B2B Sales has never been more complex, but three core processes remain vital for Tech Start-ups to generate consistent & sustainable revenue…

In 1964, when sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke predicted the emergence of the internet, he displayed remarkable prescience about how advancements in communication would shape the world of work. Absent from his prophecy is just how complicated doing business in 2022 would turn out to be. Clarke’s famous BBC interview may not have been quite as compelling had it focussed on “B2B Sales of the future”, but he’d have saved today’s tech start-ups quite the headache.

Thankfully for tech founders, we’re here 58 years later to provide some guidance about the current state of play for B2B sales. This article explains:

  • How the B2B Customer Buying Journey has changed over the last decade
  • Which three fundamental processes you still need to get right for your tech start-up to grow
  • Steps that your start-up can take to ensure that these processes are followed

Tech Start-ups Today

Sales For Startups’ research tells us that in today’s fast-paced & dynamic tech start-up industry, most B2B companies operate a total of 24 core business processes. These span everything from Finance through to Research & Development. Before you begin a mental count of all that’s taking place in your organisation, rest assured that no start-up has everything nailed down perfectly.

The majority of consultancy work that we provide clients, focuses on implementing & improving all 10 of the commercial processes that directly impact how B2B tech start-ups:

  1. Build predictable revenue
  2. Deliver value to clients
  3. Generate future investment

B2B Sales Fundamentals: Lead, Sales & Nurture

The successful execution of these commercial processes will ultimately dictate the potential for your company to grow. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are a number of fundamental processes that are vital to get right. In particular the three covered in this article have been imperative to driving business growth since the dawn of time:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Sales activity
  3. Nurture client relationships

“Without these three essential ingredients, no tech start-up can scale to their full potential” – James Ker-Reid, CEO – Sales For Startups.

So in spite of their importance, why are so many start-up founders today finding that the task of effectively implementing Lead, Sales & Nurture processes into their B2B sales strategy is more difficult than ever before?

Evolution of the B2B Sales & Buying Processes

As the internet has evolved (especially over the last decade), the same advancements in technology & infrastructure that have generated a wave of opportunity for new tech start-ups to ride, have also created a fiercely competitive environment.

B2B Sales: A Buyers Market

With more tech start-ups launching than at any other time, buyers find themselves with more choice than ever before. Customers are also able to switch technology partners more freely; no longer wedded to providers by lengthy contracts or costly investment, as was the norm in the pre-SaaS days.

Factoring in the vast sums of cash in the tech start-up space & the presence of Big Tech, gone are the days when founders could rely solely on the strength of their product to gain a competitive edge. While none of this will be news to you, it’s all too easy to overlook the impact that rapid developments have had on how you sell to your customers.

The Impact On B2B Sales

Back in the good old days (before Tim Cook & Mark Zuckerberg ruled the world), B2B sales was both a simple & linear affair:

A diagram that shows the old, linear B2B sales process

Ten years ago, implementing Lead, Sales & Nurture processes into your B2B sales strategy would have been straightforward. Chiefly because: Lead, Sales & Nurture processes would have been your entire B2B sales strategy. 

But tech start-ups are now vying for attention in an ecosystem where their customers are more connected than ever. The decision makers that you speak to have never had so much information at their fingertips; & much of it will be distracting or contradictory to what you are telling them.

In its 2019 CSO Update Report, US research company Gartner proposes that “The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling, it is actually our customers’ struggle to buy.” You can get a sense of what they mean by this in the diagram below:

A diagram displaying the complex B2B Customer Buying Journey

Source: CSO Update Report – Gartner, 2019

If it seems complex, that’s because it is. One of the foundations on which we’ve built a successful consultancy business, is our expertise navigating the B2B sales maze of misalignment, conflicting data & feedback loops. We’ve now helped c.70 tech start-ups between Seed to Series A funding rounds, cut through the noise & get their message across clearly, to the right people.

