I’ve found the same speed bumps to revenue growth in BIG companies that I have found small ones.
The big difference?
Small companies are agile enough to move and change quickly — and that is what makes it fun to work in a start-up environment.
I’ll classify the 3 speed bumps I see again and again with 3 stages of a start-up’s growth: Get Ready! Go! and Scale.
1. Get Ready Speed Bump:
Companies in the get ready stage are just finishing up their product and starting to turn their mind to sales. One of the things I see again and again is lack of clarity on who their Ideal Customers are. The 2 most important criteria for identifying your first Ideal Customers are: 1) what is the inherent speed in the buying process?
Let me explain.
Different targets or Ideal Customers will have different natural speeds in their buying process. For example, the Government of Canada as a customer is a bus. 48 people on board, everybody has an opinion, the bus stops at every corner for people to get off and on the bus. That is a s-l-o-w sales process. Then there are Ideal Customers that have buying processes that is more like a Formula 1 car. Super fast. Makes you feel like a brilliant sales person. If you have the choice between different targets with different inherent speeds in their buying process, and you are a start-up with limited funds and only so much funding runway, choose to market and sell to an Ideal Customer with a reasonable inherent speed in their buying process.
The speed will be dictated by a combination of the type of organization, how critical the problem is that you solve for them, and the level of the person you would sell to and their power to buy.
2. Go Speed Bump:
During the product development stage you have been focused on the product, features, code, demos. And that is all part of a language I call “Techlish.” Technology companies speak it fluently. But the switch to sales requires a change in language.
There is a rule that you will get delegated to the person whose language you speak. Just think about it: if you speak English in the Gare Central in Paris, you will delegated to someone who can speak a few words of English. If you speak Technical, or all about products and features, and cannot speak the language of business problems and business benefits, you will get delegated to users and technical evaluators who often do not have the power to buy.
The right exercise to do before you Go! is to make sure you have your business messaging down pat.
3. Scale Speed Bump:
When you get to the happy stage of being ready to scale, you’ve figured a few things out about your sales process and you are ready to multiply it across a growing sales team or sales channel.
What you need now is a documented sales process that documents your best practices, married with industry best practices. When you hire a team or sign up a channel you can accelerate their “new” to “revenue” with a sales process that you know will work.