Whether you’re a CEO, hold a senior position or are just starting out, team members at startups often need to wear many hats. The chaotic nature of working for a new business requires you to be ready for anything. At times, however, it can be helpful to bring in specialists, especially when it comes to sales. That’s where sales consultants come in, but just how can they help startups grow and achieve its targets? 

What is a sales consultant?

All businesses need a functioning sales and marketing setup, whether they’ve been going for six months or six years. The size of the department (or departments) depends on the stage of the company. Newer businesses are unlikely to separate sales and marketing, and it might be the case that just one or two people head up the department and look after both aspects. 

This is where a sales consultant is beneficial, as they come into the business and provide an overview of sales. They will conduct and review practices and processes, implementing ideas designed to help the business reach its sales objectives. 

What’s the difference between a sales consultant and a sales consultancy? 

Whether you work with one sales consultant or a sales consultancy, their job is essentially the same. It involves helping your business sell more products or services by putting a process in place that can help the company move forward. 

A sales consultant is just one person who may work for themselves, while a sales consultancy is a company set up to help businesses with their sales and, in some cases, marketing. Some times a startup may prefer working with a sales consultancy as it offers more access to resources. 

Why should startups use sales consultants?

1) Assess your company

The first thing a sales consultant will do involves looking at your current set up. That’s not to say they’ll rip the process apart completely, but they should be able to identify areas where the team is doing well and how they can improve efficiency and close more deals. They’ll be able to spot possible opportunities and gaps to grow your business. 

2 ) Offer an outside perspective

When you’re in the belly of the beast, it can be hard to look at the overall picture objectively. A sales consultant won’t have this problem, however. They will provide a different perspective and see things from a completely unbiased point of view as there’s no previous attachment. Consequently, they can go about recommending the necessary changes needed to drive the business forward. 

3) Developing skills

A sales consultant can get your sales team up and running, equipping them with a new set of skills so they become better sales people. The consultant can look at many different aspects of the process and help with factors like time management, social media expertise, cold calling techniques and how to follow up with leads. As a result, your reps can gain an advantage over the competition by having extra insights to tap into.  

4) Management

A sales consultant can also help you manage the team directly, tapping into the expertise to ensure the sales division is performing to its optimum. If necessary, they can step in and provide coaching and direction, using their experience to improve your sales reps both individually and as a team. 

5) Turn more leads into sales

The ultimate goal of a sales consultant is to get your team generating more leads and converting them into customers. And that’s exactly what a good consultant does. The majority of them will have an area where they specialise (SaaS, for example) and know how to identify the right type of leads for your industry, allowing the business to focus on converting high-quality prospects. 

Startups x sales consultants

A sales consultant can be the perfect tonic for a startup. They’ll help them define a process and offer structure to the sales side of the business. When done right, the result is an increase in quality leads and more sales that help move your startups in the right direction. 

The number of SaaS businesses continues to rise in line with the high demand. With more companies operating in the space, it’s only natural to expect increased competition. But how can a SaaS startup stand out from the crowd? One way involved using sales consultants or a sales consultancy to improve sales and put a process in place designed to help your company grow. With that in mind, we’ve put this guide together looking at why SaaS businesses benefit from working with sales consultancy. 

A third-party perspective

Startups can be chaotic by nature, especially in the SaaS field. There are often continued tweaks to the products and new features added. Therefore, getting consultancy support with relevant experience who can guide the sales side of things can be smarter than going big on a Head of Sales position. 

This can be helpful as it saves resources on a full-time hire and taps into the mind of a specialist with experience in SaaS. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify issues when you’re in the business. In contrast, a fresh pair of eyes can analyse and spot inconsistencies between expectations and realities. 

A varied set of skills

SaaS consultants have the sales skills to help move the needle for your business. But they also understand the landscape and provide expertise in other areas such as software development.

They will develop a strategy to reach clients in the SaaS field while also making suggestions regarding pricing and marketing collateral to see how these elements fit in with the sales setup. Other ways they will help evolve the business include:

  • Develop an omnichannel strategy – a SaaS consultant can help devise a plan, from social media to paid ads
  • Optimise the sales funnel – stop the business from losing money due to poor conversion rates
  • Utilise SEO – recommend SEO best practices to help with organic ranking and lead generation

The primary responsibility of SaaS sales consultancy is to drive you in the right direction and increase sales. But how they go about it can potentially involve many different skills, plus testing on various platforms to see where the best outcomes lie. 

