Your business will live and die by the number of customers (and revenue) it can bring through the door. Selling is an art in its own right, which we won’t dive in to here, but we can talk a little about the processes and tools you can put in place to make your sales team more effective.
SOC.OS is a SaaS product, primarily aimed at the mid-market, albeit we do service smaller and enterprise customers. The advice given here is set against that backdrop.
In the first instance, you‘re going to want a customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing system. This will help you manage your prospects, leads and customers and the interactions with them, as well as the sales and onboarding processes that they touch. A good CRM systems can be hugely powerful, as it also provides a wealth of data which you can leverage to improve the way you sell and market to customers. At SOC.OS, we use HubSpot, but there are plenty of options out there for growing and more established companies.
You are going to want to define your sales process and sales qualification methodology and have this reflected in your CRM system. You can further augment this with information on your market context, ideal customer profile, and buyer personas. All of this information together with your pitch deck and product overview, will effectively form the basis of your sales playbook, which will be vital for onboarding sales resources in to your organisation and as an ongoing point of reference for them. If you don’t have experience in the sales world, you may want to get help from external SMEs or sales enablement organisations to help you on this journey.
Once you start selling to customers, you’re going to need something which forms the basis of the contract between you and the customer. Depending on whether you’re business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B), this could be something as simple as a set of T&Cs at the point of sign-up on your website, or a more complex highly negotiated contract between you and the third party. It will entirely depend on the nature of your product, it’s price point and how you sell it. Regardless, you will again need to lean on your lawyers to help draft these terms and condition and any other documentation which forms part of the agreement between you and the customer. At SOC.OS we use an engagement letter and standard terms model, with slightly different flavours depending on the customer. This has been part of an evolution from a standard contract, which has also involved moving to a digital signing platform, to help reduce the friction of the customer sign-up process, and with it, the amount of red-lining and negotiation around our contracts. This evolution had a huge impact on the time it took to get prospects to sign up following a successful sales call.
If you are bringing in sales specific resources, they will probably be renumerated on a commission based plan. You will need to define, and continue to refine this commission plan. In simple terms, this will be based on targets you expect this sales resources to achieve (tied to your overall business plans), on target earnings (OTE) for those resources, and how you want to reward people for exceeding those targets.
As mentioned, your CRM system can provide you with a wealth of data and information around your sales performance. It will undoubtedly come with a number of pre-canned reports which you can utilise, but should also have the capability to create custom reports. You can utilise these to measure simple things like the health of your sales pipeline, to more in depth reporting related to the performance of your sales resources. Don’t underestimate the power of this information and use it to test sales channels, improve sales process and measure the performance of your team. They are also really useful for management reporting for your board and potential investors.
Sales Operations checklist
- Get your CRM system in place.
- Define your sales process.
- Build your sales playbook.
- Define your Customer terms and conditions and mechanism for customer sign-up.
- Build out sales metrics and reporting.
In this series of blogs we’ve talked about the fundamentals of operations for a start-up or small business; everything from getting your business off the ground, to finance, human resources, and sales operations. This is just a small part of what it means to be a COO, and you will undoubtedly be involved in many other aspects of the business from product, to strategy and anywhere else where you can lend your skills and experience. It’s not intended to be exhaustive, but hopefully gives some useful pointers for things you might want to think about or put in place. In support of this objective, we’ve created a checklist which you can download and keep.
Finally, I wish you all the success in your business venture. It’s incredibly exciting to build your business and watch it grow. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn, and I’d be more than happy to help.