Whether you’re aiming for Unicorn growth or shoring up your existing revenue streams, building a bulletproof B2B sales strategy to get ahead of the competition won’t happen overnight. Incorporating Lead, Sales & Nurture processes & executing them effectively will require thorough planning. 

As one of the greatest ever technical innovators, Alexander Bell once said: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”.

To help with this, we’ve pointed out some of the immediate actions that your B2B tech start-up should be taking:

B2B Sales Actions

Below, we’ve pooled together some important steps that many tech start-up founders overlook when growing B2B sales:

Problem (Lead)

  • What problem does your product help customers to solve?
  • Your clients will only consider investing in a new solution that solves a clear & pressing challenge
  • Make sure that this is clearly defined in all of your client B2B sales messaging

Discovery (Lead)

  • Buyers will undertake a rigorous discovery process to find the best fit for their requirements
    • Unless you operate in a specialised niche, it’s unlikely that prospects will even know your company name
    • During their research, customers will be exposed to huge amounts of content: Whitepapers, Blog Posts, Online Ads, Competitor Websites & more…
  • List all of the steps that your prospective clients take before engaging with you
  • How can you ensure that customers hear your message as soon as possible?
  • How does it simplify their decision making?
  • Are you currently doing enough to advance past Discovery in the B2B sales process?

Qualification (Sales)

  • Most customers will engage directly with competitors & other third parties: taking part in sales calls & email chains, attending meetings, webinars & events
  • How can you simplify the buying journey early on for your clients?

B2B Sales Tip: Make buying simple for your clients

  • Align your sales & marketing efforts to deliver consistent messaging at every stage
    • Provide concise & trustworthy information about how your product can help them throughout
  • Be present in as much of the process as possible

Set Clear Goals (Lead / Sales / Nurture)

  • Ensure that all of your Lead, Sales & Nurture processes are outcome driven. These could include:
    • Improving customer experience
    • Increasing spend
    • Driving referrals
    • Ensuring reactivations to drive ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue)
  • Does your team (Sales, Marketing, Product, Onboarding & Customer Success) know what these outcomes are?
  • Are they focused on these?
  • Kim Atherton, CEO & Co-Founder of just3things, advocates using OKRs (Outcome & Key Results)
  • She emphasises that “any company can become customer-centric if they take a shift from output to outcome seriously”. Discover how by:

Create a single source of Truth (Lead / Sales / Nurture)

  • With so many customer touchpoints, it can be challenging to keep track of just one prospect
  • As your business scales & you work on multiple opportunities at different stages, this problem quickly becomes magnified
  • If you struggle under mountains of email threads & spreadsheets you are missing out on new opportunities & buying signals from prospects
  • Implement a CRM that all client facing staff can access & update

  • Our preferred CRM Partner is HubSpot. But whichever platform you choose, ensure that it is:
    • Cost effective, quick & straightforward to implement
    • Accessible for all of your team & easy to use
    • Has solid reporting capability
    • Capable of automated workflows

Plan Effective Workflows (Lead / Sales / Nurture)

  • Updating your CRM shouldn’t be a box ticking exercise
  • Plan consistent workflows that are triggered by events
  • James Ker-Reid discusses some of these triggers in his recent webinar, WCIT Entrepreneurship Panel. These could include:
    • Lifecycle Stage changes
    • Loss Reason triggers
    • Form Submission
    • Event Attendance
    • Page View(s)
    • Social Media interactions
    • Additional reading suggestions
    • Internal capacity

Empathise with your Clients (Nurture)

  • Take a step back & put yourself in the buyer’s shoes
  • What are your prospects & clients thinking at each step of the Customer Buying Journey?
  • It’s easy to assume what your clients are feeling. James explains this in the WCIT webinar, using “The 5 Keys”:
    1. Expressed Interest = This might help
    2. Discovery Call = Tell me a bit more
    3. Problem Fit = Is this who & what we want
    4. Solution Presentation = Will this work for us & is it a priority
    5. Closed / Won = Let’s get started

Review (Lead / Sales / Nurture)

  • What Lead, Sales & Nurture processes do you currently have in place?
  • Are they linear, or do they factor across the multiple stages of the Customer Buying Journey?

