At Convert.AI, we’ve seen a few teams at this stage hit some of the same walls stifling fast growth. Here are the most common points of resistance we see among teams on their journey to push past their first million or two in revenue:
Not Obsessively Monitoring And Optimizing Lead Generation, Sales And Customer Success
Cobbling together Zapier and Spreadsheets and Pipedrive is passable for getting to the first couple million in revenue, but you will find yourself getting frustrated with limited lead visibility and tracking.
Eventually, you will need to transition to a full-fledged CRM to collect everyone’s daily activities. Now is the right time to instill the processes to collect your team’s performance data. With the right data architecture, you’ll have the benchmarks to give you the sales cycle, Ideal Customer Profile and a number of touch points to bring a deal to fruition. Armed with a sound sales stack, you can make actionable decisions each week after reviewing pipeline and customer data with your executive team.
Not Trying To Punch Above Your Usual Weight Class
Whale hunt often. If you’re targeting SMBs, try jump-starting conversations with midsize businesses. If you’re mainly working with midsize partners, take shots at enterprise firms. You’ll find what you need to do to work upmarket. I’m a strong believer that founders should sell into midsize and enterprise businesses themselves at first. This lays the groundwork for understanding baseline objections, pain points, which can be documented and codified for new sales representatives who join the team.
Account Executives Over-Emphasizing The Company’s Vanity Accomplishments
I was recently on the phone with an HR SaaS company whose account executive told me they had earned some press. “We made X industry list twice in a row. We also received some press and were highlighted in The Times as a promising tech company worth following.”
Mentioning this on a call sounds like exactly what it is: heavy-handed, off-putting posturing.
A call is the wrong place to talk about your press. It is the right place, however, to mention the results you’ve generated for other similar stage companies in the past.
Treating Each Prospect Like Everyone Else
No one wants to feel like Prospect No. 26 on the receiving end of a call with an AE or SDR. Don’t simply change [NAME] in all your email messages and send the same content. Segment them by industry, title and relevance. Personalize each touch point, including the messages that are further down the sales funnel. Make each point of contact, even follow up No. 7, a thoughtful one. Done right, your ideal customers should feel like their call was the only one conducted by your representative that day.
Not Using Other Channels As Part Of Your Lead Generation Or Sales
Emails are required for lead generation and sales — but don’t stop there. Few companies are reaching out to prospects in other channels in tandem with email outreach. Take advantage of this to rise above the noise. If you’re only emailing to generate new business, you are leaving money on the table.
Not Routing Leads Correctly
For SMB, it’s enough to have someone who is reasonably polished and has the grit to follow up 12 times to resounding silence without getting discouraged. But there’s an expectation selling into the midsize and enterprise that salespeople need to be quite seasoned, matching their depth of knowledge in the industry, as well as their professional acumen. Few things are worse than hearing a representative derail a large deal because they couldn’t conduct themselves confidently enough during the meeting.
Not Asking Thoughtful, Personalized Questions During Discovery Calls
Don’t ask the same questions everyone else is asking. If it’s too broad or generic, you risk eroding your degree of professional credibility. Questions that take a 10-second Google query to answer (like “how long have you been working at [Company]?” or “How long has the company been around?”) frustrate most buyers. They waste time. Encourage your team to ask intelligent, well thought out, industry-specific questions. You can’t fake this and there are no silver bullets. Do the research. Show them you did the upfront diligence before the call to understand the basics of their business.
Sending A Generic Message, With Generic Follow-Ups
Make the process of following up strike up some excitement and momentum. At Convert.AI, some of our representatives prefer to embed a video in the proposals they send. We also set up internal alerts for our representatives to get news on an ideal customer’s business or industry, which they can bake into their touch points to personalize. One solution (and a previous customer), Kompyte.com is an amazing resource for enabling AE’s and Customer Success teams to follow what is happening with each account.
Handling Calls With Less Personality Than Alexa
Tell your team to have a soul and own it. Build some rapport aside from asking route questions related to their businesses. Encourage representatives to build relationships by fitting in some empathy and humor. While I wouldn’t advise anyone to open a call talking for 45 minutes about their pet marmot, it’s a great idea to knock out some pleasantries throughout a call. After hundreds of calls, they’ll naturally master an if/then early conversation framework that will work well for them. Listen to your representatives’ calls and make sure they’re speaking emphatically when they’re not listening intently.
Scaling a business never gets easier. But it’s made easier when you have great underlying processes and a great team caught up to speed on best practices.
This post was originally published in Forbes.
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