Developing an efficient and effective sales process for a small company is a big challenge. Here's how to get your sales strategy off the ground and on the right foot.

Focus on leads that need your product

Small companies have a tendency to chase down every potential leads based on enthusiasm for a sale. However, pursuing low quality leads burns valuable time, creates frustration and negatively impacts your bottom line.

A better approach is to qualify leads based on how well your product provides a solution to a prospect’s pain points, and meets his or her needs. Proactively scrutinizing opportunities will enable you to free up time and focus on leads with the highest sales potential.

One way to qualify a prospects is to ask her to complete a seemingly trivial, but necessary action. Have the prospect sign an NDA or make the necessary connections to decision makers, or others involved the sales process.  If a prospect is unwilling to take these kinds of steps, it's a clear sign he or she is not serious about purchasing.

Have the right people on your side

There are many actors involved in a sale. In order to ensure you keep your sale moving toward a successful conclusion, you’ll need buy in from multiple players within an organization, including:

  • The Economic buyer. This person is concerned with how your product will improve the company’s bottom line. Pitch your product to this person based not on cost reduction, but profits. An excellent product can grow the top line 5-10%, almost no products can reduce costs by this amount.

  • The Advocate. This is the person who approves your solution, drives your solution through the sales program and secures the budget for your product. Your advocate will take a risk on your product and show you the ropes in a company.

  • The Technical Buyer. These specialists handle purchasing technical products for their company. They understand the product enough to be able to make intelligent purchasing decisions.

The bottom line: Don't spend your time with the person you are comfortable with in the organization. There are multiple parties involved, you must win them all over.

Don't be afraid to ask for the order

If you’ve vetted potential customers, and won your company decision makers over, don't be afraid to ask for the sale. If you are a small business person or founder, and sales does not come naturally, it might be a big sticking point to get past this, but you need to ask for the sale!

Define your sales strategy

Once you’ve made those critical first sales and found your “Hair on Fire” customers, determine what type of structure you will need to close these customers.
  • Outside sales. Outside sales also called field sales. Here a salesperson meets customers in person to sell a higher cost product priced anywhere from $25K to $200K.

  • Inside sales. This is typically a low-touch and cost model for products priced under $10K.  For inside sales, the pitch and purchase usually occurs on the telephone or online.  

  • Self service. While SaaS unit economics are making low touch sales more achievable to smaller companies, self service sign ups are perhaps the cheapest and most scalable sales solution. Here users sign up for a product over the web.

Try sales before you hire your first salesperson

Before you've hired a sales person, learn to sell your product. Vet the correct customers, bring stakeholders into the tent, and pitch based on ROI. As you build your sales organization, make sure to tailor your sales model to your customers buying cycle. Happy hunting.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Marian

Clement Cazalot is co-founder & CEO of docTrackr, providing document control software for businesses and salespeople.

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