All posts by James Ker-Reid

Why should a customer buy your service or product? The answer lies in the value proposition, which is often a term used by marketers and businesses to show why their offering is necessary. Without a solid value proposition, you will likely struggle to sell your products and services. But with one, you can increase customer intrigue and set yourself up for success. With that in mind, we’re highlighting why your business needs a value proposition and what you should consider when creating one. 

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition essentially covers what your company does, the key benefits of your product or service and how you are different from other businesses operating in your market. Nail those three questions, and you’re well on your way to creating an excellent value proposition. 

It’s also important to remember that a value proposition isn’t a slogan or back-of-the-box advertising. With a value proposition, you’re covering the what, how and why to give potential customers clearer insight into your company’s USP. 

The importance of a strong value proposition

You need to convince people to buy your products or services, ideally sooner rather than later. It’s vital to show the added value of a product or service and how it will enhance the lives of your customers. A value proposition is a customer-centric way of doing just that, acting to increase brand awareness and loyalty. 

The best value propositions display company ethos and appeal to their target audience, showcasing how you’ll solve their specific needs. For that reason, it’s helpful if you understand your target audience before creating a value proposition. 

What to consider before you create a value proposition

Along with knowing your target audience, there are several factors to consider before you create a value proposition. Doing so will help you define a better proposition that has a good chance of resonating with your audience. 

  • What do you offer? – explain your products and services in a way that strikes a chord with your target audience. Word it in a way that is clear and concise without any jargon
  • How are you different from competitors? – your value proposition needs to include a unique selling point that clearly differentiates you from other competitors in your market space.

By taking these aspects into account, you’re covering the most important factors about your business and why people should use it. By addressing customer needs as closely as possible and what your competitors lack, you can craft a watertight value proposition. 

Value propositions and their impact on conversions

A well-thought-out value proposition can make a massive difference to your business. When done right, you can increase sales conversation and boost revenue. While a poor proposition can turn customers off your products and services, making it even harder to sell. 

As you increase business, you can refine other aspects of the company to keep up the momentum, including upping marketing spending and taking on new hires. But without an excellent value proposition, it will be hard to drive your business forward and reach targets.

Summary: the value in a value proposition

A value proposition is the essence of your business and combines clarity with marketing savvy. You’ll communicate the importance of your product or service, speak directly to your target audience and tell them what makes you a better choice than the competition. It takes time and effort to create a high-level value proposition, but when done right you’ll set yourself up for a better business designed to succeed. 

The best strategies are well planned, whether they relate to sales, marketing, operations or any other aspect of the business. With effective sales planning, you can win more leads and achieve high sales performance across the team. Here, we look at five essential sales planning tips to help reach your business objectives and maximise performance. 

5 sales planning tips

  • Customer profiles
  • Data insights
  • Templates and scripts
  • Own your expertise
  • Performance tracking

1)  Keep customer profiles

Reviewing past performance and diving deeper into the specifics of your clients will help inform your sales planning. Start by asking important questions about your customer base. These include who spends the most money, makes repeat purchases, has the shortest sales cycle and is easy to work with. 

While you won’t always be able to sell to your perfect customer, having a profile of them offers clarity to your sales team. Find the prospects who are most likely to convert and build your sales planning around them. The result should be better team efficiency as sales reps can focus their efforts on the right type of persona. 

2) Let data offer an agile approach

The best sales planning incorporates data and contain quantitative information and analysis. Consequently, every decision in your sales team is based on tangible insights, whether it’s information about a specific lead or the behavioural impact of your target audience.  

Using data to drive your planning will help identify the best opportunities for growth. It will also ensure the right solutions and resources are in place to execute sales to a high level. Trusted data also allows for increased flexibility, as sales leaders can make real-time decisions and pivot the plan if the data calls for course corrections. 

3) Don’t write off templates and scripts

Instead of focusing on one superstar sales rep who boosts the numbers, work on creating stellar materials designed to help your team succeed. Think about how you approach cold calling, elevator pitches, cold email templates, presentation decks, and draft templates that your team can follow. 

