What could possibly go wrong??
The light bulb moment happened for me in a small meeting room in our office. For years we had worked hard on growing our sales with new products, exciting marketing campaigns, and both junior and experienced hires. This morning, the sales team met in our little meeting room. After asking them about progress, four pairs of big eyes were trained on me and one blurted out “we have no idea what we are doing”. That’s when I knew something had to change. Dramatically, and immediately.
Wind back. When we started our company I was initially the main sales person in the company. For a while, that was enough, but then came the point when we felt that our product was ready for more users, and that there was more market to cover than what I could handle on my own. That is when we started on the journey to try to go from founder-led sales, to a sales team selling, and oh boy did I underestimate how difficult that would be.
The Founder Passion
Before I go on to share the important learning I made on how to scale your sales efforts, I want to say that there are many reasons why a founder should not let go of the sales function prematurely. One key reason is that, as a founder, you are one of the most passionate advocates of your product. Very few others will run through walls for the success of your business but you. You also possess unique knowledge; the history of the company/product, the product features and why you built them, and the experience of hundreds of sales pitches in the past. These assets are hard to recreate in anyone else, which is why you need a great process.
It’s all about the process, baby
As a founder, you often feel that defining a process and telling your team to stick by it is pointless, or even damaging. You tend to think that the dynamic environment you are in is better served by people who can ‘play it by ear’. Truth is, without a defined sales process your team ends up confused and the work often lacks professionalism. It also does not allow for learning what really works, and what doesn’t.
Defining a good process consists of making lots of small decisions around ‘how we do sales in our organisation’. For example, what’s our elevator pitch? When do we e-mail leads, and…