Hyper-growth is a great problem to have for startups in enterprise sales. It means you’ve found product-market fit, your customers are getting ongoing value from your product, and your internal processes have held so far. But as the saying goes, ‘What got you here won’t get you there.’ After a certain threshold, hyper-growth breaks your internal processes and requires you to revisit them to minimize disruption and maximize success.
At this stage, sales leaders grapple with a set of common questions that we’ll address in this post. These questions are related to operationalizing the sales process, hiring, onboarding, and supporting product development. In no particular order, here are eight crucial factors sales leaders must optimize to sustain B2B growth:
- Positioning: What do we want to be known for?
- Qualification: Which customers should we say ‘no’ to?
- Automation: How can we automate parts of our business?
- Hiring: What roles should we add to our team?
- Training: How can we improve our coaching and onboarding processes?
- Product: How should we improve our product?
- Pricing: How can we price our product profitably?
- Tools: Are we using the right tools?
Let’s dive in.
#1 Positioning: What do we want to be known for?
Positioning is how you define your place in the market and the unique value you bring to your customers. It articulates who you are, why you exist, and how you differ from everyone else. It forms the blueprint of your sales, marketing, and product strategy.
One effect of growth is that it forces you to reexamine your product and brand positioning in light of new sales data. For example, you might have been targeting account executives and SDRs with your SaaS product initially, but after a period of rapid revenue and customer growth, you realize that your pitch is better suited to sales VPs and Directors. This naturally forces a review of your messaging to better align with the new customer segment you’ve identified. It also results in an overhaul of your marketing strategy, sales approach, and product development roadmap.
There are six key questions to ask when re-evaluating your positioning:
1. Who are we designing this for?
By knowing your audience’s demographics, roles, and KPIs, you can better understand how they’ll value your product and interact with it.
2. What problem does our product solve?
Every product is designed to scratch an itch - a critical pain point that needs immediate relief. Get specific on what your product solves so you can align your messaging accordingly.
3. What do our customers want out of our product (a.k.a its Job To Be Done)?
Customers don’t buy products - they buy outcomes. By knowing what your customer wants to achieve with your product (what they’re “hiring” it to do), you can better determine how to position, improve, and charge more for it.
4. What’s the most substantial benefit of our product?
Your unique selling point is the main benefit that draws in customers and brings in revenue. This is what you’ll lead with in all your messaging and communications.
5. Who are our most significant competitors and what differentiates us from them?
By knowing your key competitors and their feature sets, you can better understand your product’s weaknesses and theirs. This is useful for future product development and positioning.
6. Where is the market headed?
Keeping up with market trends is crucial to remaining relevant in your niche and making adjustments to serve your customers better and beat the competition.
#2 Qualification: Which customers should we say ‘no’ to?
Customer acquisition is a constant, never-ending cycle for B2B sales teams. Successful sales executives must have a thorough understanding of their buyer personas to guide their B2B sales strategy.
You want to pursue high-margin accounts that return more revenue for your effort. Acquiring and retaining these customers will prove highly beneficial to your sales growth and bottom line. Also, not all leads are created equal. A customer’s propensity to churn or defect to a competitor will depend on how much value they feel they’re getting from your product. If your product is critical to their revenue goals, they’re more likely to sign up, pay premium prices, and remain a customer than someone for whom your product is merely a ‘nice-to-have.’
#3 Automation: How can we automate parts of our business?
There are three key ways to optimize any process: automate it, delegate it, or eliminate it. Sales automation involves finding ways to complete sales tasks in as few steps as possible. With so many moving parts of the B2B sales process to contend with, it helps to automate more mundane tasks so you can focus on closing.
For example, you can use templates in your CRM that pre-populate each email with information based on previous conversations. You can also set up a drip email campaign so that specific emails get sent out to customers at different stages of the sales funnel automatically.
#4 Hiring: What roles should we add to our team?
As a kid enters puberty, they start to realize that things don’t fit anymore: they’ve outgrown their clothes, they need bigger shoes, and maybe their hairstyle isn’t working anymore… Likewise, as a startup continues to “grow up”, it’ll start to spot deficiencies in its sales team structure. You’ll discover that you’ve outgrown specific roles or that you need to hire new ones, or perhaps you need to increase the headcount for specific roles. This calls for a reevaluation of your team’s structure and strengths.
There are two steps you can take toward bolstering your sales team structure. The first is to review your team’s roles and KPIs to determine which roles are meeting their targets and which are declining in productivity or output.
