When companies are new, they will try many different things to see what sticks. They try other markets, new messaging, various industries, new entry points into an organization, a different sales structure, etc. They are consistently looking for the secret sauce. But at some point, this trial-and-error approach runs out. That’s when it’s time to take these tried-and-true strategic steps.
To stop the trial-and-error approach, start by evaluating your target clients. Who are you going after? Then, discuss with your sales team and find out who your top performers sell to. Remember that if your salespeople say, "anybody could use our product," that's a red flag.
Rather than take a wild guess, reflect on the companies you currently work with. While looking at your list, ask yourself these questions:
These questions will help to determine who your ideal client is.
After identifying your ideal clients, it's time to create a repeatable process. Unfortunately, according to HubSpot, "40% of sales teams don't have a playbook," which can cause misalignment.
One of the best ways to stop the trial-and-error approach is to ensure your team is aligned and doing the right things. This means documenting your sales process. Most sales organizations have a process, but it is not always documented.
The best sales processes help customers make the necessary decisions and align with their buying process. They are documented, so the team knows exactly what to do and when. Additionally, a documented sales process is ready for new hires to learn and practice immediately.
So, what does it mean to have a formal sales process? For starters, it means having clearly defined stages and tollgates that your salespeople understand.
After you have concluded that you want to support your company’s growth with a documented formal sales process, you'll want to include the following specific components:
If your company wants to continue growing and stop the trial-and-error approach, you need a documented sales process that all of your salespeople universally use. That doesn’t mean they are using a script but rather following the same framework that has been proven successful for your company.
After you have a defined sales process and know your ideal client, it's time to set a plan. Figure out what your team will achieve this week, this month, and this quarter to achieve their annual sales plan.
Use your "Big Three" measurements to help you identify what these goals should be. Those are the number of opportunities, your close rate, and your average deal or account size.
Is your team pursuing enough opportunities? For example, if a salesperson cannot generate enough opportunities, they will struggle to reach their goal.
Is your team converting the opportunities they find? Even if the salesperson is very active and sees many opportunities, they must have the ability to move them through the pipeline and eventually close them.
Are the opportunities big enough to hit your goals? Even if a salesperson finds enough opportunities and closes them at a decent rate, they will struggle to hit a target if all the deals or accounts are small.
Meet with your team to determine how many deals they need, based on their close rate, how many opportunities they need, and how big their average deal size is. Then based on those numbers, set a plan around it. Finally, execute your plan and hold them accountable.
After you have defined your plan, make sure you'll reinforce it with your team.
Create a reinforcement strategy that includes conversations in 1:1s, updates in sales team meetings, and a weekly email or dashboard that tracks the progress to the plan. Be clear on what you want your team to do and how you will follow up on them.
Following up with your team reinforces excellent performance and behavior while providing necessary feedback. If you fail to "inspect what you expect," people will pick up on that quickly and be less compelled to do what is asked of them.
Following up keeps everyone on track and allows for solid accountability, transparency, and team alignment.
If you want to transition from a trial-and-error approach to a more disciplined method, you need to discover your ideal client, define your sales process, set a plan, and reinforce your plan. Once you start there, you'll be able to see what works and you can stop the endless guessing.