Respond to industry changes

Keeping up with the latest industry changes can be tricky when leading a company and overseeing the whole setup. A SaaS sales consultant can help narrow the focus, stepping in and offering added value by giving you insight into the latest industry trends. 

The SaaS landscape is evolving, so startups need to keep up and be ahead of the trends. A sales consultant specialising in the SaaS field can do just that, updating you on what’s happening in the industry and making recommendations, so the company always looks like a leader rather than a follower.

What services do SaaS consultants offer? 

Generate leads

SaaS sales consultants will aid the business by offering a solution designed to identify, engage and qualify verified leads – and they do so by attacking the difficulties startups face in the early stages head-on. They also understand that only one or two tactics designed for lead generation are no longer enough. 

Customer retention

New sales are vital for expanding the business, but keeping core customers happy is also vital. SaaS can tend to have higher churn rates simply because of the nature of the software and models that don’t rely on long-term subscriptions. A consultant can review current processes and look at how to increase the volume of customers staying with the service for longer. 

Marketing

The marketing aspect might not be the priority of a sales consultant, but they’ll understand its role in the sales cycle. Therefore, you can expect them to have input, whether helping build a strategy or recommending the right people to work with. 

Saas consultants

Using a sales consultant can get your SaaS business moving in the right direction. They bring their expertise, understanding of the sector and speciality in all things SaaS. As a result, consultants can advise and put the right strategies in place to help your startup grow. 

We know all too well about cliched sales mantras, such as ‘there’s no “I” in team’. But without a high performance from each rep, your sales team doesn’t operate to its capacity. That means you need top performances across the board. And in this guide, we’re bringing you seven tips to improve sales performance for the whole team. 

1) Have a sales playbook

Many sales reps fail because there is no structure when joining the team. In order to be successful in your industry, you need to build a proven sales playbook first, scaling the sales team after the playbook is successful. Sales reps can then execute against the playbook, boosting morale and getting the right results for everyone involved. 

2) Organisation is key

Keeping everyone in the team focused is no easy feat, but it’s essential for improving sales performance. If your team isn’t taking the right strides to achieve their tasks, disappointment will ensue. Help with their organisation by asking team members to walk you through workflows so you can potentially suggest improvements or see if they’re on the right track. 

3) Champion collaboration

Sales teams struggle to exist in isolation, so it’s good to provide synergy between other teams and the prospects you chase. That’s right; fostering a culture of collaboration goes further than internal players. Working with prospects builds better relationships and gives you and the team more insight into their problems. Your leads are key players in helping sales reps avoid underperformance

4) Embrace sales reporting rolls

You can’t go wrong with sales reporting tools. They provide more clarity about how individuals perform and your team as a whole. With sales reporting, you can drill down a variety of metrics to better understand the areas where sales reps may need some extra help. A sales reporting tool is essentially your third eye and gives you in-depth insights into sales performance and the business at large. 

5) Refresh your sales strategy

Remember that playbook? What worked at first will need constant fine-tuning and refinement to ensure it stays relevant in its vertical. Regularly reviewing your playbook keeps things fresh for your sales reps and ensures everyone keeps evolving. You can measure results against the earlier versions of the playbook and watch your team thrive.

6) Set goals above job expectations

You need high energy to be in sales, and ambitious professionals typically fulfil these roles. Therefore, you should set goals that allow them to go further than breaking their sales targets. Doing so can keep team members working hard and even leave some wiggle room if they fall short. 

7) Celebrate your wins

When a sales rep achieves a win, take a moment to celebrate it. Careers are filled with ups and downs, and it’s good to acknowledge both. Improving weakness is necessary, but so is recognising the good moments and celebrating the success of both individual reps and the team. 

Top-notch sales reps

Consistency is the key to improving your sales reps’ performance. By following the tips in this guide, you can put the foundation in place for a high-performance culture that sees reps going above and beyond to surpass their targets and put the business on an upward trajectory.  

Never underestimate the power of a sales report. With them, managers can monitor the team’s performance and pinpoint areas for improving the sales process. On top of that, you can plan strategies, forecast business and get a better overall picture of your sales setups. With that in mind, we’re looking at the power of sales reporting and how it can help your startups. 

