As sales leaders, most of us assume that many aspects of our sales machine will become inefficient during hypergrowth. As we think of ways to improve sales performance, a number of growth pains may come in the way:
- High acquisition costs
- Decreased revenue per rep,
- High turnover as you scale headcount
“It’s just the price of hypergrowth,” we think.
Efficiency Isn’t Something You Worry About After Scaling
You don’t have to automatically accept that your customer acquisition machine will become bloated or inefficient during the growth phase. In the last six months at Weave, our sales team managed this balancing act. We made our machine more efficient even as we scaled, grew headcount, and skyrocketed our revenue.
In the first six months of the year, our team’s headcount grew by almost 60%, yet our revenue outpaced that, growing by 142%. Our overall win rate across all lead sources increased by 19% and our overall close rate was 8% higher than the company average.
Are we proud of those stats? Indeed. But I’m more concerned with helping you do the same thing.
So how did we do it? While many variables played into maintaining both growth and efficiency in parallel, the data shows that when you focus on sales effectiveness, efficiency naturally follows. It’s a byproduct.
Here are five things you can start doing to make it happen in your sales organization:
- Master the fundamentals of your sales process
- Embrace technology so you can coach at scale
- Empower your reps to “self coach”
- Cultivate a healthy workplace culture
- Hire intelligently
1) Master the Fundamentals of Your Sales Process
The first and most important factor in our success was mastering the fundamentals of a standardized sales process that our reps could execute from first call to close.
Think of your sales process fundamentals like a basketball team practicing layups. It isn’t sexy, but master over the simple things is what wins games.
Similarly, in the sales world, there are slick tips, tricks, and techniques that look like they could be the next big thing, but ultimately distract from the fundamentals. Funneling demand into a sales process your reps haven’t mastered at a fundamental level virtually guarantees you’ll burn tons of resources as you scale.
Instead, equip your reps with a “roadmap” that helps them understand what step they should take at every stage of the sales cycle to further “process” their deals into closed revenue.
On my team, for example, our SDRs are taught four fundamental steps and four “never break” rules.
Likewise, 5-8 fundamentals have a ton of influence over our AEs’ results, so that’s where we focus their attention.
What are your fundamentals? What are the steps your reps should execute at each stage of the sales process? Figure them out and build your sales performance coaching program around them.
2) Embrace Technology so You Can Coach at Scale
Training and development is like game film in sports. You have to watch or listen to each sales rep’s tendencies and behaviors in order to coach them effectively. But doing that without leverage as you scale makes it nearly impossible.
There just isn’t enough time to shadow every call, or slog through raw web conferencing recordings one after another. Technology is the only way you can gain leverage to continue your coaching efforts while being data-driven.
At Weave, we use Gong.io to quickly and easily analyze calls. Capturing calls allows me to coach my reps during my “down time,” rather than coordinating calendars for call shadowing. It also enables me to find the right calls, get through them fast, and identify exactly where the team needs training.
Without the right sales tools to use as leverage, coaching starts to break down as you scale.
3) Empower Your Reps to “Self Coach”
Teaching your reps isn’t the only way for them to become more effective. Allow them to engage in self-reflection goes a long way in improving their sales skills. Your team should break down their own “game film” and reflect on what they did well, and where they can improve next time.
Again, Gong.io has been immensely helpful in us enabling our team to self coach in this way.
Managers and trainers should point them in the right direction by showing them what to watch for and areas where they can improve. But once they have clear directions, empower them.
Let them invest in their own development by having them spend time each day “working on their game”. If your reps can learn to improve their own performance, your ability to scale will increase significantly.
4) Cultivate a Healthy Workplace Culture
Culture is a critical part of any organization. But most people don’t think of culture as an aspect of scaling efficiently. But the truth is, having the wrong culture while trying to scale your tech startup is like trying to drive a racecar with the e-brake on. The whole process bogs down.
Because scaling depends on people, and people depend on culture.
When we hire, we look for reps who are hungry to learn and grow. We talk about self-improvement every day and offer incentives around personal development and training. By embedding training and development into every fiber of our culture, we set ourselves up to have a culture that accelerates growth.
5) Hire Intelligently
No one bats a thousand with their hires. We all miss now and again. But if you want to scale efficiently, you should treat your hiring process just like you do your sales process. Build a rhythmic hiring processes that weeds out the bad hires, and “converts” good candidates into top producing salespeople.
Hiring is so key to maintaining efficiency while you scale, because the most common inefficiency while scaling is high turnover.
The narrative at most companies in hypergrowth is a revolving door of salespeople. That situation wastes more resources than you can imagine.
How do you create this sort of hiring process? Find new ways during your sales interview process to see if a candidate is truly coachable. Don’t ask them about it in theory. Look for ways see it in action.
Have your interviewee adjust a sales pitch slightly, or ask them questions about other areas of their life that demonstrate how they’re coachable. You need to be very confident that it’s one of their attributes.
Any Time is a Good Time to Focus on Effectiveness
Our Q1 and Q2 metrics are the result of paying deep attention to training and development at every step of our sales process. It’s a bit ironic, but when you focus on effectiveness, efficiency naturally follows.
I’d love to field any questions you might have in the comments below!
Also published on Medium.