Then get to work at honing it and improving, so it becomes a watertight template easily used by your sales reps. With these materials, they can get to work turning prospects into customers and using your scripts and templates as the basis of their pitch. 

4) Own your expertise

Markets are competitive, no matter what you’re selling and where you’re selling it. Therefore, you should aim to own your niche and propel your business to the status of a thought leader in your industry. This approach will help others see you in a good light as they begin to think of you as an innovator. 

Content marketing might not provide direct sales, but it plays a vital role in the process of solidifying your company and building trust. It functions at the beginning of the funnel, generating awareness and getting people intrigued about your offerings. Therefore, it should form part of your overall sales planning. 

5) Prioritise performance tracking

It’s unrealistic to expect instant results when you’re just starting the sales journey. But recording every aspect of the strategy and having a reference point can help you improve and reach targets over time. 

Everything you do should be recorded, with the outcomes scrutinised to see where you can innovate. Key performance indicators are necessary to measure progress and arrive at the intended result. Measure phone activity on sales calls, open and click rates on email sends, lead conversion rate – all of these factors contribute to better long-term performance across the sales team. 

Summary: sales planning like a pro

The famous line goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. With the right sales planning, however, you won’t need to worry about your business missing out on targets. Use it to build a robust plan that informs decisions about your sales pipeline. The end result will be an improved sales process that leads to higher conversions and improved revenues. 

At times, it’s easy to get revenue operations and sales operations roles confused, especially if your startup is just up and running and you don’t have a ton of sales experience. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that they’re two entirely different aspects of the business serving their own purposes. But just what is the difference between revenue operations and sales operations roles? We’ve got the answers below. 

What is a sales operation role?

We’ll start with the sales operation as it’s more commonly known in the business world. A sales operations team supports the sales department at the top end. This includes general reporting around sales, territory mapping and even tech management. 

The sales operations team is primed to empower sales later in the cycle, although it differs from sales establishment teams. Sales operations aim to improve sales performance by taking on sales enablement, sales data and strategic planning responsibilities to allow sales reps to focus on what they do best – sell. 

The job of a sales operation team involves using data analysis and sales forecasting to help organise a sales strategy. The typical day-to-day of a sales operations team member includes the following: 

  • Manage the sales tech stack, such as adopting and customising CRM
  • Improve performance by identifying KPIs, managing leads and evaluating measures for success
  • Lead ​​product and sales training, contracts and service-level agreements, employee onboarding and offer knowledge base management
  • Implement a vision and strategy so that the team meets sales goals. 

Sales operations teams primarily work with sales departments. They can, however, collaborate with other departments – like marketing – to help with brand messaging and to ensure the relevant content is created. 

What is a revenue operation role?

The lesser-known of the two, revenue operations roles aren’t as established as sales operations positions. In fact, it’s a pretty new concept as far as other jobs go. Despite not being around as long as sales operations, its importance continues to grow.

The role is essentially more rounded than sales operations and involves assisting sales teams, marketing departments, customer success and finance operations. Anything that helps drive revenue is likely to fall under the remit of a revenue operations team. A typical revenue operations day-to-day includes:

  • Covering operations management and working across micro and macro levels to deliver strategic business objectives
  • Sourcing the right technology to use across marketing, sales and customer service
  • Removing friction within the sales, marketing and customer service teams to enable them to reach targets
  • Provide daily insights to aid the long-term strategic analysis, all of which are based on extensive data points across all business functions. 

Revenue operations enable other departments, such as sales, marketing and customer service, to maximise their performance and build revenue. Essentially, a revenue operations team identifies operational roadblocks in internal processes and helps remove them.

Summary: revenue operations versus sales operations

While sales operations focus on managing processes and systems across sales, revenue operations are more encompassing. The role creates efficiency across the entire team. It’s not uncommon to focus on sales operations in the early stages of startup life, although your business will hopefully feature both departments as it grows. 

Prioritisation and personalisation are both necessary to win more clients. They can make the difference between winning a sale or losing out to a competitor. And while most businesses understand the need to identify their sales target market, putting theory into action can prove tricky. So read on and use our tips on identifying your target market and selling to the right audiences.

