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Enterprise Sales Process: How to Build a Startups’ Sales Strategy

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I see this almost every day. A promising startup has landed its first few big customers and leveraged them to raise seed capital. Now, the company needs to scale up, start marketing and build a sales team. Oftentimes, this means opening the US from a few thousand miles away.

Building your first enterprise sales process is a challenge. Many entrepreneurs turn to domain expert salespeople and expect them to sell with no process to follow, no targeting, and no marketing. Why not? The CEO of the company found that selling wasn’t too challenging. All they needed to do was get in front of buyers, tell the story of the company, then the buyers would move forward. This spray and pray approach always leads to failure.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to avoid when building your first enterprise sales process. 

Building Your Sales Process: Charisma Doesn’t Scale

Founders can sell their product to anyone, because they have lived and breathed the software to build it up from nothing. Just because you, as a founder, can close a deal doesn’t mean an average (or even above average) salesperson can close a similar deal. Sadly, you are not scalable so if you want to grow, you need another approach.

Do Test and Quantify assumptions about your market and targeted buyers

The antidote to hero sales dependence is building a clear sales process. Test different targeted buyer personas, different markets and different approaches. Basically, you make some guesses about who your buyers are, what messages work and run test campaigns to gather data. You then use that data to build a picture of who you are selling to, what problem drives them to you, what industry they are in etc. This foundation is critical to onboarding sales executives quickly who can’t always rely on your experience.

Building your sales process with the right people: Don’t hire expensive “top gun” salespeople

There are certain traits that make a good salesperson, like experience. However, a salesperson without a process to follow is like a hiker without a map. 

“Top guns” will get lost, frustrated and will eventually leave the company, costing you lots of time and money.

Do hire ambitious hungry people in pairs

One of the companies we work with has built such a clear sales process that they recruit their sales from local fitness centers. They hire young ambitious people who were selling gym memberships and turn them into software salespeople. Now, I’m not recommending this for everyone, but if you build a solid process then why not.

How do you know if your process works? Hire in pairs, so you can compare the two. If they are both failing, then either your recruitment or sales process is bad. If only one is failing, then go back to the notes you took during the recruitment process to understand the difference.

Building an enterprise sales process isn’t rocket science but there is a science to it. It’s the scientific method of testing and collecting data to build a solid process on which you can scale up your sales organisation.  

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