A Quick B2B Sales Summary

The steps included in this article aren’t a definitive plan to reach a $bn valuation. But, by following them, you’ll be on your way to incorporating Lead, Sales & Nurture processes as part of your overall B2B sales strategy. This will give your tech start-up the best chance of generating consistent & sustainable revenue, leading to growth.

For more B2B sales Advice, Information & Networking…

  • For more advice on how to put these steps in place, why not Book A Call with us?
  • You can also find articles, webinars & other useful resources about how to grow your tech start-up on our Insights Page
  • For a better understanding of OKRs & planning for growth sign up to our next Founder Fireside Chat on 28th Jan with guest Kim Atherton, Co-founder & CEO of just3things
  • If you’re a tech start-up Founder & you’re interested in collaborating, networking, sharing ideas & accessing exclusive resources, apply to join our new community: The Founders Collective on LinkedIn
James Ker-Reid, Founder and CEO of Sales for Startups joins Les Green, Managing Partner at Lex Associates LLP on the WCIT Entrepreneurship Panel to discuss commercial and sales processes, product feedback and selecting skillsets for success.

A startup may be born from an idea, but it’s the people who build and grow it.

Operations management will help startups define the processes of what works and doesn’t work for your business and manage the continual improvement process to ensure it remains aligned to the company’s vision.

Last month we welcomed Rhys Linton our Operations Manager to the Sales for Startups team.

Can you tell me a little about your background and previous experience? 

I spent a number of years working in Operations within complex, geographically dispersed environments.

I am also an accredited Business Analyst with the IIBA and BCS, as well as Project Manager with APM. 

Since joining the Sales for Startups team, can you share some key observations?

It’s been a really enjoyable first 6 weeks or so. The team has been extremely welcoming, and supportive of me in my new role. 

There is certainly a strong drive towards high-level achievement, operating at speed as well as an understanding and appreciation of the value of change. 

In your opinion, how have business processes changed in the wake of Covid-19?

Enormously. COVID has changed the business landscape arguably forever, and has forced businesses to operate remotely. This has meant changes have had to be accepted around collaboration, client/staff engagement, as well as challenging our own expectations of what ‘should be done’.

Covid-19 has also acted as the catalyst for many businesses to take a more thorough approach to how they operate today and how they can improve from within first.

How important is it for businesses to have an operations playbook?

What does the best version of this look like? If you don’t know what you do, how can you make it better? How can you find ways to improve? How do you measure success?

Having an understanding of your baseline and how your business should operate is essential to a sustainable and scalable business. There is no best version from my experience. I have seen these housed in documents with success, as well as more sophisticated methods used unsuccessfully.

The key is embedding this into your operation so that the wider team understands a) what should I do and why, and b) the importance of continuous improvement.

What is the end goal working with Sales for Startups?

My goal is to:

a) provide SFS with a baseline of their current operating model

b) utilise this to assemble a bespoke and comprehensive reporting process

c) embed a continuous improvement philosophy to the way we approach our systems and processes both internally and externally.

How often should company’s invest in reviewing their operations?

This is more of an open response. For me, every 3-6 months is a reasonable review period once the as-is is understood, however the culture must be built to create an environment where improvement opportunities and issues are discussed honestly and frequently. 

What are your top tips for scaling business operations?

There are 3 key considerations. Understand, Improve and Measure.

You simply cannot reliably scale your business without a detailed understanding of how it runs today.

You can certainly get by with a degree of intuitive understanding, or you may even strike lucky, however, this is the only way of guaranteeing success.

You must then identify areas in which the as-is processes can be improved, before identifying reliable and consistent ways to measure these improvements and the impact of your decision-making. 

