You are a founder of a B2B SaaS companies and you have done the following as of today:
- Identified a clear set of customers
- Found capital to build a good enough product / tech
- Have a MRR around the 10-30K€ mark
- Have a roadmap for product & engineering teams
- Looking to raise Series A or pre-Series A
At this critical juncture, 1 of 2 things happen. You grow faster and beat projections or you don't.
And when you don't, it takes 6-18 months to really understand what is going on. You throw new tactics, slash prices, offer free trial, talk at your industry events, heck you even find a distribution partner.
You somehow get your existing investors to give you more runway or reduce costs, while you figure out what the problem is. Is it the sales team? Is it your sales presentation? Is it your competitors? Or are you being blinded by something that you don't understand?
This is the juncture where founders typically come to us for help to think through both their fundraising plans & strategy to increase sales.
Here are our 5 biggest tips to help you scale your B2B sales. If you are short on time, here is the summary.
- Sell progress, not features.
No one wakes up thinking about your platform or product. They want to get a job done, and make progress. They want to get to their next destination or milestone and are obsessing about how to get that done.
- Your competition is not what you think it is
Most of the time, competition is entrenched behaviours, legacy solutions that have lock-in culturally and contractually, and not that other fancy startup that has similar features as yours.
- Segment your buyers & asking the killer question
Every organisation has true decision makers & influencers. While you might meet a gatekeeper or influencer, your true decision maker might be somebody you never heard of till you lost the deal. Understanding the dynamics here is key. Then you have a killer question armed up your sleeve.
- Track momentum metrics like you mean it
B2B Sales can take months, sometimes every 2 years. You need to track momentum metrics in terms of engagement & time spent with you by the right people (see point 3)
- Build up better infrastructure through marketing automation
B2B marketing has become more sophisticated than ever. Not having webinars, landing pages, A/B testing, growth marketing is not going to get you far. Having every touch point quantified is key to being relevant.
Some frameworks to get you started about Points 1-3
Most founders we meet are almost unhealthily in love with their platforms or products. They believe that the next set of features, will unlock and create a growth trajectory that even most hockey sticks would be ashamed of. Unfortunately, more often than not, the root cause, most often than not, are not features but the packaging.
Framework to get the basics in order:
- Jobs to be done framework
The left 2 quadrants:
Your prospect has existing behaviours. They do it in excel, they do it via email or have compensatory behaviours to get things done. And this behaviour makes them feel a push i.e. they wish it was easier, faster, cheaper or better. However they have some amount of allegiance to their current behaviour. Examples here could be "not wanting to speak to IT to change the system to be used", "not enough in their teams are ready to switch".
The right 2 quadrants:
The pull of the idea is about your platform or category while anxiety is to feel naked, look bad or worse feel like they have screwed it up for real by choosing you.
Here is an internal example from our own coaching sprints we offer to scale ups & corporate venture teams.
The above framework can also help you understand what your competition is & which entrenched behaviours are you up against?
Sean Ellis made famous the golden questions. Here are more golden questions to think about to add to that:
- What should your customers stop doing/using to start using you? This is truly your competition.
- How much time or budget do they spend on this today? This is what you will be compared with to be labelled cheaper or more expensive
- What are compensatory behaviours they do today to make this progress? This is what your features should help make easy
Segmenting your buyers into micro-segments and then asking the killer question.
B2B sales is both art & science. Here is the science part. The person you are speaking to is probably not the decision maker. The person who gets you to do multiple demos, asks for detailed proposals, is highly engaged about every feature is probably a gatekeeper who is doing his/her job to look good or avoid looking bad. They most likely care about your category, but more importantly they care about doing well in their careers, which means not picking a random non-credible company that would risk their careers. Most sales teams spend countless hours on gatekeepers and never ask the killer question.
The killer question is *wait for it*
"Who else in your organisation should be involved in making this decision and our platform work for you?"
Most sales teams have a hang up - which is either discussing price or asking bold enough questions before committing to a lot of pre-sales work that leads nowhere. Stop being hung up, and start closing more by combining empathy, aggressive listening and a well intentioned forward leaning killer question.
Here is our own example. 2/3rds of our revenues come from enterprises. We work with them to source, build and create structures for them to innovate in & around the core. For the longest time, we had tons of meetings, sent countless proposals, did workshops and never got a sale through. This was 18 month ago when our MRR was slightly less than 200K€ and conversions happened due to previous relationships, and not through a science driven sales process.
We have 1,5x-ed it the last 12 months.
This is how we segment our meetings for corporate prospects we meet. In large organisations with 5000+ employees, you can get carried away by their power & you shouldn't. Instead segment & understand the chain of decision making involved. Understand the invisible forces in their organisation.
We ideally want to meet CEO / Owners or Board members of large enterprises, but it is no secret that they are hard to get hold of. We meet a lot of digital innovation managers and while all without exception are well intentioned, they typically do not have mandates or budget to make a decision regarding working with us strategically to build or invest in new innovations to extend their core business.
You should instead really understand the role, context and how the decision will be made starting with the person you plan to meet.
Today, we drive every prospect meeting with a purpose based on a clear segmentation & the killer question. Here is our tree of guiding principles based on type of meeting. We have meeting scripts, workshop formats based on who we meet & which stage in the discussion process we are going through.
This at least can help you focus on who has a higher probability of buying and help you focus better rather than spraying & praying. If we don't get clarity on next steps & how the decision is made, we take couple of steps back and instead find other value things to offer through our ecosystem with Epicenter. This way we minimise risk while maximising relationship and potential over time.
Momentum Metrics & Marketing Infrastructure:
Number of relevant touch points, getting time from decision makers or engagement are key metrics that you should track as much as you look at the top line and closed deals. The devil here is most times in tweaking, adjusting and knowing when to strike vs when to wait.
To do this, you want modern marketing & sales infrastructure enabled through marketing automation. Using tools to prospect such as Vainu or GoAva, integrating CRM with Hubspot or similar, and doing webinars, events and other 1-many formats are key to getting your mix right. There is no silver bullet here.
The no regret decision is to get your infrastructure & house in order for you to constantly learn, adapt and tackle a new day.
Some reading tips that I recommend:
- Jobs to be done Framework
- When Kale & coffee compete
- Customer forces canvas
- Pain - Gain Framework
- How to be a Rainmaker
If you want more tips, drop us a line with your question or comments. If you liked this, and think someone in your team or your friend who is struggling to get sales going should read this, share the love.
If you are interested in how to growth-hack your business as a scaleup implement and work hands on with innovation I’m the CEO at Result and we are experts at scaling businesses and driving intrapreneurship/entrepreneurship. Read more about our offerings at https://result.com/scale-up