There comes a point in the growth of any business when the founder realizes they need help to scale their revenue to the next stage.
That is when all too many companies buy into the mythology of The Closer; an individual who will come in to magically boost your sales and massively expand your business.
When you think about it, it’s absurd to think that somehow you will switch from a founder-based selling regime to this magical human – with no program, no support, and no operations behind them – and you will scale up. It defies logic.
The moment when you realize you can’t do it all
I’ve been a founder-seller, so I know how this situation works. In the initial stages of the life of a business, you’re just trying to make revenue.
That leads to certain realities:
· At this time you’ll take revenue from virtually anybody who can write a check, not least because you haven’t discovered your niche yet. That isn’t an issue – you’re simply trying to keep the company going and to pay all the bills.
· Because you’re taking all the calls and making the sales, you probably aren’t spending much time writing down and thinking about your sales program. Your CRM discipline is poor, if it exists at all. There’s no real process, system, or revenue program being developed.
· Your revenue is coming from friends, your network, or warm referrals, and maybe some partner relationships.
We work with founders who have reached this point, with a focus on tech-enabled B2B services businesses. The founder has grown the business to the stage where revenue is in the mid-six figures, which proves there’s a product-market fit – but their sales have plateaued and they want to scale up. They don’t want to be in “the sales seat” forever because they want to run their business as a CEO.
The two mistakes founders make when they want to scale
Many founders who have carried out the sales to this point are now reluctant to stay in the sales seat.
I’ve watched so many startups spend $100,000 on coaching and consulting that completely missed the point – that the founder didn’t want to be on the phone selling and needed someone else to do it.
They performed the selling function because they needed to while the business was getting off the ground, but now they’re seeking help in sales to take them to the next stage.
That’s when they do one of two things:
· They appoint somebody to work full-time on the phones, The Hungry Hunter. A junior sales development representative who will go out and – ostensibly, somehow – make sales happen.
· They spend big on a VP of Sales, risking a large chunk of their current revenue on the possibility that this magical closer with an impressive list of contacts will come in and make sales right away.
It doesn’t happen. In both cases, it doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is that there is no program in place, no playbook, and no infrastructure to support that sales function.
The founder hasn’t worked with the marketing team to position the company and have materials in place to enable sales. Up to this point, they’ve been doing brute force personality-based selling from the founder’s seat and haven’t prepared the actual operations necessary to help any other salesperson.
You need sales operations to be able to build your sales
You won’t scale your sales until you build your sales operations. At least 80 percent of the work that makes sales happen goes on behind the scenes.
The essence of what we do at Add 1Zero is that we come in and close sales and make you money – but we also build a sales operating program, your entire revenue division. You get all of the systems your company needs to ensure you hop quickly from those mid-six figures to the mid-sevens.
Our first two months with a client are critical
When we start working with a client, we all want to get on the phones as quickly as possible to start closing money – which makes everyone feel good. However, the reality is that we need to get everything out of the founder’s brain because the whole revenue operation, such as it is at this stage, exists only in their head.
It’s an essential piece of work for us, as is embedding with the client and making key connections within the business. The most important connections are between sales and marketing, and sales and operations – as well as with finance.
We are insistent about this, and sales can’t exist in a silo. If it does, you are setting yourself up for failure because your salespeople will start selling whatever they want – which will lead to friction with the delivery teams and marketing.
As the founder of a business, it’s up to you to create a culture in which everyone works together.
Because the sales team speaks to your customer more than anyone else, the feedback from all those conversations is ongoing customer discovery, and the results must be shared with the whole business.
You can do marketing studies and surveys, but the sales team is having discussions with real humans every day who are thinking about buying your product – and in so many organizations, that massive business intelligence source is falling off a cliff.
Capture all your sales calls, find out what questions were asked and which objections were raised. Then, work together with marketing to use these insights as content prompts for the website, produce supporting materials, and pre-answer those prospects’ questions.
That means when prospective clients talk to your sales team, your people don’t have to spend time on one-to-one education because your marketing team did the one-to-many. The number of one-call closes increases thanks to that simple exercise.