If you have followed the Sales for Startups journey to date, then you will be aware of the challenge to getting your recruitment right, and the potentially devastating repercussions for getting this wrong.

Part of our ongoing commitment to the Founders we support is to provide access to the very best expertise. We continue to expand our partnership network to ensure that we connect with specialists in every field. We truly believe in the power of collaboration and the value of specialisation.

On that note, it is with great pleasure that I introduce the latest company to join our partner network: Thrive. Thrive unlocks enterprise science, on-demand to solve the hiring challenges of startups. Trusted by SMEs, Thrive has conducted over 30 million candidate assessments across 90 countries, in 40 different languages.

The first tests of this kind were developed at the University of Cambridge in the 1880s, and in the years that have followed, psychometric testing has expanded to cover two broad areas: cognitive tests and personality tests.

Thrive’s assessments provide measurable, objective data that can give you a better all-round view of a candidate’s suitability.

Psychometric testing offers ‘scientific’ credibility and objectivity to the process of recruiting, which is often led by pure gut instinct. It ultimately provides a more fair and accurate way of assessing a candidate, as all applicants will be given a standardised test.

When it comes to staffing your startup, the price is high. In fact, your hiring decisions are vital to the success and upward trajectory of your startup.

“We’re delighted to join the Sales for Startups Partner Network and continue to enable tech Founders to understand, evaluate and expand their teams. Together with Sales for Startups we can re-define how technology businesses improve company performance.”

Emma Hatto – Co-Founder & Commercial Director, Thrive

“With this partnership we can offer our clients and tech community further access and expertise to a proven selection methodology and a way of analysing existing talent, so we’re delighted to welcome Thrive to the Sales for Startups partner community..”

James Ker-Reid – CEO and Founder, Sales for Startups

The importance of making sales recruiting a priority

1: Hiring the right people is transformative

You cannot transform unmotivated or unwilling employees into top performers. Regardless of the amount of training and development opportunities you provide. You need to hire for personality and train for skills.

Effective recruitment and selection of salespeople is critical to the survival and development of your startup. Without the best team, you could be eliminated through tough competition in today’s market.

2: Success breeds success

Your profitability is based on the successful sale of your products or services to customers. And who deals with these customers? Who finds them, nurtures them, and closes them? Your salespeople.

Sales personality types aren’t just important for knowing whether a person will make a good salesperson, they will also drive their selling methods. Every company is unique and your hiring algorithms should be too. With Thrive you pick further assessments from a wide range of available modules to suit your company’s requirements and define the salespeople who will succeed in your environment.

3: Use science to be objective

Unconscious hiring bias can lead to bad hiring decisions and as humans, we are hardwired to make quick decisions, judgements and misplaced assumptions. The right assessments give you objective scientific data helping you make an informed decision that goes beyond any CV or hiring manager.

Thrive ranks candidates based on an overall score. A proprietary backed, scientific formula validates the candidate’s overall suitability, gathering all assessment results into just one score. Then you can drill down into each candidate to see the breakdown of how they performed.

You can’t afford to get it wrong

Recruiting your sales team takes a lot of time and energy. Getting it wrong is extraordinarily expensive. Thrive’s research shows that one bad hire can cost your business £50,000. It can be argued that no business can afford to lose £50,000 on a bad hire, but for a startup that could end your company.

Getting it right can mean you’re on the way to repeatable growth and success. Increase your sales and productivity with Sales for Startups and be consistent, fair, ethical and rigorous while saving time and money in your recruitment selection with Thrive.

Team culture is much more important than you think. In a previous article we discussed the opportunity startups have to create a clean slate when it comes to establishing the culture and benefits they want for their employees. 

In the last 18 months we have seen businesses forced into remote working. With more and more people working from home and the prospect of hybrid work environments becoming a reality, it is time to shift your focus from getting business back to normal and instead focus on instilling a culture that exceeds the office. 

