I have come across many startup founders & entrepreneurs about having sleepless nights over stagnant and no sales revenue growth despite having a great product market fit. The core reason for this is the mistake most startup founders and entrepreneurs do is - not building an outbound sales strategy or starting building it too late. This is more prevalent in startups having more than one founder. As you start your journey, there is a high inclination to invest & depend heavily on content marketing to generate inbound sales.
Further, a positive response to our inbound marketing results in more delays in working on the outbound sales strategy. Not realizing that many prospects do not take or delay decisive actions in their online search for the solution. And whoever reach them during the period increases the chance to acquire them as paying customer. Remember, your competitors are having an outbound sales team prospecting aggressively for such prospects and they stand a better chance of reaching them than you. This means, that your content marketing is informing & educating the prospects looking for services offered by you as a solution to their problems, but someone else is acquiring them as a customer by reaching them in the evaluation stage of buying cycle.
One of the reasons given by founders for this phenomenon is an unpleasant personal experience of outbound sales and some preconceived notions.
It is a proven fact that a combination of inbound and outbound sales strategies ensures bigger and faster growth compared to only one.
But if you are looking for bigger, better, and faster sales (numbers & revenue) growth then you must consider operating a hybrid sales model (inbound & outbound) for your startup and business.
Starting designing and working on your outbound sales strategy, parallel with your inbound sales strategy is the best way to go about it.
Remember Sales is not rocket science, but it is science. And science is all about processes & experimentation. Do that in your startup/business to get the best output.
Start working on your outbound sales strategy, even when you don’t need it at the moment. This will put you in a commanding position when you decide to go outbound.
So how do you do that?
Start with designing an Outbound Sales Strategy – that compliments your ongoing inbound sales activities.
One of the biggest challenges of having a successful outbound sales team is the hiring of the right salespeople in the team. Hiring takes time, and therefore it is recommended to start interviewing candidates at least 3 to 4 months in advance. Because in most cases they need to serve a notice of one month to their existing employer. The benefit of starting early is their notice period doesn’t delay our hiring plans. And by the time they are relieved from their existing employer, we start hiring them to start our outbound sales activities.
The outbound sales strategy will enable a proactive approach to building an outbound sales team and keep you ahead of the curve.
Similar to any digital marketing activity done as part of your inbound sales strategy will take a few weeks to a couple of months to start generating sufficient leads for you, and the outbound sales team will also take a few weeks to a couple of months to start generating incremental sales.
Following are the key steps of building an outbound sales team:
1. Design a comprehensive outbound sales strategy in sync with your inbound sales strategy.
2. Designing an induction and hand-holding process for the new salespeople.
3. Providing thorough training on the products, sales approach, customer persona, product demos, pricing, competition, targets, incentives, rewards, and recognition.
4. Designing buying cycle and buying process.
5. Providing a high number of MQLs to the sales team.
6. Initial on-field hand holding to each sales team member.
7. Cross-functional bonding, coordination & leveraging of expertise to deliver a delightful experience to the customers.
8. Generating referral/recommendation sales.
9. Reporting, and input data tracking through CRM and other reporting processes.
10. Monitoring, reviewing, training, and updating skills for ever-evolving marker situations.
11. Rewards & recognition.
Many people have bad experiences with the outbound sales activities done by the companies. And this bad experience not only steals outbound sales from you but also reduced a positive response to your inbound marketing. Therefore, it is important that your outbound sales team operates at the highest professional levels and ensures that each prospect interaction is a delightful experience for you both. I can not put enough emphasis on the power of positive interaction and the conclusion of the discussion, it mostly leads to a successful sale.
There are a lot of other people out there who are a good fit for your solution - but who haven't heard about you and so you got to go out and find them and then explore whether they have a pain that's severe enough for them to consider your services as the solution.
To get the best out of your outbound sales strategy focus on the right prospects per your customer’s persona. Build a culture of “research and contact” in your outbound sales team. Invest sufficient time in knowing as much relevant as possible so that you can approach the right people, understand their concerns and provide the most suitable solution. Account-based outbound sales activity is the best way for the highest productivity. Remember, in the B2B sales approach and especially for SaaS selling, account-based selling is one of the most successful ways of selling.
Once you have done the induction, training, and initial hand holding (as mentioned above), ask them to start sales activities and support them with collateral, merchandise, product access, and some price negotiation authority to start the field activity.
The use of technology such as CRM, Mobile app., and similar will ensure easy flow of market & customer information, and daily input activity reporting and will give more time to salespeople on field sales activity instead of working on generating reports. This will also bring in high-quality real-time information which will improve the conversion rates.
Hence, the importance of having an outbound sales strategy and building a high-performing outbound sales team cannot be emphasized enough. Go for a hybrid sales model of outbound and inbound sales strategy to propel your sales revenue and profitability.
A good way to go about building a hybrid sales model is – to start from 10% outbound (founders) + 90% inbound => 20% outbound (founders) + 80% inbound => 30% outbound (founders + sales team) + 70% inbound => 40% outbound (bigger sales team) + 60% inbound => 50% outbound (bigger sales team) + 50% inbound => stabilize around 60% outbound (national/international sales team) + 40% inbound.
Some of the advantages of this model:
1. Founders get the first-hand experience of selling the products/services.
2. Inorganic inbound sales activities build a brand presence and generate leads.
3. Founders can guide and monitor sales team performance for better productivity and reducing leakage (unnecessary expenses and loss of prospects).
4. Gradual growth in the sales team brings in structured growth & planned expansion.
The challenges in building this model:
1. Founders do not have prior sales experience.
2. Founders are not aware of how to build a hybrid sales model, effectively and economically.
3. Founders are not getting sufficient time for product development and improvements, organization building activities, industry developments, govt compliances, and other important activities.
The solution: Hire a sales expert to build, operate & transfer the sales operations as per the vision and mission of the organization.
Contact us now to explore possibilities to build your high-performing sales team.
I’ll be sharing the basic building blocks of a sales strategy for startups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs.
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