Supersize Your Company With Sales

We understand what it means to start small and grow fast. We’ve been there, and we know how stressful and rewarding it is to go from scrappy startup to enterprise software leader. Over the past year, our marketing team has also spent time talking to many smart entrepreneurs and small business leaders about what makes them successful.

It all starts with sales. No matter what industry you’re in, or what your growth strategy looks like, you’re going to need customers. And even if your product

is a free app or an online community, eventually, you’ll need a particular kind of customer: the kind who brings in the revenue that drives your business and enables you to grow.

Plan for Growth

This might sound obvious, but many small businesses are so focused on ensuring growth actually happens that they fail to adequately plan for it. Maria Frantz is Vice President of Operations at

AchieveIt, a results-management platform designed to help business leaders successfully execute their plans and initiatives.

“The goal is to grow and scale over time, so what tools are going to get you in the right spot from the beginning?” Frantz explains. “The challenges at the beginning are all about identifying the steps you need to take and then figuring out which tools support those steps in order to scale over time.”

The 5 Commandments of Closing the Deal

The 2015 launch of SalesforceIQ was big news for small businesses. SalesforceIQ for Small Business is an intelligent, out-of-the-box CRM solution that easily sets up in minutes, giving small business sales teams access to Relationship Intelligence technology that takes selling to a new level.

Armando Mann, VP of Sales and Customer Success at SalesforceIQ, has great advice for sales reps looking to close more deals (and honestly, who isn’t ?). According to Mann, successful reps follow the five commandments of closing the deal:

  • Know thy customer
  • Know thy numbers
  • Know thy pipeline
  • Know thy resources
  • Know thyself

To Expand your Pipeline, Narrow It First

We talked with Michael Boyette, Executive Editor at the Rapid Learning Institute, about a sales best practice that seems counterintuitive: to sell more, keep your pipeline lean. “You’d think that a healthy sales pipeline is one that’s full of leads. Research suggests otherwise: lean pipelines generated 48% more revenue than fat ones,” Boyette explains. “The key to a healthy pipeline: disqualify bad leads early, freeing up time to dig deeper with good leads.”

Know When You Need CRM

When you’re just starting out, investing in CRM can feel like a big step. Ethan Senturia is co-founder and CEO of Dealstruck, a financial technology startup that provides loans to other small businesses. According to Senturia, you might need CRM sooner than you think — and here are two key signs you’re at that point.

“If you’re unable to keep up with lead flow or customer demand,” Senturia says, it’s an early sign you need a better system. “If you find yourself being slow to respond to people, or you’re getting lots of inbound follow-up like ‘Hey, I’ve been waiting to hear back from you,’ then you probably need a CRM.”

Second, he says, “if you have real trouble measuring the value of your sales funnel,” CRM can help you figure out which leads are more likely to become actual revenue — and, based on that, where your sales team should invest time and energy. “If you find yourself unable to forecast or understand the value of what your ultimate output is before the output is generated, because you have to make decisions that impact it along the way, then you probably need a CRM,” Senturia explains.

Live in Your CRM

Getting the right tools is only the first step. If you’re not using your CRM — living in it, in fact — you’re not getting maximum value out of your technology. Dave Kurlan, the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc., says salespeople should get cozy with their CRM systems.

“Live in your CRM,” Kurlan advises. “Begin each day in your CRM, identify your pipeline gap and fill it, update your conversations in real time, jumpstart stalled opportunities, follow your sales process. Use email and calendar to support your life in CRM. Live in your CRM.”

“80% of sales teams say acquiring new customers is a top sales objective, followed by growing the value of existing customers and creating deeper customer relationships.”

2015 State of Sales, Salesforce Research

 

Always Be Hiring

In sales, the traditional mantra is ABC — “Always Be Closing” — but for Jason Lemkin, Managing Director at Storm Ventures, it ought to be about hiring.

“If you don’t constantly hire reps, you’ll never grow the top line as fast as you could,” Lemkin explains. “You need to Always Be Hiring sales reps. Once you have an engine going, have faith. Have faith they’ll generate and close the leads. And they will — if they’re great. If your sales team is understaffed, you’ll leave money on the table. A little overstaffed is better. Do that, and you’ve got a chance to exceed your current plan.”

Be Kind 

We’ll bet you’ve never heard this one before. Bret Peters is the Chief Marketing Officer for Fig Leaf Software, a full-service digital agency and solutions integration firm — and in his view, kindness is just good business.

“The world needs more kindness, and oftentimes, busy business people get wrapped up in problems which are largely the result of poor communication,” Peters says. For his business, using a CRM system like Salesforce has helped make clear, effective communication the norm. “Everything about Salesforce supports transparency and measurement,” he explains. “The knowledge and insight a business can gain from the use of Salesforce and Data.com helps everyone in a business stay on the same page.”

How Sales Teams Can Kill It in 2018

It’s time to fine-tune your workflow and sales environment so that you can land more deals in the coming year. Here are some tips on how to revamp your strategy in 2018.

Turn your sales organization and yourself into a learner. “The ability to constantly be learning is crucial,” says Jill Konrath, a small business expert and the bestselling author of Agile Selling, Selling to Big Companies and SNAP Selling. “If I were running a sales organization today, I’d have my team reading books, subscribing to newsletters and getting a steady dose of what’s new and what’s going on.

Simplify your sales process. Find out where people get stuck in making the decisions. If you’re losing people because they’re not deciding to change from the status quo, then you need to look at what you can do to make it easier for them.

Dump distractions. It’s a good time to really analyze your work day and see where you can strip away mindless emailing. Revamp your workflow so that you’re no longer wasting valuable selling time.

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