How to build a Sales machine for your startup • Slash

articles

How to build a Sales machine for your startup

February 21, 2022

Massive sales require proper planning. But is that all you need? Nope! There’s a lot more to work on in order to achieve desired outcomes. 

In our venture studio at Slash, we build 4 startups a year with co-founding partners. We have distilled our experience in building a scalable B2B sales machine into this simple article.

First Things First – Offer What Customers Desire

As the startup saying goes: 

“Life is too short to build something nobody wants. You only have two jobs! One – Find a solution users want. Two – Get many users.”

That means the first and foremost responsibility is to develop a product or offer services according to your market demand. In other words, you should learn what product can solve the issues of your potential customers or prospects’, and then approach them to assure conversion. 

Leveraging the Lean Methodology, start with the “Value Hypothesis” to test whether or not the product or service is solving customers’ problems. 

Then, begin working on the “Growth Hypothesis” or simply “Growth.”

Your Business Needs Growth

“Growth isn’t a strategy; it’s a result.” – Andries De Vos, CEO Slash

It is a common misconception that product-driven businesses don’t require sales. That’s a total myth. 

Studies show that the top 36 US-listed SaaS companies spent 2x more on sales & marketing than on R&D, throughout their lifetimes!

Choose Your Growth Path to Get First 100 Customers

Growth is simple:

Product + Users = Growth

If you want to get the first 100 customers for your business, you will likely need to focus on these three ways of growth:

  • Paid Growth
  • Viral Growth
  • Sticky Growth

Paid Growth

You use your money to market your product/service in paid growth. However, you set your paid growth budget to buy users/customers less than they help you earn it. 

Paid growth is proven, but it demands a lot of money for:

  • Salespeople
  • Physical outlets
  • Research and advertisement (Google Ads, Instagram Ads, Facebook Ads, SEM, etc.)
  • SEO, Content Marketing, Press (PR)
  • And more

Viral Growth

The viral growth method has slower results, but it can eventually bring massive users/customers to your product. For this product strategy, you must:

  • Have a design and utilization of latest technology in the founding team
  • Prioritize growth above everything, including revenue
  • Focus on making your product viral
  • Use metrics 
  • Apply “Word of Mouth” to gain more results

Sticky Growth

As with the Hotel California song, once a customer checks in, they never leave. 

“A sticky growth makes a customer show up for your product, and then they never leave.”

Sticky growth is focused on retaining customers or ways to make customers loyal to your product or service. This product strategy works for 90% of the companies and is inexpensive and fast. 

For a sticky growth product strategy, your focus should be on: 

  • Retention is everything
  • Existing customers are more important than new customers
  • Work on gaining more traffic and subscribers
  • Conversions of subscribers
  • Adding value to the product by giving free gifts, discounts, etc.
  • Up-sell and get more referrals

Understanding Your First 100 Early Adopters

You can use the above three product strategies to get your first 100 customers. However, you must know the traits of your first 100 early-adopters, such as:

  • Always looking for a suitable solution to apply to their problems
  • Already have a piecemeal solution in their minds
  • Have the budget to buy or spend on the solution offered

Therefore, you must act clever by understanding their:

  • Current ways of solving problem
  • Behavior towards the current solution

You can start working on the right channels to target customers when you’ve got all the above information.

Once you have a product strategy with an early-adopter in mind, the next phase is all about specific hunting strategies:

8 Ways to Build a $100m Business by Targeting Right Customers

Based on the famous model of Christoph Janz.

Image3

Big numbers, right? But your business can achieve it if you are offering your products (or services) to the right audience. Or, in other words, who are you hunting? 

Here are a list of each customer type in the following animal category.

  • Microbe 
  • Flies
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Deer
  • Elephants
  • Brontosauruses 
  • Whales

Funny list. Here is a quick overview of a hunting strategy for each:

Strategy for Microbes and Flies

Selling your products or services to microbes gives you $1 ARPA (Average Revenue per Account). That means you need 100,000,000 (100 million) customers in order to general 100m. But, selling products to flies has a $10 ARPA, which means, you need 10 million customers to enjoy $100 million revenue. 

  • Target audience B2C
  • Bring as many as possible users to download and subscribe to your app
  • Viral your product on social platforms, like Telegram, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.)
  • Use maximum User Generated Content, SEO
  • Use advertisement for monetization purpose

Example: WhatsApp: $0.1 ARPA / year

Strategy for Mice

Likewise, mice have a $100 ARPA, allowing you to generate $100 million revenue by only 1 million customers. 

  • Target audience B2C
  • At least 1 million users/customers per year to sign up for a $100 subscription
  • Make the product with the help of social sharing
  • E-Commerce could be helpful but requires huge funding to attain 1 million users

Example: Mailchimp and Evernote

Strategy for Rabbits 

And selling your offerings to rabbits has a $1,000 average revenue per account, making your business generate $100 million by targeting 100,00 customers.

