We’ve all been there. Rather than spend the extra two hours on a Friday night to log your sales data for the week, you head home for some much-needed relaxation. It’s not going to affect your startup that much…right?
Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But make no mistake: This line of thinking can catch up with you — quickly.
Starting and building a business demands all your time and energy. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on your agenda, which is why everyone involved in launching your startup needs to wear several hats.
Sure, it can be exhausting, and you might be tempted to cut corners on sales to ease the burden on you and your team. But relying on shortcuts or postponing sales goals can have crippling effects on the long-term growth of your business.
Instead of taking an easier route, work to avoid these common startup pitfalls:
1. Outdated Sales Practices
Social media and marketing automation tools are no longer luxuries — even for the most local of local businesses. It’s essential to keep up with current sales methods and understand how technology can affect these practices.
Many CEOs don’t adopt an inbound-focused “sales 2.0” methodology quickly enough, and they almost immediately fall behind as competitors benefit from these rapidly expanding new channels.
As social networking and marketing automation continue to develop, non-interruptive marketing and sales practices will become the norm. Leaders who don’t take a “sales 2.0” approach will find themselves with inefficient processes that likely won’t deliver a strong ROI, and competitors that take advantage of these sales channels and marketing tools will leave these lagging companies in the dust.
2. Inefficient Databases
Successful sales practices are based on accurate information. Many CEOs simply don’t understand how valuable a fresh and enhanced database is to the process.
For example, they might continue to dump money into an outbound dialing resource without realizing that the logged information is bad or outdated. If 50 percent of your database information is obsolete, then 50 percent of your calls aren’t connecting.
How can any company achieve a positive ROI by using a half-populated database with dead-end leads? Without budgeting for an updated database at regular intervals, you’re likely losing sales and opportunities to engage your current customers.
3. Limited Training
In most startups, managers must oversee daily operations and contact efforts, and sales teams are often left with no supervision. Soon, the quality and quantity of opportunities diminish, and growth grinds to a halt.
Even if initial employee training is spectacular, every salesperson can benefit from regular, continuous training. Learning new sales techniques (and developing existing ones) is an ongoing process, and your sales team must stay relevant with new strategies and technology to sell effectively.
4. Lackluster Follow-Ups
Unfortunately, many leaders also don’t understand the value of following up with clients on a regular basis. Nurturing a customer relationship requires steady contact.
Set follow-up appointments after each meeting to build trust and maintain contact. This can also help expand your service. What new strategies, products, or technology can you offer? Is all your contact information current and applicable? Include a summary of your previous communication and an agenda for the upcoming meeting. These seemingly small details can make every follow-up more effective.
5. Poor Data Management
Another common shortcut that can kill a business is disorganized data management. CEOs who don’t make their team update opportunities and make notes in the CRM are left with a slew of context-free metrics, none of which will benefit your bottom line.
Making reliable predictions becomes impossible when accurate record-keeping starts to slide.
Managers should not just assume databases are being updated; they should spot-check that sales reps are making notes on a regular basis. This is another pertinent detail that can get overlooked when managers are overloaded.
Startup Sales Strategies for Long-Term Success
The common problems noted above reflect the time, budgetary, and personnel constraints most startups face. The following strategies can help alleviate these issues from the outset:
Create a consistent written plan of action, and develop timely checklists based on that plan.
- Envision and record how your short-term goals (daily, weekly, quarterly) support your long-term growth. Defined goals posted in your workspace help your employees see how the day’s tasks fit into the big picture.
- Review your business practices monthly or quarterly to analyze areas that need improvement. Communicate these areas to your entire team, and ask for suggestions on appropriate strategies.
- Maintain your focus. This sounds easy, but if you had a rough quarter and start scrambling to “diversify” to seek immediate revenue, you are sacrificing your vision and continuity.
Startups, by nature, are often stretched thin on personnel and resources, but cutting corners on the sales side weakens your daily operations, client relationships, and future opportunities.
While you might find yourself able to get by with little organization or strategy, these short-term savings can be detrimental to your future success.
John McLellan is the Chief Revenue Officer of EBQuickstart, the ultimate source for outsourced sales solutions. EBQ is a sales and marketing firm that helps companies outsource lead generation, sales, marketing, data, and customer service. John can be reached on Twitter or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.