What is sales reporting, and why is it important?

Sales reporting allows you to keep track of information during each sales process step. From analysing data to predict where the company can be successful to monitoring performance, sales reporting tools offer insights into every facet of your sales strategy, operations and analysis. 

Businesses that place importance on sales reporting have a better overview of how everything works. They can see what’s happening with sales volumes, look at alternative steps in the funnel and track the effectiveness of sales reps. It’s essentially a deep dive into your entire sales operation. 

What should be in a sales report?

It can be challenging to know where to start when leaning into sales reporting, especially since so many metrics are on offer. However, it’s good to start with some basic numbers by first focusing on your company’s growth demands. These may include the number of prospects, size of deals, close rate, sales length and cost per lead. Reviewing these metrics can help you build out your sales strategy and aim for specific goals

Different types of sales reports

Sales reporting lets you customise a set of metrics to cater to the businesses’ needs. You can pay attention to specific processes, gaining more insight into particular setups. For example, you might pinpoint one aspect of your sales process, and a sales report allows you to dig a little deeper. Common sales reports include:

  • All deals won – the number of deals successfully won over a specific period.
  • All deals lost – check the number of deals lost over a certain period of time
  • Won by sales reps – which deals are won by individual sales reps? 
  • Weighted sales forecast – assess your position, so you know how much money will actually be generated in the given period.

There are so many different layers to sales reporting, and it doesn’t just cover the points above. Essentially, you can gain information on any aspect of your sales, focusing on the team, the process or a bit of both. 

Sales reporting can increase high performance

When focusing on sales reps, sales reporting can help promote a high sales performance culture. The reports play a pivotal role in determining what training reps need and which aspects of the sales process they should focus on. 

A sales report can detect if a rep is only achieving 3% of their 10% target for, let’s say, increasing revenue from a current customer. With the sales report, you can identify this metric and implement the necessary actions to help the rep reach their 10% goal and avoid sales underperformance

The importance of reporting

Successful sales reporting can help your startup achieve targets faster and begin scaling. A sales report provides a whole new dynamic and offers insights that can turbocharge your company’s output and increase sales.  

Reaching the desired sales targets is no easy feat. That’s why it’s essential to set realistic expectations and find the right strategy and consistency. You can also perform a few actions to ensure reps are hitting their goals and, in some cases, smashing them. Here, we look at five tips to help you measure sales KPIs and hit your sales targets. 

Do a pipeline audit

If you find that you’re not hitting targets or are running into a brick wall, it’s good to do a pipeline audit. The idea is to avoid wasting opportunities that won’t convert and end up costing you time and money. Regular pipeline audits allow you to look at who’s coming through the sales funnel and review so you can start investing your and your team’s time into opportunities that are more likely to convert.

Equip your team with the right tools

Does your team have the right tools to succeed? By utilising tools and automating specific tasks, you can free up rep’s time to ensure they are given the best opportunity to hit targets. There are many tools that a salesperson can utilise, such as a CRM or lead management system that allows your team to engage with prospects. Companies that make data-driven decisions tend to be around 6% more productive than those that don’t use data. Be the forward-thinking startup that uses data to move onto the next level. 

Use gamification

Sales gamification isn’t popular with all setups, but it can thrive under the right conditions. Indeed, it can be one of the best ways to stop underperforming and improve your sales team’s overall output. With gamification, sales leaders use gaming elements in business scenarios. These include a points-based system, leaderboards and rewards. It’s simple to implement but can be highly effective.

Personalise your outreach

It might sound like a simple task, but there are still way too many salespeople who copy and paste a message in the hope of getting some traction. That’s not to say you have to send a custom message to every single prospect but look at finding a template you can tweak for each customer. The core of the message will feature the benefits of your offering while allowing room for edits where you can personalise the message. Consequently, the recipient feels like they’re receiving something written for them and no one else. 

Use social media

You only need to look on LinkedIn to see the swathes of business leaders using the platform to make connections and further progress their business. But what about the other social media platforms? Don’t neglect the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even TikTok for acquiring new leads. Picking up the phone is still important, but there are more than three billion people using social media – an unimaginable reach even 10 years ago. Use it to your advantage and research platforms to find your ideal target audience. 