  • Look at your competitors
  • Choose specific demographics and targets
  • Create focused content
  • Do the research and  conduct surveys

How to identify your sales target market

Do the research and conduct surveys

Conducting research can help you better understand your target market, as it gives you more insight into the minds of potential customers. Ask questions around your industry and discover pain points faced by the people who could benefit from your product or service. 

Use the insights gained to determine who is a good fit for your offering and who isn’t. For all the savvy marketing in the world, sometimes there’s nothing like a good old fashioned q&a on the ground level to understand and identify your sales target market. 

Look at your competitors

Who are your competitors, and which markets do they promote their products and services to? You don’t necessarily want to target the exact same customer base (or maybe you do?). However, you can still extrapolate important information about the type of people who might benefit from your products or services. 

Competitor research will help define your market and increase the chances of marketing to your ideal customer personas. Your competitor’s customers may look the same as yours, but you could also unearth gaps in the market that you can take advantage of. 

Choose specific demographics and targets

Think about your product or service and analyse who has the need for it. Ask questions like ‘who is most likely to buy it?’, ‘when and where will they use it?’ and ‘what profile do they fit in terms of age, income, etcetera?’. Consider the following factors when identifying your target audience:

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Location
  • Marital or family status
  • Occupation

Having details around their demographic will provide more clarity about your customer persona. You can then test different marketing methods to capture their attention and see if there is an appetite for your product or service. 

Create focused content that brings your target audience to you

You don’t need to speak directly to each client or lead to offer personalised services and strike a chord. Creating content like blog posts, newsletters, and ebooks lets you engage with audiences using focused content to solve their pain points. 

Going down the content route can also help if you haven’t quite yet defined your audience. Start by offering tangible advice about topics in your industry and share it across social media, in emails and other channels.

It will help attract your target audience, who will find your content on search engines and by other means. By focusing your efforts on specific content based on your USP, you’re positioning yourself as an expert while speaking to each reader directly in a way that feels more personalised. 

Priority number one

Without knowing who you’re selling to, you’ll struggle to meet business targets. Therefore, a robust strategy should be in place to help you become an expert on your customer base. And by understanding your sales target market, you can convert more leads and scale your business. 

A pricing strategy is arguably the most important factor you need to consider when for your business. Go too high, and people will be put off from buying your product or service. Go too low, and potential customers will question the quality. So how do you find the right pricing strategy? That’s the purpose of this guide, which looks at the different types of pricing strategies for your business.

 

  • Price skimming
  • Market penetration pricing
  • Premium pricing
  • Economy pricing
  • Value-based pricing
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Bundle pricing

 

Different pricing strategies

Price skimming

Price skimming is popular with many startups. It involves charging the highest initial price a customer is willing to pay and then lowering the amount over time. Once the demand for the first customer is satisfied and competition enters the market, the company lowers the price to attract more price-sensitive customers. Price skimming can be particularly successful when there isn’t much competition for a product or service.  

Market penetration pricing

Market penetration pricing is almost the opposite of price skimming. It sees a company delivering a lower price during its initial offering, with the aim of attracting customers to its new product or service. The lower price is designed to help the new product penetrate the market and attract customers away from competitors. Market penetration pricing only usually works in the interim, aiming to raise awareness with a large number of customers. 

Premium pricing

If a business creates a high-quality product or service aimed at high-income individuals, it might try premium pricing. This pricing strategy involves developing a product that people deem as high value. Therefore, the target market is anyone operating in the luxury or high-end lifestyle markets. 

Economy pricing

With economy pricing, the aim involves targeting customers who want to save money when purchasing goods or services. Stores like Asda use economy pricing models to appeal to a range of customers looking for discounts and price-saving deals. Unlike premium pricing, economy tends to be for more functional products and services aimed at a specific target market. 

Bundle pricing

Bundle pricing can work if you’re selling multiple products. You take them and bundle everything together, selling at a lower price than if items were charged individually. Discounts can create a sense of demand, allowing companies to sell products and services they previously struggled to shift. When done right, the result is a greater volume in sales. 