The second is to hire specialists for specific roles critical to company growth (e.g., SalesOps Manager). This is because as your business grows, the generalists in early roles may need to be replaced by specialists who can deliver more value. For example, in the early days of your startup, you might have hired Daniel, a generalist salesperson, as both a BDR and sales analyst. As your business grows, you may need to hire Mia, an expert in sales analytics. Mia may have less breadth but much more depth in terms of her analysis skills, which are critical to the team and company’s success.
#5 Training: How can we improve our coaching and onboarding processes?
As any sales leader knows, hiring is only half the equation. Onboarding and training new sales professionals is the other. This crucial half of the equation requires as much (if not more) effort to ensure a good ROI for your time and money.
Use the following strategies to improve the onboarding process:
1. Provide content for self-learning
It’s challenging to scale your training program if each new hire is being individually onboarded. You can provide each new sales rep with tutorials, screencasts, and other online content during their first week on the job to accelerate their learning and allow them to hit the ground running independently. You can also provide sales enablement content for them to understand your product, company, and customers better. This also allows you to scale and train multiple hires at once without having to spend much effort on individual coaching. It’s vital that you continually review these measures and record the results to determine if your program is working effectively.
2. Pair new hires with other team members to accelerate learning
Pairing a new hire with an experienced team member accelerates their learning process and reinforces their roles and responsibilities. You can also pair new hires with each other to build team rapport faster.
4. Provide ongoing support and coaching
Hold follow-up sessions over the first 90 days of the job and ask for feedback on their onboarding experience to see if they’re still struggling and where they (and you) can improve.
#6 Product: Which parts of our product should we invest in?
As you grow, your customers’ needs will change. You might find that specific product features are less relevant or that new ones are needed. The product improvement process involves four key stages:
- Ideation and shipping: This stage involves coming up with new features and shipping them with each product update.
- Testing: Here, you track each new feature’s usage to determine if customers are getting value from it.
- Feedback: Next, you source explicit feedback from your customers through in-app surveys, web surveys, or community groups set up specifically for your product.
- Iteration: After analyzing usage trends and collecting feedback from your customers, you improve your product based on the gathered insights.
#7 Pricing: How can we price our product profitably?
Pricing plays an outsized role in the profitability of your business or product. Your pricing must be competitive enough to make a profit, but not too aggressive or you’ll lose your customers to competitors. Here’s how you can determine your prices:
1. Evaluate your gross margin and profit targets
Strong margins are necessary to stay in business and grow sustainably. Evaluate how much revenue you need to make in any given year and adjust your pricing based on subscription volumes, price testing, and the cost of delivering the product.
2. Analyze your competitors’ pricing
Look at your competitors’ pricing and identify opportunities that you can exploit. For example, if they’re using a seat-based model, are you able to offer unlimited seats and charge only for usage? If they’re offering customized pricing, are you able to lure away their existing customers with transparent, standardized packages?
3. Analyze your churn rates and exit survey data
There are many reasons existing customers churn, but a common one is pricing and affordability. Exit surveys (where customers give feedback on why they’re churning) can provide useful insight into how customers feel about your pricing. You can also track customer attrition after pricing changes to determine price sensitivity.
#8 Tools: Are we using the right tools?
The sales process offers opportunities to use tools that enhance your visibility, collaboration, and communication. Using the right tools can vastly improve your sales pipeline and help you close deals faster.
Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating a new or existing sales tool:
1. How does this sales tool help me achieve visibility?
Tools that give you deeper or broader insight into your sales activity are essential for better B2B sales process management. For example, a CRM allows you to see your pipeline at a glance with activity reports and sales data.
2. How can this help me collaborate more effectively?
Tools like Slack and Trello enable you to share relevant information with your teammates so that everyone in your sales operation is on the same page. Others like Momentum help you collaborate with key stakeholders in deal rooms to close complex deals.
3. Does the value we’re getting from this tool justify its price?
A tool or service should pay for itself over time, and this needs to be reviewed periodically to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. For example, suppose you invested in a pricey reporting tool that you barely use (or whose functionality is already present in another tool you use). In that case, it might be time to end your subscription with that tool and route the funds elsewhere. A lot of sales and marketing software is designed to scale in price as your business grows its headcount and usage, so keep in mind your tools’ cost implications as you expand.
Hyper-growth is an exciting phase for any B2B company to enter, but every sales manager needs to revisit and optimize different elements in their process to ensure the speed of growth is maximized.
From hiring and process management to tools and product development, optimizing each aspect of your B2B sales cycle pays dividends in increased revenue, higher team satisfaction, and happier customers.