The Secret Of Startups That No One Is Talking About

2020-08-11 18:33:51

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Opportunities step of the funnel. To get here, leads must meet criteria that indicate they are ready, willing and able to become customers in a given period of time.

To move to the opportunities step, a lead for Crazy Cookies must: Have a budget to subscribe to cookie delivery
Have the authority to make a purchase decision
Be looking to begin their subscription in the next 60 days
Be considering Crazy Cookies (and perhaps other vendors) to get cookies from

By meeting this criteria, a lead becomes qualified. The process of qualifying a lead is critical because we want to make sure we are using our sales resources to talk to people who can actually become customers.

Once someone moves to the Opportunities step, it’s time to involve marketing’s partner in crime: sales. We only want to leverage sales tactics for people that have made it to this step since they are most likely to become customers.

Sales tactics are different than marketing tactics. They often involve a sales representative engaging directly with a person in the opportunity stage. There are a few ways that we can use sales to interact with people in our funnel: 1
Automated sales

Outside sales

Inside sales

Some products are simple enough that a person can go to our website and become a customer without talking to a sales representative. These are automated sales.

Many SaaS products can be purchased online, and of course ecommerce sites fall into this category. Often startups that are B2C (sell directly to consumers) use this model. The big and expensive way: outside sales.
With outside sales, in-person meetings are often a requirement, and our sales team needs to be on the road meeting with people who are in the opportunity step of the funnel. Needless to say, this is expensive and time-consuming.

Outside sales is often necessary when our product is: Extremely complex and requires an in-person demo
Highly relationship driven and requires many meetings
Used by a C-level executive (i.e. CEO)

There are many exceptions where inside sales will also work in those situations. The B2B startup resources ( way: inside sales.
With inside sales, the selling happens over the phone. Thus, our sales team stays "inside" our office and rarely needs to travel to an opportunity’s location.

For many software companies, this model makes the most sense because it is far more cost effective and scalable than having our sales team travel to meetings.

A product with a lower price is often best fit for the inside sales model. However, there are many successful companies that sell million dollar products over the phone. Often, startups will use a mix of inside and outside sales strategies.

Because so many startups use an inside sales model primarily, let’s dig into how it works. Converting opportunities to customers using sales happens in a few steps: 1
Qualify leads

Demo & discover

Engage & solidify

Close customers

Qualifying leads involves speaking to people at the lead stage, determining if they meet our criteria to become opportunities, and if so, scheduling time for them to learn about our product in a sales meeting.

The person who makes this happen is a: Sales Development Rep (SDR)

The SDR is an entry-level sales person who interacts with leads, confirms that they are qualified, shares basic information about our product, and schedules meetings (often a phone call and online demo). More specifically, the SDR: Cold calls leads that have downloaded our ebooks
Follows up with leads that have recently visited our website
Sends our content to people in their network or on social media
Keeps track of every interaction in our CRM

SDRs can often be recent graduates with minimal sales experience. The right SDR is incredibly persistent, aggressive, not afraid of rejection and methodically organized.
Harrison Forman, Sales Development Rep at BrightEdge

"I focus on lead generation and strategic prospecting. It's a super fast-paced environment... my goal is to schedule a ton of meetings with qualifed leads."

Now that our SDRs have scheduled meetings with qualified leads, we need someone more experienced to speak to qualified leads, understand their problems and demonstrate how our product will provide a solution.

The person responsible for making this part happen is a: Account Executive (AE)

The Account Executive is a more experienced sales-person who only engages with qualified leads. Often, Account Executives are former SDRs who were promoted. Their role involves: Discovering an opportunity's problems and finding a solution with our product
Sharing information about our product by doing a live, online demo
Answering questions about how the product works
Navigating legal or bureaucratic red-tape that could slow down a sale

AE’s need to be exceptional at dealing with people, reading emotions and answering product questions. They also need to aggressively follow up in a respectful manner.

An important aspect of the AE’s role is consultative selling. This involves the AE approaching customers not as a sales-person, but as a consultant. AE’s serve as subject matter experts and help people find effective solutions to their problems.

Much of this happens during the sales meeting. For software startups, this is typically a demo where the opportunity can see an AE's screen and walk through the product. Throughout, the AE answers questions and simulates how the product is used.
Spencer Wiedeman, Account Executive at Talkdesk

"Identify pains. Show how life will be better. Consult and enable. It’s all about building trust and helping people taste success."

Note that in an outside sales model, the AE is the person that goes out to meet opportunities at sales meetings. For early startups, one person might play both the role of SDR and AE. This is okay in the beginning, but quickly becomes unsustainable. Closing: the final step to become a customer.
We can't start talking about closing without watching Alec Baldwin's epic and NSFW speech from the 1994 movie Glengarry Glen Ross.

Closing is converting an opportunity to a customer and concluding the journey.
Hopefully most modern sales teams are not as aggressive as depicted in the video.