A winning sales approach

Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure you reach your sales targets. The tips in this guide can help you get off on the right foot as you try new methods and see what works best for your startups. The result will be an uptick in sales and a more confident approach to the market. 

An underperforming sales rep can be problematic, but that doesn’t mean you need to begin the dismissal process. All is not lost, and there are specific actions you can take to avoid sales underperformance that gets your reps on track while achieving sales targets. Here, we’re looking at how to correct sales underperforming and even prevent it altogether. 

How to avoid sales underperformance in a nutshell

  • Look at the data
  • Sales training
  • Look within first
  • Rep self-evaluation

Place importance on the data

Look at the data before making any firm decisions about what to do or how to coach your underperforming sales reps. Examine call records, the number of generated leads, lead to close ratio and contact points to see if you can spot anything abnormal that may explain why a rep is struggling. Essentially, you should take a deeper look into your sales reporting tools to find the answers. 

You may discover that a rep is underperforming because their efforts aren’t focused on the right targets. Eg, are they spending too much time trying to retain current business instead of spreading it evenly with new prospects? It may be a case of tweaking their process slightly to see better long-term results. 

Provide regular sales training

Onboarding typically contains plenty of information about your sales process and how reps should go about closing business. But what happens once they’re onboarded? Is there an ongoing learning culture, or do they get comfortable and fall into a routine? 

You can prevent poor performances by providing regular sales training to keep your reps fresh and positively challenge them. And if you do have frequent sales training, regularly review it to see where you can make improvements and keep things fresh. 

Be clear with expectations

What are you like as a leader? Do you provide clear and transparent targets for your team? Do they understand what you want? Being able to effectively communicate your expectations is an important part of a sales team achieving its goals. 

Reps should understand what you require of them. That doesn’t mean you need to micro-manage, but before you question a reps’ performance, you must ensure that you’ve communicated expectations and they fully understand your requirements. 

Help reps self evaluate

Sitting down with reps and self-evaluating has two primary benefits. It can prevent sales underperformance or get them on the right track if they’re not meeting expectations. Going over sales KPIs quarterly, at least, can have a significant positive impact. 

Reps will feel more comfortable with your management style if you can have a friendly, open and honest conversation. Plus, they’ll never need to second guess what expectations you have of them as everything will be clear and out in the open. 

Meeting targets head-on

Some of your reps will inevitably underperform at some stage, but it doesn’t mean you can’t salvage the situation. With the right steps, you can avoid underperformance or even turn low-performing reps into efficient deal closers that help keep your business reach its targets.  

Stats. It’s all about the stats. Regardless of your industry, statistical analysis gives you an insight into how everything works, what’s performing and what isn’t. A sales reporting tool is essential for sales teams to get the best results. Without one, you’re essentially tying one hand behind your back. But what are the best sales reporting tools? That’s what we’re here to find out with this guide. 

Best sales reporting tools in a snapshot

  • Pipedrive
  • Salesforce
  • NoCRM
  • Copper
  • Tableau
  • Zoho

Pipedrive

Sales teams have used Pipedrive for years now to get a better understanding of the funnel. It offers a unique sales reporting dashboard that helps break down key performance indicators and lets you identify top performers as well as which team members can improve. The ‘deal rotting’ feature is also handy, as it helps sales teams identify missed opportunities, allowing for course correction for future leads.

Salesforce

Arguably the most popular CRM software, Salesforce offers reporting software that sales leaders can use to dive deeper into the data. Sales teams have vast swathes of information at their fingertips on customer needs, pipeline efficiency, goal progression and more. Key features include interactive dashboards and customisable sales forecasting reports.  

NoCRM

Sometimes sales leaders want to cut out the noise and focus on one primary aspect: lead progression. NoCRM is lead management software that strips away many of the complications of customer relationship management systems. Sales leaders use it to progress leads through the pipeline and get a dynamic view of the sales funnel. The goal of NoCRM is to turn prospects into customers and is the ideal tool for smaller businesses with between 10 and 100 people, thanks to its simplicity.  

Tableau

With Tableau, you can quickly understand complex data. It allows teams to analyse, visualise, and share information in an easy to understand and accessible way. Identify opportunities and make data-guided decisions to improve your sales setup. While Tableau wasn’t built as a sales tool, it offers smart insights that savvy salespeople can use to their advantage. 

