What are the sales tools I should be implementing at my startup? I get this question a lot from Founders. The expected answers include Salesforce, HubSpot, VP of Sales, and about a thousand other pieces of software. My answer usually surprises people. I think the most important sales tool for any organization is a sales process.
For founders who have yet to add anyone to the sales team, taking the time to define a sales process sets the stage for future success. Documenting all the steps in a prospect’s journey to becoming a customer, increases productivity, efficiency, and growth.
Mapping the Sales Process
When mapping the process, identify all the key players and their roles: salesperson, sales support, prospect, influencer, etc. Each step along the path to a sale should be clearly defined and include what each role needs at each step. When do you do a demo? When do you discuss pricing? Are you willing to do a proof of concept or trial? When will you provide the trial? Determine all of the exit and entry points to the process. What happens when a prospect goes dark? What happens when we lose a deal? What if a prospect resurfaces? Where do we start the process?
Finally, make sure you identify what you are selling at each step of the journey. Are you trying to close the final sale in the first conversation or are we just trying to get to a demo or discovery call? Identifying these “wins along the way” help team (and founder) morale.
When going through the process mapping, start to think about the sales pipeline and the metrics necessary at each step. These metrics will help build sales incentives at the right point for future sales team members.
Utilizing the Sales Process
The sales process can now be used to train new salespeople with standards that can be measured. The process also provides a foundation for all the technology tools. For example, a CRM system is only as good as the process it supports and the end users using it. If you have a process to follow, end users are more likely to use the CRM system as well. Implementing technology without a solid business process leads to churn, lost time, and lost sales.
The sales process is a living document that will change over time based on new products, new markets, new team members. Be flexible and open to changing the journey,. Or, there may be multiple paths at the organization.
Every company has a sales process, but formalizing and documenting it will lead to greater success.
Andy Snook is a notable figure in the tech startup community. He founded Fastpath, Inc in 2004, which has grown to support more than 1,100 companies in over 30 different countries. He is Certified in Risk and Information Systems Controls (CRISC), certified in Microsoft Dynamics and SAP, and is sought-after speaker at numerous audit industry events. Andy is passionate about helping tech startups hit the ground running, as both a mentor and a screening member of the Plains Angels, an angel investor initiative.