- Posted by Steve Gruber
- On November 8, 2016
- 0 Comments
- B2B Sales
Working as a salesperson in a startup is challenging. In some cases there may be no track record of success, in others, the technology may be complex and require you to learn quickly. Often, there is no true formal sales training structure so you are left somewhat to your own devices. Ultimately, you want to ramp up as quickly as possible to begin driving revenue as soon as you can.
Here are a few ideas for how to improve your ramp-up speed.
Writing blogs and white papers or creating infographics for the website can be a great tool in helping you gain both market and technical knowledge of the product or solution you are selling. This sort of content generation work normally requires you to do some research, speak with your internal team of experts, validate against competitor information or other third party sources and pull something of value together for your audience in a clear and concise manner. Ensure you speak to your marketing team to make sure you are incorporating appropriate keywords and using other best practices to generate optimal search engine optimization.
This is a great way to get up-to-speed on a new technology or solution. In many cases, sales training is offered online and can be done at your own pace. In other cases, an in-classroom experience may be all that is offered and this also creates a great networking opportunity. Another option is to build basic training courses in-house with your tech experts. When I worked for a firm in Boston, the sales team, including myself, were not overly technical and no formal training existed. Rather than do nothing, we decided we would build our own training lessons. Working with our technology experts, we built a series “101” lessons (introductory lessons) on various aspects of the technology we were selling. These introductory lessons and corresponding technical lessons were a tremendous asset and made the sales process and closing much easier.
Read, Read, Read – Read All You Can
Super simple and basic. Reading all you can about what you are selling, what competitors are selling and doing and what is going on in the market is all useful. Over time, all this knowledge will provide you with a depth of understanding that will assist you in selling more effectively. A great way to stay on top of the competition is to read their social media feeds to stay in-the-know.
Go to Industry Events
This is a necessity. I don’t commit to attending lots of events unless absolutely necessary, but there is probably one per quarter that may be interesting and relevant. Industry events can allow you a chance to network with peers, meet prospective customers, learn and generally immerse yourself further in your field of work. Before every event, I suggest going with an action plan that is more than just learning. Commit yourself to meeting a few new people and connecting with them on LinkedIn. In many cases, I like to commit to trying to find one or more new leads.
Do Competitive Research
Reading about your competitors on their website and following their social feeds will help give you an idea of what is going on in the market. Combining this with customer meetings where competitor products may come up will allow you to sound current and “in the know”.
Start Selling Now
We believe that the “doing” model is the most important aspect to getting started. All of your reading, research and training is only valuable when you can apply it in real life situations where it has relevance. After a few hours, or days of immersing yourself with the messaging and the basics of the product, get selling! Remember, it is okay to admit to a prospect or a customer that you don’t know something. Be honest and let them know you will follow up once you speak to your team. It’s also important to set sales goals.
Initially, we recommend sales goals be activity based versus revenue focused. This is particularly important if you are working in a startup where there is little or no revenue. Set daily and weekly targets for outbound sales activities including emails, calls InMails etc. Be sure to track your conversion rates as this will determine how many outbounds you need to hit your revenue goal.
Use Your CRM to Keep Track of Your Activities
In today’s market, it is hard to sell without a sales CRM. Using an Excel to track your sales activities is not a method I would recommend. It is hard to schedule follow-ups and make notes, particularly when your sales database runs into the hundreds and thousands.
Organize a Weekly Sales Review
Having a weekly review session with your superior, the boss or the owner is a great way to keep you on track and them engaged. It provides you with a forum to discuss what is working, what is not and seek advice for how to improve. A few basics you can review include your activities at a high level and your sales funnel.
Using social media to assist in the sales process now is a must. Use them for research and for reaching out. We have had a great deal of success utilizing tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to mine for business and to interact with prospects.
If you are in need of assistance from a sales and marketing perspective feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.