  • Target audience B2B
  • Best for SaaS platforms with $50 – $100 monthly subscriptions and 100,000 users per year
  • Requires minimum viral factor
  • Complex growth but possible with inbound marketing, OEM, and inside sales

Strategy for Deer

In the same way, you need only 10,000 customers to make $100 million when you have deer to target because the ARPA is $10,000. 

  • Target audience B2B
  • Require 10k customers at 100k ARPA and 100k leads
  • Same rabbit growth strategy 
  • Could pay commission to channels

Strategy for Elephants

Similarly, you only require 1,000 elephants (customers) to generate $100 million, as elephants have an ARPA of $100,000.

  • Target audience B2B (mostly giants) 
  • Require enterprise clients, such as SalesForec and SuccessFactors but only 1000 in numbers with $100k ARPA
  • Gain customers with more sales-centric approach
  • Must have a winning sales team as elephants usually take a longer period (3 to 18 months) to accomplish a single deal 

Strategy for Brontosauruses 

Now, selling your products to brontosauruses permits you a $1,000,000 ARPA, which means you only need 100 customers to generate $100m.

  • Target audience B2B (same as elephants) 
  • Strong enterprise software selling background of at least 20+ years
  • Target big industries or start with other smaller animals

Example: Workday and Veeva

Now, it is time to learn the strategies to hunt customers (from microbes to whales). 

Strategy for Whales

And lastly, offering your services to whales has a $10,000,000 ARPA, and you just need 10 whales to make $100 million. 

  • Target audience includes 10 governmental bodies and massive enterprises
  • Explain, demonstrate, and promise unique solutions that your product provides 

Example: Palantir

Note: The Average Revenue per Account can fluctuate according to the numbers of customers you have gained. 

The “Push” and “Pull” Acquisition Strategies

Once you’re clear on who you’re hunting, you need to build your ability to generate a consistent sales pipeline and acquire customers.

Image8

The “Acquisition Strategy” traditionally consists of ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ methods. 

In the ‘push’ strategy, you take your product to the customer. It can be done through outbound sales, using TV, radio, email, tradeshows, telemarketing, etc. 

  • Pro: Great for creating awareness
  • Con: Expensive and untargeted 

In the ‘pull’ strategy, you attract customers to your product with the help of inbound sales, including SEO, blogging, social communities, eBooks, articles, webinars, and whitepapers. 

  • Pro: Targeted, impactful, and cost-effective
  • Con: Requires continuous efforts

We will focus on one particular ‘Acquisition Strategy’, which is the ‘B2B Outbound Sales’ in the next part.

3 Must-Have Funnels that Do Wonders for Businesses

If you want to create a powerful acquisition strategy for B2B outbound sales, which is:

  • Low budget
  • Allows you to convert prospects into customers for your SaaS product or B2B solution

You should work on these three funnels:

  1. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Funnel

MQL funnel helps create awareness and interest for your product and convert strangers into prospects. At this stage, your sales team receives inquiries from prospects to get your product information. 

  1. Nurture Funnel

The nurture funnel makes those prospects or potential customers desire your product. At this stage, prospects ask for a demo of your product, request for quotation (RFQ) is received, and sign up for the trial period.

  1. Closing Funnel 

This is the last stage, where the potential customer is converted into a new customer. At this stage, the customer buys the license of your product (or enjoy ownership), the target is achieved, and the sale is closed. 

Among all three, the MQL funnel is the essential one. So, let’s see how we use MQL funnel at Slash.

Our Slash growth team begins the MQL funnel process with:

  • Market Research – for value proposition, scripts, and product asset
  • Lead Research – for Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) with contacts
  • Outreach (using email, LinkedIn, etc.) – for achieving KPIs

Furthermore, at Slash, we use the following tools for B2B Outbound Sales:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator – for primary prospecting 
  • Dux-Soup for LinkedIn – for LinkedIn automation
  • Pipedrive (an alternate of HubSpot) – for CRM
  • Hunter.io, Apollo, and Snovio – for data enrichment
  • Neverbounce/Unbounce – for data validation
  • Dedupely – for CRM cleanup
  • Folderly – for restricting spam emails
  • Zapier + Custom scripts – for automation 

You can follow these steps to get great results when working on the MQL funnel.

Step 1: Research

The first step is to research a particular segment of buyers by defining their persona. 

Image6

Step 2: Lead Research

The goal is to find people with correct contacts that fall into the buyer persona. For that, you must work on:

  • Contact mining
  • Email enrichment, email verification, backup & reporting
  • Filtering people with similar ‘buyer persona’
  • Clearing up unverified contacts
  • Writing meaningful and convincing templates

Step 3: Targeting 

Most raw B2B lead research data is driven from external sources, such as LinkedIn. As required, we use LinkedIn’s premium plan to work on the ‘Sales Navigator’ tool to perform lead research on different locations.

