We recently held a session with our Founder & CEO, James Ker-Reid, who talked us through what the necessary elements are for any B2B tech startup that is trying to craft its sales strategy.
If you missed Part 1 that looked at the analysis you need to do first before diving into your strategy creation, as well as the structure of a successful sales strategy, then you can find that here. If you’d rather watch the session, click here to view the recording via our YouTube channel.
In Part 2 of our Sales for Startups Masterclass: Crafting a Winning Sales Strategy For B2B Tech Companies, we’ll be covering:
- 3. How do I structure a realistic and executable plan?
- 4. What should a plan look like?
- 5. What are the best practices for smartly executing my plan?
3. How do I structure my plan
We often get asked this question by Founders. We’ll cover some of the key components below:
- Timeframe: At Sales for Startups, we’re a big fan of 90-Day horizons, and that’s what we implement with every business we help.
- Platform: A plan is not necessarily one to be created in a word document and shut away. How are your team going to see and interact with this plan? Is it going to be on Asana for example (as we do), JIRA, a planning tool in Microsoft, etc.? It needs to be visible for the intended audience in order to engage with it, view it, understand it and dissect it.
- Expectations: What are the expectations of the people, including interacting with the plan itself? Often the contributor roles sees things as ‘The leadership sets the strategy and the plan, and ultimately it’s just left there for us to implement it’. We need to be a bit more engaging than that.
- Measurement & Milestones: It’s great to have even 90-Day goals which is a good time horizon in tech startups, but we need to set interim measurements and milestones within that. E.g. in the first two weeks, four weeks, six weeks – what are those milestones within that time frame?
- Working Practices: Whether that’s the review of the plan (e.g. weekly meetings) or commenting on the plan itself so it’s visible for everyone, these operating principles are really important.
4. What should my plan look like?
Typically you would have a Quarterly Goal – we’ve previously mentioned that 90-Day horizon. Then you want to break that down into Key Results. Then you follow those up with Milestones within those key results. You’d then follow this up with Checkpoints so that (say for example) when you’re following up this plan every two weeks, you can review how well you’re doing based on those key results. Finally, you’d have the Objectives – i.e. the things that you need to achieve in order to successfully reach that quarterly goal.
If we were to dive deeper into those Objectives, you’ll want to be able to break these down to fit into your quarterly cycle. We’ve used 12 as an example, but this may vary depending on the business and goals you have. You’ll want to put dates on the achievements of those objectives matching the end of each sprint (two weeks in this case).
It’s a lot to do and a lot to break down from just a revenue key result into those milestones and objectives and sprints. It’s a sophisticated skill so we wanted to share what we’ve found are some of the best practices when it comes to doing this.
5. What are some of the best practices?
- Data-first approach: You want to do this before any emotional judgment. As CEOs and leaders, often we’ve created a great product and it’s a struggle to market it/get traction from those early adopters. The data enables us to be a little more objective than subjective.
- Weekly reviews: Say you were running two-week sprints, you may have a Friday weekly review and on a Monday you have a planning meeting. That could be to discuss what’s going on, what needs to be achieved that week. You’ll likely want a sprint fortnightly review or ‘retro’ also to determine what’s been achieved in that whole sprint, or what needs to be reallocated or deferred.
- Accelerate, delay or replace: One of the things that we find with tech CEOs, especially with all of the hats that they’re wearing and the excess of ideas and initiatives happening within the different teams, is to think about what to do when something new comes in during your 90-Day Plan. Does this idea accelerate, delay or replace an existing initiative? We only have a certain amount of resources, and we may have to reallocate those resources in such a way as to create energy behind an initiative. We’ve only got so much focus and time available to us.
- Day 75: If you are planning for the next quarter, look at Day 75 of the 90 Day Plan for this quarter. If you ran Jan-Dec, you need to look at planning your Q2 for the year in mid-March, or your Q3 planning around mid-June. That will enable you to do that thorough problem identification and that root cause analysis.
- Milestone metrics: Be sure you have bi-weekly milestone metrics to measure progress against. We covered this previously, but it’s really about having those key results and bi-weekly measures you can measure yourself against as well. We’ve got to be agile in the startup world and if we get to a sprint review we need to be able to react accordingly.
So just to recap on what we covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of this masterclass, we’ve looked at the following questions:
- What’s the analysis I need to do first?
- How do I structure my sales strategy?
- How do I structure a realistic and executable plan?
- What should a plan look like?
- What are the best practices for smartly executing my plan?
If you’re interested in checking out the Q&A section at the end of this masterclass, head on over to the recording here (from 23:00).