Selling effectively and efficiently can be a struggle for companies of all sizes and industries. Even if your product or service is uniquely valuable, getting it in front of the right prospects at a rate that leads to viable revenue is really hard. Business-to-business (B2B) selling can be especially fraught with complications, as no one is more over-marketed to than sales and marketing professionals themselves. Plus, they’ll see right through any cheap, outdated sales tactics almost immediately. (Don’t kid a kidder, etc.)
Often, technology companies (and startups in particular) struggle to build a scalable sales model while simultaneously securing viable funding. There might be many reasons for this, but a few seem to come up most frequently.
- Early stage optimism is a good thing, but can also lead to tunnel vision.
When companies are first starting out, the positive vibes and focus on office culture can lead to founders and executives having blind spots about where their organization needs to improve. Sales can be an unforgiving realm, and it’s incumbent on these cofounders to seek outside help if their current process isn’t bringing in scalable revenue. Unfortunately, many are hesitant to take that step.
- Brand new technologies are hard sells.
Young tech companies tend to set on the vanguard of new softwares, tools, and functionalities. These new technologies are drastically changing the way businesses operate. While that’s a bold and exciting place to be, many of your prospects will be more afraid of that drastic change than they are open to embracing it. Executives at your prospective accounts will tend to have built long, successful careers on doing things a certain way. Hearing from some young upstart about a more effective solution won’t always be their idea of time well-spent. There are myriad ways to get around this objection, but it’s a very delicate sell, and can be tough for a young sales staff to pull off.
- The product or service is likely still in flux.
When startups first go to market, they may have developed an in-depth business model, but there are always unexpected changes to account for. For example, a new roll-out from a competitor could be enough to dramatically shift the marketplace. This doesn’t mean a startup in that space will automatically be sunk, it just means they have some tweaks to make, and quickly. This makes it difficult for a relatively new sales team, who’s put in the hours to learn the messaging and iron out strategies for the original service. Incorporating new product attributes into their processes in real time is extremely difficult.
So, that’s where sales enablement can be a perfect solution for young companies looking to build a successful, replicable sales model. By focusing on sales technologies and best practices, and keeping an open mind to strategies beyond simply “spray and pray,” sales enablement companies can help their clients grow into a sales model that works specifically for their product, industry, and competitive landscape.
Plus, sales enablement companies have tools and infrastructures already in place. For a young company, the dual responsibilities of building sales systems and building operational systems will naturally lead to some spots being weaker than others. Funding may be coming in rapidly (or, conversely, barely at all), and the necessary sales ramp-up may require highly developed infrastructure that a start-up simply hasn’t had time to build yet. A sales enablement company can provide that infrastructure for the time being, enabling the client to have the best of both worlds: rapid short-term revenue models, gradual long-term scalability.
Often, there is a bit of a stigma for sales enablement companies, seemingly tied to the term “outsourced”. This may be for the simple reason that in recent business history, outsourcing has typically been linked to negative developments. Outsourced customer service teams have led to a loss of jobs domestically and less personal interactions with customers. Similarly, opinions within companies are seldom in favor of outsourcing work because there’s a natural sense that these teams will be in competition with in-house teams for jobs and/or resources.
We think it’s important to dispel that notion. In our experience, the best sales enablement relationships lead to the client increasing the size of their in-house teams, not decreasing it. After all, the goal is always to increase revenue in a scalable way that will work moving forward – not a one-time boost. Once that revenue continues to rise in years to come, the client will hopefully find itself needing to create more positions to handle the added bandwidth. In this way, sales enablement relationships can take on more of a consulting role than a mere outsourcing one.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about sales enablement is that it seeks to help the client build a sales process that’s unique, replicable, and scalable. For young companies, outside help doesn’t mean giving up on the people in the building: it means investing in a long-term plan for their success. Plus, when the relationship comes to an end, that doesn’t mean it was a failure. The hope is that the client’s revenue has increased, the prospect data (and methods of building on it) have been improved, and general internal processes have been made more seamless.