Closing is an art that requires practice, patience, and some serious people skills. More specifically, the AE that closes needs to: Reiterate solutions to the person's problems

Here, an AE practices consultative selling to ensure people at the opportunity step understand how our product will address their needs effectively. This is the key that moves them to the final step of the funnel. Squash sales objections

People at the opportunity step will always come up with reasons why they can’t proceed to becoming a customer. For example: The product is too expensive
The product is missing a key feature
The decision maker isn’t ready to become a customer yet

Our goal is to address those sales objections and demonstrate why they are not valid. Quickly handle contracts

For a higher priced product (or software that is paid annually), the Account Executive often needs to send a contract to people at the opportunity stage and ensure they sign it to officially become a customer.

Sometimes, there will be questions from their legal department and changes requested for the contract. We want to minimize this since it often prolongs closing. Follow up and follow up again

Throughout the closing process, the AE serves as a cheerleader, reassuring an opportunity that our product will solve their problems. This means following up regularly and providing additional information, speaking to a boss, etc to close. Close and get a new customer

Once we squash any sales objections, get the product approved, and send a contract (or have the person pay online and sign digitally), we have a new customer! Tying it together: management and operations.
Closing takes a team. Behind great Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs), there are people supporting them in management and operations.

The role of the sales manager is to keep SDRs and AEs organized and on-task. He or she is often a more experienced sales-person (who was promoted from an AE) who can coach younger people on the sales team.

The ideal sales manager is a player-coach: someone who is willing to teach and also roll up their sleeves and assist in closing deals. The Sales Manager might initially be the founder, then a Senior Account Executive and then perhaps a VP of Sales.

Along with the sales manager, there are people handing sales operations. They are responsible for: Managing the CRM and ensuring it is up-to-date
Documenting process and training SDRs and AEs on best practices
Analyzing data and analytics to improve the sales process

As the team grows, sales operations becomes more important to keep everyone efficient and productive. Sales tools: eliminating the tedious.
When we are sending out tons of emails and dialing the phones many times each day, startup resources we need tools that can make tedious processes, like data entry, easier. Luckily, there are a wealth of tools available to help our sales team perform. Just a few include:
Sidekick gives your email superpowers with contact insights, tracking & scheduling.

Visit Sidekick

InsightSquared is analytics, profitability tracking and more for Salesforce.

Visit InsightSquared

Yesware is an all-in-one sales toolkit. Track emails, log calls and more.

Visit Yesware

Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox.

Visit Rapportive

Docusign allows you to securely sign and manage documents easily online.

Visit DocuSign

Salesloft is a simple way to build accurate lists of prospects and schedule meetings.

Visit SalesLoft provides free and simple online meetings. Share your screen with anyone.


Chatter connects every employee with the files, data and experts they need.

Visit Chatter

Measuring success: sales metrics.
Just as we did for marketing, startup resources we also need to carefully measure our performance in sales. Tools like InsightSquared, featured above, make it easy to track these metrics. Below are a few metrics that we should track (hover for details).
Deals won
The amount of deals that we close in a period of time. Many of our goals will be based on the total dollar value of these closes.

Deals lost
It is insightful to analyze the deals that walked away from becoming a customer. The reasons they said "no" help us make future decisions.

Sales cycle
The length of time from when we find a lead to when they become a customer. We want this duration to be as short as possible.

Average sales price
The average dollar value of each deal we close. Our goal is to make that value as high as possible by optimizing the price and upselling.

Renewal rate
The amount of customers that renew their contract. It's hard to close new customers, so we want to keep the ones we have.

Closes per rep
The amount of closes from each sales rep. This metric helps us predict growth and can guide us on how many new sales reps to hire.

Alignment: syncing sales and marketing.
Now that we understand how to measure sales, it's important to see how connected it is to marketing. Therefore, we need to make sure that the tactics that marketing uses are tightly aligned with the tactics that sales uses.

If marketing converts 100 targets to leads and then 50 become opportunities, is sales ready to speak with each one and move them closer to subscribing to Crazy Cookies? Does the sales team have the collateral (i.e. FAQs, brochures, etc) it needs?

This is referred to as sales-marketing alignment. To do it effectively, we need to: Have joint, connected goals

Our sales and marketing goals should be planned together. The sales team relies on marketing to bring in qualified leads and the marketing team relies on sales to engage and close. Each needs to do its part to succeed. Open a clear line of communication

The leaders of sales and marketing on our team should be meeting regularly, reviewing progress and discussing any challenges. Develop a Sales-Marketing Agreement

This is simply a clear outline (with measurable goals) that defines what marketing and sales are each responsible for. The agreement might dictate that each month, marketing will generate 100 leads, and sales will reach out to them within 24 hours. Building a sales team?

I'm Jack and I live with my husband and our 2 children in Colla Maffone, in the ME south area.
My hobbies are Board sports, Volleyball and Gardening.

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Didn't need no welfare states. Everybody pulled his weight. Gee our old Lasalle ran great. Those were the days. The year is 1987 and NASA launches the last of Americas deep space probes

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