Dynamic pricing

Flexibility can be key for many businesses, and dynamic pricing is often used to establish flexible market prices for products and services. It considers variables, such as the balance between supply and demand, as well as seasonality and competitive strategy. As a result, companies can adapt to the market, be more agile and offer a more competitive service to customers. 

Choosing the right pricing strategy

With so many pricing strategy options, businesses have to decide the best way to market their products and services. By taking a good look at your offering and comparing it to other competitors, you can settle on a pricing strategy designed to help your company progress and find the sweet spot for the cost of your products and services. 

Sales are the backbone of any business, underpinning every aspect from hiring to product creation. Whether it’s marketing, important processes, team structure or software implementation, every part of the business’s make-up is designed to increase revenue. But which revenue strategies should your business use to fuel growth? We’ve got the answers with this guide to revenue strategies that will drive your business forward. 

4 revenue strategies to boost business

  • Identify top-performing channels
  • Expand brand awareness
  • Invest in the right software
  • Review your pricing strategy

1) Identify top-performing channels

It might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many businesses neglect their best-performing channels searching for leads from other avenues. While you need to expand to other areas to maximise growth, one of the best revenue strategies involves doubling down on what’s already working. 

For example, if cold calling has proved to bring in the most revenue, consider increasing the volume of calls you make daily. If you bring in business via a monthly webinar, think about hosting one bi-weekly. It’s also worth reviewing channels that don’t perform well and asking if they are necessary to your growth. If not, it might be worth scaling back and refocusing your efforts on the strategies already bearing fruit.

2) Expand brand awareness

Recognition is a key issue for startups. You can have the best product or service in the world, but it’s of little use if no one knows about it. Therefore, you should increase brand awareness because you can only sell to customers who know your company exists. 

With a focus on branding, startups can improve their awareness and aid lead generation. Businesses often look straight to sales tactics to build their company, but spending time getting your name out there is a revenue strategy that can be more sustainable in the long term and directly correlate to increasing income.

3) Invest in the right software

Businesses powered by systems can handle multi-layered demands of expansion, which is why you should be fully armed with the right technology to help you flourish. This is especially true for startups, as they often need to rely on tech while employee numbers are on the lower side. 

Use a solid CRM or even lead management software if your company hasn’t yet matured to the point of needing more complex customer relationship management systems. Now is also the time to look at current operations and see what works and what doesn’t so you can remain focused on small business growth and operate an agile set-up.

4) Review your pricing strategy

Making price adjustments to pricing can help with your revenue goals. And that’s not to say a price decrease should be on the agenda. Perhaps it’s time to increase prices to generate more revenue and boost business profits. 

Before making any decision, understand competitor prices and how your pricing sits in against similar products and services. Think about regular incremental increases rather than one high price rise. Small jumps may not seem like much to your customer base, but they can change revenue in your company significantly.

Summary: Finding the right revenue strategies

Increasing revenue is the most challenging task all businesses face, especially if they’re startups. With the right revenue strategies in place, however, you can build your business and start seeing impressive increases in revenue on your way to establishing your company as a significant player in its field. 

Too often, startups can go hunting for glory without having a proper sales strategy in place. It’s not negligence as much as it is eagerness to get going. And while the desire to get the wheels in motion is commendable, it’s necessary to take stock and put a plan of action together. With that in mind, we’ve created this guide with what you should include in a sales strategy. 

Why do you need a sales strategy?

It’s vital to find sustainable traction in the market, and it’s something you’ll only achieve with a sales strategy. A well-executed strategy gives your sales team structure and something to focus on. As a result, they can zero in on the core objectives of the business from a sales perspective.

It needs to align your target demographic, buyer personas, market positioning, methodology and key channels. The strategy should be clear on customer pain points and demonstrate how your offering solves the problems they face. It’s also important to remember that your strategy will evolve as the business matures. But for now, here’s what you need to include in your sales strategy. 

What should you include in a sales strategy?