For example, the screenshot below shows sample targeting for GIS executives living in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Image2

Step 4: Data Mining

You can use various tools and methods for attaining in your CRM and then pass it into the outreach workflow. 

For instance, you can integrate Pipedrive with Dux-Soup to obtain data from LinkedIn for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) by looking for:

  • Name/Surname
  • Job title
  • Company 
  • Twitter username and more

Image7

Step 5: Data Enrichment

Once data mining is done, you should go for the data enrichment process. You can use a combination of tools to enjoy around 80% of Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) for US$50-$500 per month. 

Image5

At Slash, we prefer combining the following tools:

  • Hunter.io
  • Uplead
  • Clearbit
  • Apollo
  • Snov.io
  • Zoominfo
  • SmartReach

Step 6: Data Validation

Although the data is obtained in the previous stages, it is still not validated. In other words, you must ensure that all the email addresses are working to know that your message is being delivered.

To do that, you can use the following programs:

  • Clearcut
  • Neverbounce
  • Unbounce
  • Zerobounce

As you can see in the screenshot, only one email address was working (marked with green). 

Image9

Step 7: Outreach Automation using Four Waves

Now, integrate your SQLs with your CRM automated outbound workflow by:

  • Cleaning up the list
  • Adding prospects to your LinkedIn network
  • Writing emails
  • Moving to the pre-sales cycle and the final stage

Step 8: Prepare Smart Templates

Create simple, concise, but engaging templates for different purposes for your outreach campaigns. Each template should be customizable and target the right audience with the help of:

  • Marketing message
  • Industry point of view
  • Geographic location and demographics 
  • Nature of company and more

Step 9: Use Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns work when used on LinkedIn connections, and they work best for filtering unresponsive leads. These campaigns usually consist of a connection note along with follow-up messages. So, whenever the lead accepts your invite but never replies, the automated workflow separates them from the system.

Image1

Step 10: Using the Nurture Funnel Method

Once all the above steps are covered, our Slash team uses the ‘Nurture Funnel’ process to assure unbreakable and engaging communication, trust-building, and trial signups by prospects with the help of:

  • KPIs – number of demo requests, acquired trial users, inbound RFPs, and more
  • Re-targeting SQLs by producing and delivering content with the help of drip campaigns

Tips for CRM Automation

Tip #1: CRM for Solid Sales Funnel

You can use a CRM to build a robust sales funnel and process centralization by including:

  • Flexible API limits
  • CRM automation
  • Using different tools (Pipedrive, HubSpot, etc.) for integration

It is also wise to remember that once you spend at least 50% of 1 FTE on finding prospects, CRM will start giving the results. 

Tip #2: Know the Difference Between Good Leads and Bad Leads

A good lead has the following traits:

  • Presence of an executive in at least one of the relevant industries
  • A relevant colleague to which you can address and deliver the message
  • The colleague should be company fit and trustworthy

Contrarily, a bad lead includes:

  • A small company with a revenue lesser than the defined budget
  • Frequent position changer
  • Lead without a referral

How does Slash work with KPIs?

At Slash, we always prefer going with the data-driven approach for our entire outreach process, and we do it by keeping an eye on some of the essential metrics, including:

  • Number of unique prospects, which are being contacted through different channels
  • Converting prospects to the first appointment, and then converting them into contracts
  • Sales cycle duration
  • Average duration of the first contract
  • Customer lifetime value from last year’s outreach

Furthermore, we also integrate hyper-automation technology with outbound sales tools for qualified leads and successful conversions.

Bottom Line

You can make a B2B sales machine by understanding your product or service’s nature and demand in the market. Then, you can use product growth strategies on targeted prospects. 

However, to grow a large business, you must first know who you are hunting. The higher the average revenue per account (ARPA), the more opportunities to achieve your goal fast. 

At Slash, our experts combine the latest technology with MQL and Nurture funnels and all other techniques to help our portfolio target the right audience for their products.

Tag Cloud

Agile - Agile Delivery - Animal Framework - B2B - blockchain - Clean code - Client consulting - cloud platform - Code Refactoring - coding - cryptocurrencies - DeepMind - Design Research - Developer Path - DevOps - Digital Ownership - founder equality - founder equity - front end developer - Fullstack Engineer - Growth strategy - Hook model - innovation - Manual Testing - Metaverse - methodology - Mobile Engineer - NFT - playbooks - Podcast - product versions - project management - Recruitments - Remote Work - Sales machine - Slash - Software Development - Software Engineering - teamwork - Tech Talks - tech teams - testing playbook - The Phoenix Project - Unit testing - VB Map podcast - Venture Building - virtual retreat - Web3
This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our privacy policy.