"JUST LIKE A PRODUCT IN DEVELOPMENT, SALES PLANNING IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE REVISED OVER AND OVER, UNTIL IT WORKS RIGHT. "
Most founders just work from their product roadmap. But top founders will proactively build their Revenue Roadmap
One of the biggest traps in building a B2B software company is just "making something someone wants" rather than considering your sales strategy from the beginning. In our experience working with over 200 startups every year, we can tell you that far too few founders spend the necessary time building their roadmap around sales.
Once they have a product to sell, most founders will reach out to friends and family, build a few connections, and make a handful of sales and might even break into a few big deals or even crack a major MRR milestone. Eventually however, most of them hit a wall. They come to a point where revenue stalls and they don’t know why. More often, they don’t know what to do next.
Setting yourself up for success with sales starts with five simple things.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
Learning who your customer is shouldn’t feel like throwing darts at a board. Know their pain. Understand the problem you’re solving. Find out what else they’ve purchased, who they purchased it from and how they went about buying it. Who at the company was involved in the decision? Who activated the purchase? What were they interested in?
Get to know the people that have your problem, and get to know them intimately. Once you know them, you’re going to know how to communicate with them. When you ask, “How did you buy this other product and who was involved in the process?” you’ll know whether you can do a cold outreach or you’ll have to take them out to dinner in order to build a relationship.
Perfect Your Process
If you sell a phone system to a company that has five offices, there are going to be at least five buyers. Everyone in the office needs a phone, right? If it’s a $500k system, you’re not only going to get several division heads, you’re also going to get several layers of management to sign off on that purchase. The more expensive it gets, the more people the deal draws in.
Figure out how complex your customer’s buying process is going to be. You can’t expect a deal to go through every week if it takes two months for your customer to buy something. Founders just starting out in sales can overlook this and really screw up themselves up. You need to structure your sales process around theirs, accounting for all of the hoops and ladders that any individual at a company might have to jump through in order to buy your product.
Grow With Your Customer
I have a friend (who was once my vendor) that takes the onboarding process so seriously that he onboards every customer like they’re his own mother. He goes to the office, brings cookies, talks to every user himself and asks them about their experience. He makes sure that they’re using the product correctly and getting the optimum value out of it. While this isn’t a scalable process, it’s the best way to know that everyone’s happy and, more importantly, to understand how a happy customer is experiencing his products.
Remember, not all of your customers will be part of your growth strategy. Even if a customer is bringing in revenue, they might not be your ideal user. If they aren’t getting the maximum value out of your product, they probably aren’t going to stick with you forever. As you get closer to your ideal product vision, they’ll have less of a need to work with you and, thus, shouldn’t hold a special place in your expansion plan.
Build Your Team
Once you understand the size, needs and general nature of your customers, you’ll need to hire a team that can sell to companies who fit that profile. Since you’ve taken on the tasks relegated to a VP of sales, you have to figure out how many people it will take to hit your revenue goals.
A good sales team has the right amount of people with the right amount of skills. Everyone has to be excited about working at a small startup and selling to people you’re going after. You can’t hire a 10-year veteran of SMB sales and ask them to go sell to a massive corporation. If they’re used to a 2-3 phone call, one-swipe transaction, they’re going to get pretty tripped up when the VP of finance wants to send them an NDA or set up a meeting with lawyers. It’s just incompatible.
One of the hardest parts of sales is effectively communicating with your customers, prospects and partners. Most of the time founders have spent more time pitching employees or investors on the vision, without spending enough time thinking about what the prospects or partners would want to know in order to share your vision. While there are many formats and templates to a "good" sales pitch, the core of communicating effectively is understanding your customer. If we dive into this together and build off of the learnings we have had creating our Ideal Customer Profile and the selling frameworks of sales process, we'll have a running start at how our customers want to hear from us through discovery calls, demos, email outreach and other communication forms.
Define Your Challenges
Just like the changes your product will go through during the life of your company, so will your revenue process. The truth is, there is no short cut, or magic book to figuring out your revenue and anticipating the challenges ahead. Once you learn how to create your revenue roadmap, you'll be prepared to adapt to anything and ready to double down on the success you're having.
Sales PLanning Workshops
The Revenue Roadmap - Intensive
(5 Day Workshop)
This five-day workshop is the best place to start for a founding team who wants to make sure that they are starting off on the right foot with sales. We organize the week around building The Revenue Roadmap for your startup so every participant leaves with a clear deliverable and structured plan on how to do sales for their startup. During the week participants take a deep dive into additional key concepts (such as hiring, managing teams, and advanced metrics) with mentors and sales leaders from top Silicon Valley companies.
(1-2 Day Workshop)
This two-day workshop is organized into the six topics that are essential for building The Revenue Roadmap for your startup (including sales process, customer identification, building a team, identifying sales challenges, customer success and mastering client-communication).
The event is organized in such a way that a founder with no experience in sales can leave with a structured plan to start selling the next day.
The Speaker Series
(1-2 Hour mini-workshop or sales talk at your event)
The SalesCollider mentors and team offer a regular speaker series at conferences, corporate events, VC Firms and accelerators around the world. Typically we focus on one of the topic areas from The Revenue Roadmap, but we can customize this content depending on audience industry, stage or special requests.
Let's work together on planning a Revenue Roadmap for your companies or event attendees:
Workshop Team & Mentors
J. Ryan Williams, keynote speaker, Advisor & Founder @ SALESCOLLIDER
J. Ryan got his start mentoring founders as the enterprise sales advisor to InVision where he coached both CEO and sales reps to close the first dozen of what would be many enterprise sales deals. From there he was hooked, offering the same high quality training he led for 300 reps at AdRoll to founders from around the world (including sales workshops in Italy, Mexico, Japan and helping founders get into top accelerators in Silicon Valley such as Y-Combinator and 500 Startups. This vision of providing sales mentorship to founders has become SalesCollider, the best place for founders to connect with sales leaders and advisors..
Today J. Ryan is an active consultant and trainer in the startup community. In addition to working with SalesCollider companies, he has served as an EIR at 500 Startups, a mentor at FirstRound Capital, and an advisor to EliteMeet, a non-profit dedicated to career transitioning veterans from the US Special Forces.
Greg Afong, Project Manager @ SalesCollider
Greg is the project manager at SalesCollider, where he supports early stage companies and their go-to-market strategy through events & coaching. Since joining SalesCollider, Greg has helped dozens of companies plan their sales process and analyze their operational procedures. He’s especially passionate about startups having clean revenue data.
Greg is trained as an administrator of Salesforce.com, Hubspot, and Outreach.io as well as very familiar with other tools in the revenue stack (including Marketo, Yesware, Truly, LeanData) and loves planning with Mural.co.
Outside of working with startups, Greg runs a mentorship program for university students and is a UC Berkeley alumni.
Mentors & Speakers
Each Revenue-Roadmap event is customized to audience and sponsor. Typically we work closely with a VC or Accelerator who is hosting the event to ensure the content and speakers align with participant goals. On longer workshops, like our event this spring in Singapore, we bring in a team of mentors and speakers. We also host shorter events and meet ups - like the night that Sam spoke about How Buyers Buy in San Francisco.
We would love to hear from you! Our mission is to help founders around the world develop their Revenue Roadmap but to do so please let us know what interests you!