1. What are you seeing in the market? The way customers buy has changed, and unfortunately it’s changing faster than the way sales people sell. Buyers are doing more research on their own, there are far more stakeholders involved, remote meetings are not going away (Zoom’s enterprise customer growth continues for instance), and attention spans have shortened. Sales people are not adapting fast enough and sellers need to recognize they’re still selling to human beings; you cannot just ‘technology’ your way to the close. Buyers may be spending less time with salespeople, but they don’t want a purely digital experience. A buyer wants to be shepherded through the process. Bob believes in a Surround Sound selling process, which has four pillars: i) connect emotionally, which means you need to be genuine and ultimately liked as a person to establish trust; ii) social amplification, meaning you need to find a way for the buyer to be seen doing a good job to their superiors and that there are others who have purchased from you successfully — this make them feel safe; iii) preferred access, meaning you need to figure out how the customer likes to buy whether they prefer email, the phone, in-person meetings, text etc.; and finally iv) rationality, meaning the sale has to make sense for both the buyer and their organization, and that the customer can clearly envision how the process will work, what success looks like, and how you’ll get them there.
3. How do you find the ICP? First off, when you identify the ICP, it doesn’t mean you say no to everyone else. It means you identify who is the perfect customer so that’s where you spend your marketing and direct outreach resources. You should still take those inbounds even if they don’t match your ICP initially. In order to identify the ICP, you need to figure out how the buyer thinks. Ask yourself how would a successful buying experience would feel with a perfect customer, who are you engaged with, how often do you talk, etc. The more quantitative way to identify the ICP is to do a win/loss analysis: on your wins, where did the lead come from, at what point in the sales cycle did we have confidence in the close, what did the customer love about the product and the process. On your losses, ask similar questions: where did the lead come from, how did they behave, what were their objections, and if you can identify the things that could have turned a loss into a win, what would those things have been. No doubt, patterns will emerge which will help you further refine your ICP.
5. How do you hire the right VP of Sales? D on’t do this too soon. The CEO should be the defacto VP of Sales for as long as possible, especially if they’re a sales oriented CEO. If you’re a customer minded, sales driven CEO, you should act as the VP as long as you can. No one will do as good a job as you, and you have the benefit of being the CEO in the eyes of the customer. Otherwise, you bring a VP of Sales onboard when you know who the customer is, what your process is like, etc. You’re likely at $3mm+ ARR. When you bring on a VP of Sales, avoid individuals that have big corporate logos; they wont be used to startup life. You’ll be better served finding a young up-and-coming sales manager, let them sell your product on their own, and then bring sales talent below them. Bringing in a good strong sales person in your industry and letting them evolve into the sales leader is the way to go.
Bob Marsh is as experienced a sales leader as it gets. Visit his website meetbobmarsh.com to learn more about his speaking engagements for your team.
Sammy is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Blossom Street Ventures. Visit us at blossomstreetventures.com and email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org://blossomstreetventures.com/metrics/