Maintaining your usual company culture and office vibes when people aren’t actually in the office can be incredibly challenging, but it is not impossible. We’ve compiled a list of tips for maintaining company culture while remotely working: 

1. Open and transparent lines of communication

Transparency is one of the fundamentals to maining a company culture. It is vital for everyone, from entry level employees to business owners, to be honest in their actions and interactions. 

Engaged employees invest their full potential into the success of a company that they are proud to work in. Create a positive, inclusive workplace and encourage employees to share their successes and challenges. 

2. Set clear objectives and goals 

By outlining the objectives of each team, employees will have tangible results to work toward. Make sure that there is space and time for feedback to adapt forecasts and KPIs when needed. 

One-to-ones can help to clarify the sales team’s objectives as a collective, coach individuals on their role to play in achieving the overarching goal and identify areas for improvement. Regular meetings help to bridge the gap between seniors and entry level. This strengthens relationships, reinforces the company’s mission and creates a motivated work environment. 

3. Trust your team

By showing trust and confidence in your employees ability to own their work you will maintain a positive company culture and avoid a blame culture. Research shows that employees in a trusted environment are more productive. 

Given that the pandemic has already increased people’s stress levels and in some cases demotivated their work ethic in regards to work, it could be detrimental to pile distrust on top. With the lack of physical interaction amongst employees it can be easy for trust issues to develop. 

I have witnessed some managers responding to this challenge by forcing teams into constant Zoom meetings or trying to micromanage every aspect of the working day. Instead I would urge managers to show faith in employees ability and work from a position of ‘asking for forgiveness not permission’. 

4. Schedule regular catch-ups and informal meetings

During these trying times, there has been a lot of focus on physical health, but it is important to not underestimate the importance of mental health. Start by evaluating the ‘meeting culture’ in your company. If you constantly have your team in meetings to discuss things that could be sent in an email or via an instant messaging app, it could be negatively impacting morale and lead to losses in productivity. 

Studies have found the 8% Rule, which states that 8% of the time in any meeting should be dedicated to fun virtual team building exercises. 

5. Implement the right technology and onboard the team

The technology landscape has skyrocketed in the last few years with new and exciting entrants promising new ways to solve unique challenges we never knew we had. There is of course a lot of competition amongst vendors, particularly within the sales technology domain. 

The fundamental things you need to consider when implementing new technologies is: 

  • Why do I need this technology?
  • Can it integrate with my existing stack? 
  • How long will the onboarding process be?
  • Who is going to train my employees to use it?

From years witnessing the expense of implementing the wrong technology or receiving resistance from sales teams my advice would be to collaborate on the decision and assess the needs the technology meets for each department. 

The most effective company cultures value people, provide career growth, adapt to meet customer needs, and deliver great results to shareholders. But a lot of culture is subjective. Find the culture that works best for your company and your employees.

Analysing Sales, Marketing & Financial Data To Give CEOs True Insights On What Matters Most

We are delighted to announce a new partnership between Sales for Startups and Lumilinks, the data A.I. experts who use deep scientific knowledge to streamline data processes for organisations that include leading venture capital and tech companies.

In a world where deciphering data can make or break a business, it’s becoming ever more critical – especially for SaaS startups – to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and automation to get the data they need.

Having always championed the need for data-driven decisions to sustain successful sales strategies here at Sales for Startups, we are excited to incorporate the insights powered by the Lumilinks platforms for executive decision making, sales & marketing and financial risk reporting.

Familiar with the pressures startup founders face and the real danger of burnout in a climate where performance and pace can become confused, we see this partnership as an opportunity to elevate our offering and expertise in building and optimising sales and marketing operations for B2B tech startups.

