A predictable sales engine is crucial for a business’s long-term growth and success. With a consistent revenue stream, it can be easier to plan for future expansion and ensure a company’s sustainability. However, building a predictable sales engine can be a challenging task. In this article, we’ll explore how Suggestic has grown from founder-led sales to a consistent and automated sales process and which tools have helped us along the way.
To listen to Suggestic’s CEO Victor Chapela, VP John Hulwick, and head of growth Maru Cho casually discuss the ins-and-outs of building a sales process, go here.
Moving away from founder-led efforts
The passionate and talented efforts of the company’s (co)founders can lead to high-value personalized sales. However, as the company begins to grow, this one-on-one networking approach is not only inefficient but can hinder growth. Most scaling companies will have to structurize their sales efforts at this stage. While they will use different tools to achieve this goal – we specify our choices below – the following steps will usually be taken.
- Define the sales process. Clearly outline the steps and milestones a potential customer goes through in the sales process, from initial contact to closing.
- Hire and train a sales team. Build a team of sales professionals with the skills and experience to execute the sales process successfully. Provide them with training on the product or service, as well as on the sales process and customer segmentation.
- Implement a CRM system. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track leads, opportunities, and customer interactions. This will help the sales team manage their pipeline and forecast future sales.
- Implement sales metrics. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the sales team’s success, such as the number of leads generated, conversion rates, and revenue generated. Use this data to make informed decisions about sales strategy and tactics.
- Optimize and refine the sales process. Continuously monitor and analyze the sales data to identify areas for improvement. Refine the sales process and tactics to optimize performance and increase predictability.
- Leverage technology. Implement sales enablement tools to automate repetitive tasks and provide your sales team with the information they need to close deals faster.
Finding the right CRM
As a business grows, managing customer relationships becomes increasingly complex. That’s where CRM (a customer relationship management tool) comes in. A CRM is a powerful software that streamlines customer interactions, automates repetitive tasks, and provides valuable insights for sales forecasting, lead generation, and marketing campaigns.
Different CRMs will provide different depths of insight into customers and leads.
One of the first steps on Suggestic’s path to a structured sales engine was to transition from HubSpot to Salesforce for our CRM needs. HubSpot is a popular option for early-stage startups, but as our business grew, Salesforce became more appropriate. Upon implementing Salesforce, we discovered that out of 4000 open opportunities, only 30-40 were actual leads. Creating correct funnel stages upfront is crucial to streamlining the sales process and making it more predictable.
Tools mentioned: HubSpot, Salesforce
Implementing Winning by Design techniques
We were on the search for an effective sales process that would align with our specific SaaS needs. Our search led us to Winning by Design, a group that had published several books and created a process that fit our needs perfectly. We adopted their methodology, fine-tuned it to our specific needs, and incorporated Salesforce to support it.
Winning by Design is a collection of frameworks, models, and training materials for SaaS companies that are looking to streamline sales, marketing, and customer success.
One of the key aspects of this process is the focus on conversions. By measuring various types of conversions on a weekly and monthly basis, we were able to create a comprehensive dashboard that enables us to identify and rectify any issues that arise quickly. This not only allows us to monitor the health of our sales process but also enables us to run experiments and make data-driven decisions.
Tools mentioned: Winning by Design
Accordance within the team
Consistency is another vital aspect of our sales process. Our team agrees on each customer’s sales process, methods, and next steps. Thanks to this team spirit, we have doubled our revenue over the last six or seven months.
We also utilize Gong, which allows us to record all our calls and access the transcript. This feature enables us to review our conversations, identify areas for improvement, and coach our team to close deals more effectively.
Being able to go through recorded and transcribed meetings also allows us to align our messaging.
Another unique aspect of our sales process is the consideration of different channels that generate leads. We measure conversion rates from visitors to our website through paid marketing such as Google ads, content marketing, and outbound efforts. This holistic approach enables us to understand the performance of each channel and optimize them for maximum efficiency.
Tools mentioned: Gong
Lead-qualifying questionnaire and an ROI calculator
At one point, we noticed that our proposal submissions had suddenly halted for several months. This was due to a new step in our process where we required customers to fill out a questionnaire before we could provide them with a proposal. Leads were hesitant to fill it out, simply wanting to know the proposal’s cost.
When we fixed this roadblock by going through the questionnaire on a call with the prospect, we found that it massively improved our success rate. 40% of leads who filled out the questionnaire would close a deal with us.
Additionally, we also created a calculator to measure the return on investment in our services. This calculator is particularly useful because one of the key value propositions of our service is that we offer pre-built solutions rather than building from scratch.
Tools mentioned: questionnaire, ROI calculator (self-built)
Everything that happens after a successful sale
A successful sale is not just about closing the deal but also about delivering on our promise and maintaining a positive relationship with our customers post-sale. We are constantly working to improve our process and create a loop that ensures we are delivering what we promised on the front end while also working to grow our business with our existing customers. This includes identifying key players, prioritizing and filling gaps in our process, and specializing in different market segments.
We understand that the sales motion for different types of markets is different and requires a different approach. For example, how we interact with an enterprise customer differs from how we interact with smaller customers. To meet these unique needs, we are creating specialized teams, also known as “pods,” that focus on specific types of clients. These teams will include dedicated account executives, sales development representatives (SDRs), and customer success managers (CSMs) who are sensitive to the specific needs of these types of customers.
Focusing on these specialized teams and market segments can improve your sales process and create a more efficient way of interacting with your customers. This is a crucial step in prioritizing the type of people you have and the type of markets you are going after, ensuring you are making the best decisions for your business now and in the future.