Copper

Copper is a popular CRM that can be used as a sales reporting tool. It was designed with G Suite users in mind, meaning you can take real advantage if Google acts as the backbone of your setups. Sales reps can manage contacts, deals, emails and files all from locations and monitor each new lead through the funnel stages. You can also automate entire sales processes, increasing the productivity of your sales team in the process. 

Zoho

Zoho is used by more than 150,000 businesses thanks to its rich set of features. You can use it for everything from sales tracking to measuring performance. Automated workflows take the pain away from manual processes, while the ‘sales trends’ feature lets teams create in-depth reports to pinpoint the latest trends. There’s an element of customisation too, meaning reps have greater control over their sales setups.

Reporting for success

These sales tools allow you to lead with data and get better insights into how your sales teams perform and their deal progressions. As a result, you can improve setups, create a smoother sales process and increase revenue using innovative analytical insights to take your startup to the next level. 

Measuring sales isn’t always as simple as looking at the number of leads converted into customers. And driving prospects to a purchase has become increasingly complex. There are more nuances involved with all aspects of sales these days, which is why sales performance tracking is needed more than ever to ensure your startup and team are on the right path. But how can you do it? Here, we’re looking at how to measure sales performance tracking. 

Sales performance tracking tips

  • Total revenue
  • Lead volume
  • Quota attainment
  • New versus existing customers
  • Revenue by territory

How to measure sales performance tracking

Total revenue

Revenue is essentially the most important metric of any business, with the total revenue measured on any time scale. This can be monthly, quarterly or annually. The most common way is annual recurring revenue (ARR), as it gives you a larger sample size. ARR can be helpful for subscription-based SaaS companies as it tells you how much to expect from a customer in a fiscal year. ARR can help companies forecast future revenue when viewed over the long term.  

Volume of leads

Closing a deal isn’t the only way to measure sales performance. The sheer volume of leads also acts as an essential metric. Using leads can be tricky as they aren’t all created equally, but tracking the number of calls, emails, and other forms of contact can indicate the level of sales performance. You’ll see how active sales reps are while also getting a better view of your funnel and how well it’s doing.

Quota attainment

With quota attainment, you look at the percentage of deals a sales rep closes concerning their set quota over a specific period. Again, it can be measured per month, quarter or year depending on your sales cycle. This sales performance-tracking metric monitors how deals close against targets and highlights reps who may benefit from more coaching or guidance. 

Percentage revenue from new and existing customers

How much of your revenue comes from existing business compared to new leads? This is an important sales performance tracking indicator because it lets you know where the lion’s share of your business goes. It can also influence strategies as you try to bridge the gap between the two and get your business to a place where it’s bringing in new business while retaining current clients.

Revenue by territory

Unless you’re a hyper-local business, there’s every chance that your customers come from all over. Using the revenue by territory metric as a KPI gives you clarity over your geo status and where the crux of your business comes from. For example, if you’re a hit with US audiences, you can focus more on creating content and sales pitches that speak directly to them. By splitting your revenue by results, you can look at where the crux of your business comes from.

It’s all in the tracking

Measuring is the name of the game. The more data points you have, the better your decisions. With the right sales performance tracking, you can set plans, change direction where necessary, and ensure your business is moving in the right direction. 

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The Typical Challenges at Pre-Seed Stage Startups

We know that getting customers is the single biggest priority for a Pre-Seed business. The difficulties in doing so often stem from a number of reasons:

  • Unclear on what your unique offer and target market is
  • Unclear on what your sales process should be
  • Not confident on how to balance sales and lead generation activities.

That means that you, as the Founder, take on the main selling effort in order to make headway. We work directly with you to secure those all important early customers.

In this eBook, we take a look at the typical challenges faced at Pre-Seed Stage startups, and how to overcome them.

The Typical Challenges at Pre-Seed Stage Startups

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9 Fatal Mistakes Startups Make

Most startups fail. It’s the nature of business and there isn’t enough room for everyone.

We have worked with over 70 successful Pre-Seed to Series A B2B tech startups. Many of these founders had businesses before, and some of those failed. We have collated a comprehensive list of the 9 fatal mistakes we have witnessed in the hopes you can avoid them.

So, what are those mistakes?

In this eBook, we take a look at the 9 mistakes tech startups make and share some of our expertise and experience.

9 Fatal Mistakes Startups Make

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