Customer acquisition certainly is the goal for business and startup growth. However, if you hire a sales team and charge them with rushing out to sell, you might find yourself falling short of meeting customer expectations. Scaling your business with sales is like painting a room: the prep and priming work you do before you start painting is the difference between doing a great job or having to rework and repair.
Here are 3 tips for ramping up your sales initiatives in preparation of growth.
1. Avoid the stereotypical “Ready-Fire-Aim” scenario
Pushing salespeople against a market that’s not prepared to buy what you are selling is a waste of time, effort and precious resources. Have you done the upfront work to create a PULL marketplace for your product, service or platform? Yes, you have a sense of urgency: “We have to grow our business! Let’s sell, sell, sell!!” However, the selling cycle is at the last third of the overall business and customer development cycle. To assure greater success when selling, make sure you’ve taken the time to explore, understand and develop the marketplace. Otherwise they may not be expecting your selling initiative.
2. Prepare your infrastructure to support increased demand
Are your production, assembly, fulfillment, logistics, and billing functions prepared for even a 10% increase in demand? What happens if your company has a 20% increase in demand from the prior month? Will your revenue stream support the need to increase staffing? Are your systems robust and prepared to scale in response to your growing marketplace? If not, orders are late and customer expectations aren’t met. Without preparation, you may end up creating a mess you aren’t able to easily recover from.
3. Think long term, not just the next 30 days
Currently, sales forecasting is driven on a quarterly basis. However, your customers make purchasing decisions on an annual allocation basis. They continuously utilize resources and assets. Once you acquire that new customer, how will you maintain your relationship with them over a 12-month – not a 30 day – time period? What if your product, service or platform is a durable instead of a consumable? If your contract isn’t up for renewal for a while, what ongoing activities do you have in place to assure that, when renewal time comes, your company or startup offering is your customers’ logical first choice?
When considered from this perspective, selling involves process, discipline, and patience before rushing into the marketplace. Assure that your sales efforts will result in a positive business growth experience for both your customers as well as your company. Cover all your infrastructure bases first and foremost.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups creating sustainable legacy business models. Her book on sales and engineering collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. This post first appeared on the January 3, 2014 Salesforce Blog.