  • Target customers
  • Revenue targets
  • Tactics
  • Team structure
  • Market conditions

You need to know your target market, especially if this is your first sales plan. The exact details of the target demographic might not be fully fleshed out yet, but a sales strategy is where you can start making gains by identifying your market and customers. Ask questions like ‘do they all belong in the same industry?’, ‘what is the perfect customer?’, ‘what are their struggles and challenges?’. Answering these questions will start to give your strategy some depth and help you on your way to creating a solid plan. 

Revenue targets

Sales targets are necessary to help your sales team achieve their goals. It provides everyone with a clear outline of expectations and what’s possible. Realism is required when creating revenue targets – you need to aim for figures within reach. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it should be grounded with tangible targets that identify how much revenue your team can bring into the business realistically. 

Tactics

Tactics hold plenty of weight in a sales strategy. They essentially set out how you and your team will achieve business goals. Tactics include elements like the methods you plan on using to convert leads into sales and where you plan on finding customers. 

Team structure

What does your team look like? Is there a sales team, or are you still in the early stages where employees have hybrid roles? Whatever your approach to the overall structure of your team, everyone needs to know their role and work in the same direction to achieve results. Transparency is essential in a team structure, and this should be reflected in the sales strategy. 

Market conditions

Thorough research into your market will help everyone on the team better understand what they’re dealing with. You want to include vital information about your industry as well as the competitive landscape. Look at competitors, detail the current state of play in the market and work out your standing in the ecosystem of the industry you operate  – both where you are right now and where you want to get to by reaching revenue targets. 

Summary: A winning sales strategy for success

Whether it’s a startup or blue-chip company, every business benefits from a sales strategy. You need to know where you’re going before you can reach targets, and a sales strategy will give your business more direction and clarity to achieve your sales targets. 

Growth or profit? For B2B tech startups, it’s the million-dollar question. 

Both of these outcomes are highly valuable for businesses. And most founders strive to position their businesses for both maximum growth and sustained profitability. Unfortunately, we know that it is incredibly difficult to attain both at the same time. In the end, it comes down to understanding the difference between the two and making an educated decision on when to shift your attention and resources to each one. 

So, what is the optimal ratio between the two?

Exploring the rules of growth and profitability 

Completing some online research will highlight that there are numerous rules of thumb out there for assessing whether your B2B tech startup has the right growth-profit balance. The now famous “Rule of 40” suggests that a successful SaaS startup’s growth rate plus profit should add up to 40%. Which means if you’re growing at 60% per quarter, you can afford to lose 20%. 

The basic idea is that early stage startups should aim for high growth, prioritising unit or cohort profitability, not overall company profitability as the company invests in product and service development and scalability.

Growth 

There’s organic growth and growth by acquisition or partnership. Usually for a B2B tech startup, organic growth will be the priority. That can include increasing the workforce, increasing the customer base and increasing the volume of sales. 

However, with this comes increased risks with additional obligations, and with fast growth and rapid expansion, businesses can run into problems with maintaining quality.

Research shows that 93% of B2B tech companies fail to reach Series A funding.

If you want to run a successful startup that will last, you have to learn how to measure startup growth. 

In light of recent economic and market conditions, most notably the implosion of WeWork, growth isn’t enough to attract investors anymore. 

Profitability 

Profits are important to every business, and it’s no surprise that most entrepreneurs seek to become profitable quickly. Unfortunately, only two in five startups are profitable, and other startups will either break even (1 in 3) or continue to lose money.

Sometimes, achieving true profitability comes at the expense of growth. Instead of reinvesting profits into sales, marketing and employees, founders use profits to build the bottom line and net cash. 

For a new startup, one of the greatest advantages to focusing on profitability is the ability to maintain financial stability without relying on outside investment. 

Finding the right strategy to balance growth and profitability 

Startup founders need to strike a balance between growth and profitability in order to secure investment and sustainably grow their business. 

Some of the key ways to strike the right balance include: 

Cash flow – as a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you should have enough cash saved up to cover a minimum of 6 months’ worth of expenses.

Cash conversion cycle – analyse the time (days) it takes from e-signature to invoice sent and to the invoice being paid, decreasing this time will bring new much needed cash into your business and fuel your growth.

Establish targets – set a minimum profit level and allow for growth-focused investments with any profits that exceed that target.

