn more about their backgrounds .The chances are you'll be surprised how much industry knowledge they have gathered over the years. Use that knowledge and address the sectors they know best.
Once you have defined your target market, focusing on one or two key verticals initially - it’s time to hone your messaging, content strategy and sales methodology. You’ll need a clear message to take to market, some strong content and ideally a couple of good case-studies. The goal is to be seen as somebody who can genuinely add value, rather than 'just another salesperson'.
As a start-up, you'll likely struggle for brand recognition; by staying focused you can soon start to build a good reputation and your leads will start to flow.
2. ICP (Ideal Client Persona) - The client within the client
Who is your buyer, and where are they?
Once you have decided which sectors to target, you'll need to define your ICP.
This section is about getting into ‘nitty gritty’ of what your typical decision maker looks like. ICP or 'Buyer Profile' is essentially a hypothetical archetype around the nature of the person you want to sell to. You're probably going to want to send a different message to a CFO than you would to a VP sales, for example.They also likely have different interests and engage with different content.
If you're lucky enough to have a CRM, take a look at the notes from previous interactions.
Can you pick out any trends?
It's likely that you'll find that buyers in similar roles in the same industry will be part of similar Linkedin groups. Maybe they know each other?
What are they commenting on? Can you join the conversation?
Many successful sales campaigns have come off the back of LinkedIn comments made at the right time – By getting to know your buyer profile you have a much better chance of getting the message (and timing!) right.
3. Get the right tools...
What do you need to pack in the kit-bag?
I’m often surprised to hear that otherwise ‘bleeding edge’ tech firms haven’t really invested in the sales tech stack. Sure, most sales teams (although way less than you would expect) have a decent CRM and we all know that software is only as good as the data within it.
Marketing Automation tools, lead scoring analytics, call transcription, contact acquisition tools, social media platforms etc, etc can all add value.
The options are nearly un-ending, and the good news is that a couple of smart investments can make a huge difference (Lusha.co for example – can provide ROI in days). The point is that a well-armed sales force can mean real competitive advantage. Both in the sales process but also when hiring and retaining top sellers - The best salespeople want the best tools.
A lot of the available products offer free or very low-cost options to get you started and most have no lock-ins so the risk profile is very low.
4.The Learning Zone
Creating a growth mindset
So, you’ve defined your target market, worked out the idiosyncrasies of your ICP and implemented a killer ‘stack’. Well done.
The most important part of getting your sales team firing is to make sure they are engaged and focused on the vision. If you’re a sales leader, you’ll need to inspire them to be their best and then show them how.
Regular workshops to discuss strategies, micro training sessions, one-to-ones etc, all give you an opportunity to encourage your team to grow and develop as salespeople. if they are able to contribute ideas and share feedback, even better. A one-team approach has many benefits, not least that your team will be helping each other to best their best.
The chances are, if your salespeople are learning, they’re thriving !
In summary, sales is about strategy, structure, engagement and a million other things. Use your time effectively, focus your efforts and learn from your mistakes, and you’ll be on the right track.