In the early days of a startup, the founders and other members of the leadership team are the people making sales. But if a company is to have long-term success, founder-led sales is not sustainable. A scalable, effective sales process is required.
This article will explain how to build a sales machine and why it’s so important. At the end, you’ll be able to download our complete playbook for making the transition from founder-led sales to a scalable sales organization.
What Is a Sales Machine?
A sales machine is more than just a sales team. It is an organization backed by company-wide policies and processes designed to ensure an effective sales process. A company’s marketing funnel, product pricing and packaging, quotas, compensation packages, hiring practices and more all have a part to play in sales success, and they must all be working towards the same goals.
At York IE, we call this approach aligned acceleration. You can’t have a sales organization that accelerates your growth if your operations and team members aren’t aligned.
Why You Need an Effective Sales Process
At some point in the journey for any startup that is gaining customer traction, founder-led sales isn’t going to cut it. The founders and other leaders will no longer be able to handle all of the sales work that needs to be done.
This is an important milestone, but it’s also an inflection point. You can either hire a sales leader and build a sales team in a vacuum, with all the growing pains and misalignment that comes with that, or you can seize the opportunity to build a sales machine that scales with your company.
By building a sales machine when the time is right, you’re laying the foundation for future success.
Review Your Sales Process
founder-led sales to a scalable, effective sales process.
Building a Sales Machine
There are 12 foundational parts to an effective sales process:
Executive buy-in: Your founding team truly needs to believe that your product is ready to be sold and your market is willing to buy.
Sales and go-to-market (GTM) leadership: Sales and marketing need to be aligned on one vision, with one person owning the end-to-end funnel.
GTM strategy: Choose a market, develop a plan to disrupt it and make this a core part of your company DNA.
The pitch: Your startup’s elevator pitch should inform everything you do, from making sales calls to your marketing and public relations activities.
Bag of tricks: Equip your sales team with the collateral they need to succeed. This includes your corporate overview slides, sales cut sheets, white papers and other enablement content, and more.
Sales culture: Create an environment that is competitive, yet collaborative. Your sales team should be a team in the truest sense of the word.
Pricing and packaging: Establish a pricing and packaging foundation and develop a sales strategy that marries this foundation with your overall GTM motion.
Compensation: Develop clear and concise compensation plans that explain what everyone in sales has for a base salary and what targets they need to meet to receive additional earnings (variable compensation aka commission).
Quota models: A bottoms-up quota model is critical to sales scaling success. Your model must include specific quota targets by level of seller, across each sales team and across the whole sales organization.
Sales team structure: Be clear on who is building the culture described above and how all members of the sales organization are divided into teams.
Hiring roadmap: Like all startup hires, your early sales employees will need a variety of skills and the willingness to handle multiple responsibilities, including some outside traditional sales tasks.
For in-depth advice about each of these 12 components of an effective sales process, plus videos on nailing your pitch and transitioning from founder-led sales, download the sales playbook from our Fuel platform.