Quote from Sales for Startups, James Ker-Reid, CEO & Founder at Sales for Startups:

“The real opportunity for Tech Founders is to understand the relationship between sales, marketing and finance data and be able to draw a straight line from the top to the bottom line. I’m excited to incorporate the Lumilinks’ platforms into our offering for Seed and Series A tech companies. Being all too familiar with the challenges startups face, the opportunity to automate data collection and analyse key insights and cross-department trends collated by A.I. seems a no-brainer to me. It’s been on my wish list for a while!

“Tech Founders, of SaaS startups especially, are under incredible pressure to stay informed and up-to-date to make iterative changes to their sales and marketing strategy by their board and key investors. I see the partnership between Sales for Startups and Lumilinks as another way we can alleviate the strain startups face in searching for actionable insights and hence making data-driven decisions to affect their top and bottom line.”

Quote from Lumilinks, Gary Cole, Founder at Lumilinks:

“We work to demystify the world of data by creating custom dashboards for companies. Having established Lumilinks to counter the common problem of organisations integrating inefficient solutions that distract rather than direct senior decision-making, we’re proud to have streamlined processes for organisations including, Selbey Anderson and organisations under the Microsoft for Startups programme. Our team have also advised Local and national government and the Office of National Statistics.

Working in partnership with Sales for Startups, we’re excited to support Founders of SaaS startups to really understand their sales efficiency and velocity at their company. This includes examining current sales behaviours, key revenue trends, optimising their marketing spend by finding their best addressable market and finally spotting those two or three bottlenecks to their cash conversion cycle. What I love about our partnership is that we’ll give Sales for Startups the data insights they need and then they’ll use their expertise and experience in sales execution to implement the changes that make the difference.”

In joining forces, Sales for Startups and Lumilinks can provide clients with a superior understanding of their marketing, sales and financial performance and hence understand the efficiency of their SaaS sales operations.

To find out more please book a free consultation call with 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.


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.


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.


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.

The VP of Sales can be a very costly hiring mistake to any startup. Imagine not only the salary but the other associated costs like recruiter fees, NI, software licensing, commission, etc. If you get it wrong, it can cost your company dearly, but if you get it right, they can double your revenue in 6 months.

I’m choosing to focus on the latter and what tactics you can use to stack the deck more in your favour.

Typically, there are 5 types of VP:

  • Mentors: They are charismatic and measure their success by exceeding revenue goals and fostering success. They are hands-off and firmly believe in the consultative selling approach.
  • Expressives: They are charming and gregarious individuals who have a natural ability to put people at ease. They favour big deal closing and not mundane tasks.
  • Sergeants: Loyalty means everything to them. They are hard workers who are constantly worrying if their ‘troops’ are okay.
  • Overconfidents: They’re at the opposite end of the humility spectrum from Sergeants. They build a sales team of fighting gladiators who possess extraordinary willpower and mental toughness.
  • Micros: They are organised and methodical, and have a strong sense of responsibility to their company. They hire salespeople who they know will carry out their instructions to the letter.

Ask yourself, what type of person would fit in well with your team culturally? What type of personality do you think you really need?

Once you have figured this out, don’t get sucked into the idea that – because they have been a VP at Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe, etc. – they can work in startups. They will be used to much larger companies, budgets, support, brands upon which to lean, etc. All things considered, they are likely to get frustrated by the lack of support so you might part ways quite quickly.

Consider instead exactly what job you are trying to get done. Recruit and hire those people that have done that job with a company that is at the same stage as you. Are you building? Are you maintaining? Are you culling? If you are a startup, it is likely you are building; building the team, building product-market fit, building investor confidence, building a loyal customer base, etc. Look for people who have done the job that you want need doing before, and not just because they have been at a large enterprise as a VP.

Your VP should be paid well (on success) – consider Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR, your growth in qualified leads MoM) as opposed to Pipeline. As an aside, consider targeting your LVR to be x% over MMR targets. One fundamental responsibility of your VP should be to hire and train sellers to sell themselves. Only a fraction of their time (20%) should go on closing deals.

