Larry Kaul, Founder and CEO, Kaul Sales Partners
Options for Scaling Sales Revenue at Your Startup
Silicon Valley seems to prefer companies whose roadmap includes developing mature internal sales capability. We generally agree that everybody — particularly leadership — should be getting their hands dirty in the very early stages so they can get proof of concept, build credibility after launch and make critical early product/service pivots based on market feedback.
But when it’s time to scale revenue, there’s a chorus of advice about how to start hiring salespeople. One of the most brilliant clients we have ever served — an MIT-trained technologist and consultant whose company helps large clients with agile innovation projects — argued that if something is available in module capacity, you shouldn’t be burning runway by building it out yourself. Plug it in and save your energy and money for developing defensible IP and scalable processes that will truly grow value in your company.
My take on this comes with the caveat that you have some revenue stability from a product or service that has delivered on proof of concept and that you’re eyeing next-level expansion driven by improved sales capability.
Let’s look at some options for scaling your revenue:
- Hire hungry junior salespeople with tons of hustle and who need experience.
Swarming your niche with outreach from young inside sales development reps who know your product can potentially provide the boost you need. The idea fuel here is kids who want to build the resume, get out of lead generation roles and build a career path. This is one way to avoid the trap of relying on a single sales hunter, which I discuss in this article.
- Go with lower headcount and offload strategy, lead generation, closing and support work.
Going with one or two senior salespeople instead of a younger, more numerous, staff can also work. But as with the “sales hunter” trap, your revenue growth plans will bog down if that single resource has to do all his/her own prospecting, campaign strategy and execution. There’s another element to consider here, too: your strategy work will break down and you’ll go off course if sales messaging on the front line gets disconnected.
- Ask Yourself Fundamental Strategy Questions Before Jumping into Sales Tactics.
When we talk to hungry companies that want to scale revenue, we often find them fixated on getting more leads and meetings. Leads and meetings are good. But we find unexamined assumptions beneath these symptomatic concerns. We get them focused on more fundamental inquiries: What’s your business focus? Who are you in the market? Our prospects are often amazed by their own answers to these questions — and how mismatched their tactical approach and resources have become from who they really are.
Only when you have conducted deeper inquiry will strategy start to translate into prospecting, lead generation, and messaging activity that makes sense and produces results.
The fact is, aligning all the right people, processes and technology to drive next-level sales growth is a big investment: You’ve got to spin all the plates, from management consulting-level inquiry (Who are you? What’s your business focus?) all the way to message strategy, prospecting, lead generation, sales opportunity creation and closing.
Not to overuse the term, but this requires a platform. How you build it will have a huge impact on whether or not you can parlay your current runway into the sales growth that builds value in the company and invites more customers (or investors). Before you put out the call for salespeople, it’s critical to investigate all the options.
Happy to hear about your experiences if they differ from mine. Reach out for a conversation — and thanks for reading!