Among so many uncertainties that small businesses have to navigate, setting up a robust sales engine in place is one of the most critical and entails a lot of complexity. Small teams generally have a minimal scope of error or buffer time while they scale up their business. One strategic error can throw the spanner among the works and drag the business growth.
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Sales is the most important revenue-generating unit and it deserves all the attention when startups or SMB teams build their first revenue-generating engine. While setting up a successful sales system in place can be significantly challenging, careful planning and the right strategy can create a high-performance team that can deliver consistent results. We discuss in more depth how successful teams have delivered great revenue-generating engines and try to understand the formula to crack this.
- Identify and define your business goals: Sales leaders should establish the objectives and goals for the team. What have they set out to achieve? What is their priority? Revenue, Customer Base, Retention, Market Share, or a combination of all these? Having a clear vision early on helps cascade the objective to downstream teams seamlessly.
- Emphasize the company's vision: Founders and business owners should outline a clear organizational vision. All business leaders should adopt the larger organization's vision while they set out to build teams and set processes and business goals. An organization-aligned vision helps bring every team member across teams onto a common mission.
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- Customer Strategy: Any business type (B2B, B2B, B2B2C, others) should have a clear customer strategy. Ideally, business leaders define it for everyone's sake. Who are our ideal customers? How our products or services are going to change their life? How are we going to engage, acquire, and retain them? What capabilities do we need to serve them?
- Build a hiring process: The DNA of the sales team goes a long way in achieving long-term business goals for the organization. Hence, the right sales must be hired in the team. Leaders and managers keep changing, so something person-agnostic like a hiring SOP should be the go-to document for everyone to hire the person with the right skills, experience, and motivation. An ideal candidate would align with the company culture and should be adaptable.
- Create a blueprint for the organization's culture: A positive organizational culture emphasizes the beliefs, values, and rules that the organization believes in and will dictate the behavior and attitude of its employees while engaging with all external parties like clients, partners, vendors, and employees.
- Hire the right team: Finalize your hiring plan, and decide on the team structure. Put out a job description outlining the company's vision and values. Add details of the compelling job description. Shortlist candidates and allow them to go through rigorous screening at times involving owners and founders. It is important to get the right candidates early on and they will be the pioneers and custodians of processes, culture, and strategy building blocks. Skilled, motivated, internal drive and hustling are some essential traits commonly successful employees imbibe to deliver the good.
- Invest in Training and Onboarding: Hiring a great team is only one step in the right direction. Onboarding the team well and training them in the various aspects of the organization like product understanding, sales techniques, company vision, and values are essential foundations for them to excel in a competitive environment.
- Build a repeatable sales process: Once the sales team is onboarded, it's time for them to get their acts together and generate revenue for the company. A defined and repeatable sales playbook helps channel the journey from a prospect to a confirmed customer in the sales funnel. Get the right tools, and develop the key KPIs to track the sales process, and also the communication strategy, process automation, coaching, sales enablement, etc.
- Build a modern sales tech stack: There is a plethora of tools available for managing the sales process. Some teams are known to use upwards of 50 tools as part of their sales tech stack. Using advanced technology like AI can help eliminate repetitive tasks, automate email sequences, speed up communication content, and aid in optimizing sales pitches. Small businesses can extract the best out of modern tools to act as a force multiplier for the scant resources they always have at their disposal.
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- Sales Compensation: A great sales compensation structure helps teams attract the best talent, keeps them motivated, and is also essential in retaining the best-performing salespersons. The compensation structure is generally designed keeping in mind the business goals and aligned to a great deal to the business growth. Another important aspect of great sales compensation and variable pay is to be market-competitive while also being fair and transparent to all employees across levels.
- Track the right metrics: Tracking sales KPIs is no more a hygiene activity. To measure a salesperson's performance requires both quantitative and qualitative metrics to be tracked. Build individual and team-level KPIs to track business and individual performance separately. Some basic KPIs like sales conversion, sales cycle, customer acquisition cost (CAC), retention rate, etc
Establishing a new sales team is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and adaptation. It's crucial to remain agile and responsive to market dynamics and changes in your business environment. Always be prepared to fine-tune your strategies and tactics to ensure you meet your sales objectives effectively. Building a successful sales team and a revenue-generating engine demands a lot of patience, nuance, and effective strategy.