Market fit – it’s important to generate revenue during the early stages, in order to verify that customers will pay for your product.

Cost-to-serve equation – this analysis will pinpoint exactly how profitable a particular customer will be and which ones may actually generate losses for the business. Then you can establish the value of that customer and weigh that against the risks. 

Customer referrals – asking your existing customer base for recommendations, means new customers can be secured with minimal investment, even if referral fees are due, it’s when you receive the revenue. A strategy like this will help to grow the business and generate profits simultaneously. 

All sized companies need to be agile and learn when to shift their focus between growth and profitability at different stages of the life cycle. At Sales for Startups we work with Pre-Seed to Series A startups to create comprehensive agile strategies to support overall goals. 

To find out more download our Winning Sales Strategy or book a consultation call with our CEO & Founder James Ker-Reid. 

 

There’s a lot to consider when founding a B2B SaaS tech business.

First and foremost will be product development; to ensure a unique SaaS product can create an impact in a competitive B2B market.

With a strong value proposition in place, it’s time to optimise sales and marketing operations, and take into consideration the core components of strategy, infrastructure, team and clients/community.

Strategy

As a conceptual activity, strategic planning is not always given the time and attention it deserves. A gung ho attitude will only serve a startup so well without a plan backed by real research rather than internal theory.

Having a strategic plan to align sales and marketing activity gives direction to activity in the early stages, and continues to provide focus as a startup grows.

A strategy will take into consideration brand messaging, competitors and positioning, customer pipeline, and of course in depth research of prospects, to name a few components.

Infrastructure

A solid strategy is nothing without the infrastructure to execute it. SaaS startups can practice what they preach and benefit from a multitude of SaaS providers to support day-to-day operations.

A sales tech stack can make or break a business. Consolidate services where possible, or integrate. There are many ways to do this and an API call can be all a startup needs to significantly reduce administrative burdens on sales and marketing teams. Saving a small amount of time each day can accrue into days and weeks of saved time throughout the year.

A quality CRM is invaluable, especially to support startup growth as several teams work across accounts. A CRM that can integrate with other software services ensures better control over data and an efficient sales cycle.

There exists a lot of power in automation. Utilising automation services wisely allows startups to engage more prospects and accelerate pipelines. Easing pressures on the workforce can also reduce the risk of employee burnout as engagement demands increase with growth. Different automation options will suit different businesses, and workflows should be built around unique customers for the best results. While there are many benefits to automation, businesses need to be careful however, that they do not not become robotic in their engagement.

Team

While infrastructure and automation is valuable, nothing can replace the value of real team members.

Recruitment should not be carried out in haste, and the value of diversity should be recognised. Once talent is on board, due time should be made available for teams to come together, including across departments to share insights and align activity. This extends beyond uniting sales and marketing teams to product development and finance etc, building relationships and understanding across all departments.

With a talented team in place and working cohesively, it can be tempting to try to motivate staff with targets and commissions, and while there can be a place for this, businesses should be mindful that increased sales through overpromising will lead to disillusioned customers. Short term wins do not necessarily lead to long term gains.

Providing training programmes for all staff, will not only enable the business but also empower the individual. A talented team member happy in their role on day one, will likely value the challenge and opportunity to evolve their role as the company grows.

Clients and Community

Businesses succeed when they enable their customers to be their marketers, generating new leads from word of mouth and referrals. In addition to offering referral rewards, businesses can enable customers to promote them by creating content that they can share, and celebrating their successes, for example through case studies.

For a SaaS B2B startup, the value proposition will shift in time to keep pace with new technologies. This offers a great opportunity to build trusted relationships with clients and provide feedback channels through access to beta versions.

There is a wide community out there for startups, and leads can be generated from leveraging network connections, this includes peers, suppliers and clients. Build relationships and support each other.

How can you optimise sales and marketing to close more deals?

Optimising your sales and marketing operations is not a quick one-time fix.

Successful startups constantly evaluate and refine their processes to adapt to changing times and achieve sustainable growth.

At Sales for Startups we can help you gain clarity in your strategy, gain confidence in your execution and get traction through your sales operations.