Lessons from building an efficient sales engine for a growth-stage startup

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While having a great product is a major factor in determining the success of your business, a clear sales strategy is vital to its growth. For many early-stage startups, it might mean moving away from founder-led sales since if you are at the forefront long enough, you may lose focus on the long-term vision and direction. 

From my experiences as a co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of a startup, here are six tips that can help you build a stellar sales team and process to fuel growth for an early-stage startup: 

Hire for the aptitude and attitude

Ask yourself a few basic questions before building a sales team for your startup. Does your business sell products or services? People who can provide services may not be able to sell products. The reason for that is in services, you make a business from agreeing to customers’ demands and then putting a price to it.

However, in selling a product, one is required to say no to a lot of customer’s demands while still being able to sell. So for a SaaS startup specifically, hire team members who can understand your customer’s challenges well, build trust and apply your product in a way that solves their unique problems.

After you have built a team, it is pertinent to keep a check on the performance and hold each team member accountable for their quota. As noted in a Harvard Business Review study, many high-performing sales teams share this trait — they are quicker to terminate underperforming salespeople. About 78 percent of high-performing sales organisations shared that a poor performer will be terminated within a year.

Have a well-structured sales process 

Implementing well-defined processes in your sales will make your employees more efficient, consistent, and accurate both in their roles and their interactions with customers.

Additionally, a sales process that complements your business strategy and customers will allow you to boost lead conversions, close more deals, and ensure consistency in your sales teams’ interaction with the customers.  

Let your sales team focus on closing deals

According to a recent Salesforce study, regular salespersons only spend one-third of their time selling. The majority of their time is spent doing housekeeping duties, such as logging customer information and putting together quotes and contracts.

Therefore, you would require to build up some kind of internal organisation so that your sales team can focus on their sales tasks.

You could use digital tools, if required, that can automate mundane tasks which can eat up the productivity of your team. This will help them focus on what they have been hired for in closing deals.

Customise your market strategy as you expand

Once you have set up a solid foundation and plan to scale up your business by venturing into international markets, it is important to have the right strategy for each one. Every market has a different cultural, business and governmental environment along with distinct customer expectations.

Hence it is important to have the right staff and processes tailored to these specific markets. You could look for locals from the market or someone who has relocated from that area. Additionally, you may hire business consultants in the market, if it falls within your budget. 

Make it a point to personally travel to the country once the restrictions are lifted to become familiar with the culture and attend local networking events to meet the right people. 

In a nutshell, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an efficient sales engine, determining your business goals and hiring the right people with a sound sales strategy in place can be the first step that you can take to grow your early-stage startup. 

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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