Your organisation is growing fast, and you have been onboarding new sales and service staff. At start up, the founders were doing everything; they were sales, service, marketing, finance and even the cleaner.
As you bring on new team members, each brings their own experience and expertise to the business and goes about selling or serving in their own way that they are familiar with. It results in a go-to-market (GTM) team of individuals following their own processes, updating the CRM on how they have always done and using their own sales techniques.
Your service teams provide a great customer experience but depending on who the customer speaks to will depend on the journey and service they experience.
Your marketing team uses different marketing campaigns, has inconsistent lead scoring (if it’s been put in place), and fails to generate enough quality leads.
The result is chaos, inconsistency, and inefficiency in the way your GTM teams are operating. The business is still scaling quickly, but how long can you continue to work in this way?
Does this sound familiar?
In my 20 years of experience working in organisations across the globe and more recently consulting with businesses across many different industries, this is a common theme. Fast growth, onboarding of new staff and the excitement of seeing revenues increase, but chaos prevails. There are no frameworks, processes, or systems to support and underpin the growth that ensures performance is consistent across all staff.
Facebook and Apple have profits of over $400k USD per employee; the average technology organisation generates $88k of profit per employee (Visual Capitalist, 2020). How do Facebook and Apple achieve this? By having the right frameworks, processes, and systems to support their staff whilst still ensuring innovation and agility.
I believe that any scaling business can future-proof its growth with a structured approach that supports GTM teams. One critical component of this is the sales process that your organisation is following.
A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that your sales team takes to convert a prospect into a customer. Having a standardised sales process adds structure and accountability to your sales activities, leading to a higher win rate and shorter sales cycles.
A recent Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association survey found that organisations with a standardised sales process saw an 18% increase in revenue growth compared to companies with no process.
The sales process itself can take many forms depending on the needs of your business, the industry you are in and your customers, but a basic sales process is going to look something like this:
This is a very simple process but let’s take it to the Next Level and look at the process that many of my SaaS clients use. The SaaS bowtie is all-encompassing and allows organisations to track, measure and manage the customer journey from prospect to their ongoing relationship.
- Pre-sales – Prospect (and the marketing activity that takes place with this)
- Sales – converting them to a customer (and the sales activity that takes place)
- Post Sales – retaining and growing their relationship with the organisation (the activities of customer success)
The stages of the SaaS bowtie
In the above example, I have included several of the high-level stages, although it’s likely that you would have more steps than this, particularly during the sales stages (other steps could consist of discovery, demo and contracting, for example)
Awareness is the first stage of pre-sales and traditionally the uppermost stage of the marketing funnel. Potential customers are drawn into this stage through marketing campaigns and consumer research and discovery. Trust and thought leadership are established – with events, advertising, trade shows, content (blog posts, infographics, etc.), webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, search, media mentions, and more
Nurture is the marketing communication strategy designed to place content in front of prospective buyers at various points in a customer’s journey. Nurture marketing involves regularly reaching out to leads and your customer base by presenting important information before they ask for it. This helps GTM teams manage and organise their prospects until they’re ready to buy and can move into the sales stages
The qualification step of the sales process involves sales reps initiating contact with those early-stage leads to gather additional information and decide whether they’re a good-fit lead for the organisation and whether they’ll likely move forward in the buyer’s journey.
At this stage, you present your solution to the prospective customer. This could include the pitch and is likely to be where you will be proposing the price.
Time to celebrate – you have the signed and executed contract back from the customer, and the deal is done. It’s closed-won, and you have a new customer in the organisation. To get to this point, we have been through contracting and negotiation (quite often procurement) to get the deal over the line.
It’s important to celebrate, but the hard work has only just begun as we now want to onboard the customer and drive adoption of your product. You want to ensure each user is successful in using your product to achieve their business goals. Getting this right can help create repeatable and scalable recurring revenue in SaaS; getting it wrong and churn is likely to occur.
Adoption has been driven, and your customer is seeing how your product is helping them achieve their goals. You have demonstrated and reinforced value to your customer, so now is the time to look for upsell opportunities, whether that be additional users, product functionality or new products.
The benefits of the SaaS bowtie
If you don’t have a clearly documented sales process, it will create further challenges for you as it feeds into so many other parts of your GTM operating model. For example, your sales process impacts how you develop your data, reporting, platforms, and tools, as well as training
There are many reasons why every organisation needs a sales process:
- Predictable Outcomes – By having a sales process with multiple steps, you can create measures; measures provide you with data, and you can draw insights from the data. Using this in the right way will allow you to understand better how a particular lead will behave, measure your sales cycle and conversion rates, to name a few. This will enable you to forecast future success and outcomes.
- A pathway for team members to follow – As I previously mentioned in scaling organisations, a lack of process creates chaos. However, by having a transparent process, anyone in the organisation can easily understand the critical steps at each stage, the activities required and how success will be measured, thus creating consistency across the team.
- Faster onboarding of new staff – We all want new hires to be as effective and successful as quickly as possible. Sales rep ramp time can be reduced, and the onboarding of any GTM team member improved as you have something to train them against. Not only the process itself but the skills and activities required throughout the process. Plus, you make the lives of your leaders easier as all your existing team members will be following the same process so they can help onboard and teach the new hire!
- Continuous improvement – Any scaling organisation needs to be evolving. As the saying goes, if you keep doing the same things, then expect the same results. By having a documented process and continuously measuring success, tactics can be developed, levers can be pulled, and new strategies implemented to improve results.
- Alignment of GTM teams – One of the biggest challenges in an organisation is aligning different functions. By having common steps and language, everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Marketing can support sales and customer success with the correct lead generation activities, collateral, and messaging. Sales and Customer Success can collaborate, ensure quality handover, and develop strategies to grow the relationship further.
- A better customer experience – Building trust and credibility throughout the customer journey is crucial. If any of the GTM teams rush a prospect into a stage, they were not anticipating trust can be broken. A standardised process with clear checkpoints ensures the sale does not advance until the buyer is ready to move forward. Each stage of the process can be designed to demonstrate value and build trust with the customer to ensure a consistent and positive experience.
A well-defined and embedded sales process can be a game-changer for organisations of any size. Whether you are a sole trader or a global enterprise, it will make a difference to how effective you are and, ultimately, your revenue.
Did you know that less than 40% of organisations have a formal sales process, and even many of those within that figure do not embed it as part of their overall GTM operations (CSO Insights).
It’s easy for you to make a difference, stand out from the rest to be more effective and efficient throughout the buyer’s journey.
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