Three stats have stuck out when writing this article, trying to answer the question of ‘Why should I create a Revenue Operations (or RevOps) strategy?’. There are three major reasons:

So, that’s why you should care. Now, how to create your own RevOps strategy.

You may recall that RevOps stitches together Marketing, Sales and Customer Success. By having these three revenue units working in concert you create a well-oiled machine.

My advice would be to focus on the outcomes that you want a RevOps department to achieve. I feel they can be broken down into five different outcomes:

  1. Consistent tech stacks
  2. Clear expectations from customers
  3. Happier customers
  4. More sales/revenue
  5. Predictable growth

If those are the outcomes you are trying to achieve, then the inputs to these can be broken down into the following four categories:

  • Get all teams on data: What I mean is to make data-driven decisions the norm for your business. Gone are the days that gut and intuition take precedence. Having clean and up-to-date data is paramount for any revenue organisation.
  • Align incentives: For example, Marketing must bring leads to Sales, Sales must convert those leads into good customers, and Customer Success must retain them. Simply thinking of it like this aligns everyone closely and you don’t fall victim to the dreaded silo!
  • Agree on tech stack: In a perfect world, your business would run off one piece of software and there be no additional requirement. However, this can’t happen. If you’re able to consolidate where you can, integrate technology wherever possible and have the relevant people becoming subject matter experts, then high-quality tech saves a huge amount of time. It’s even easier if it’s all cloud-based too and not on site!
  • Get your CRO on board: You need someone on board right? The person that is marshaling this whole effort is your CRO. Typically this person will have been a senior VP of one of the three RevOps departments (not always, but typically) and will be obsessed with answering the question ‘How do we convert a stranger into a customer in the quickest way possible?’.

Using this framework will enable you to start creating your strategy. A strategy is a great piece of work to do, however the other critical document to accompany this is the implementation plan. At Sales for Startups, we have created these dozens of times over in the B2B tech space, especially for SaaS companies.

Effective sales coaching is iterative, individualised, and inclusive. It’s designed to reinforce positive behaviour or correct negative behaviour. Typically part of each salesperson’s daily or weekly routine, sales coaching is focused on skills and techniques rather than numbers.

Sales is a very individual pursuit, and often those who are involved in sales don’t like to be told what to do. Bearing this in mind, it is worth considering how you can use this individual to help self-diagnose where the development areas could be. This will increase buy-in and ultimately take-up of any coaching regimen.

From my experience there are four things to bear in mind when trying to coach your high performers:

  1. Be specific with regards to opportunity management: It has now been well-publicised that the best managers/coaches are offering advice on specific opportunities to be led by the rep where the coach can be most effective. Ask your reps to consider which specific deals they require assistance with, or where you as the coach can be the most valuable. This is as opposed to a blanket approach to all deals, which is not scalable either!
  2. Use a variety of techniques: For your one-to-one meetings, or off-the-cuff discussions with your salespeople, try varying the frequency of them, the duration, and the topics you discuss (with a healthy dose of realism too). This last point is especially important when it comes to forecasting and pipeline health. Using inspection questions per deal can help the salesperson realise that their pipeline is not as robust as they might have thought, therefore coaching on qualification might be an idea.
  3. Cross-pollinate team strengths: It is likely that salespeople in your team are going to be stronger at certain skills than others. If you identify a salesperson who is particularly good with lead generation, one with rapport building, one with negotiation, etc. – turn them into mini-coaches and get them to coach others on what they do, upskilling everyone in the process.
  4. Create a coaching environment that is skills-based: A bad coach would tell you to simply do more, whereas a good coach will understand the skills required to do more and then drill those to make them second nature. For example, making more calls could be the goal but there are sessions connected with this to do with mindset, where to get leads, which leads to prioritise, which leads to score and how to score, etc.

There will always be hidden talents in your office and team, so look internally for the skills already in place and leverage your incumbent resources. You might be surprised!