Victor Adefuye is founder and CEO of Dana Consulting, a firm that helps B2B companies accelerate their sales efforts. A former lawyer who has seen too many businesses make the same mistakes around sales planning, hiring and management, Victor set about changing this status quo. Below, Victor gives us his top tips for organizations who are already experiencing or looking to achieve hyper growth.
1) Know your customer.
The single most defining factor to achieving hyper growth is deep knowledge of your customer. You have to know what makes them tick, what their challenges are, what market pressures they are experiencing and what their motivations are for wanting to buy. By understanding these granular details, you know how best to serve them and deliver value. This works for any kind of business, from FMCG to services to tech and beyond.
2) Determine your ideal accounts.
To construct your ideal customer profile you need to analyze your existing accounts. Look at your best accounts and understand their similarities; do they share the same pain points, the same structure, or the same markets for example? Then work your segmentation and profiling from there.
3) Don’t just sell to your best accounts, talk to them.
Your best accounts are a goldmine of information for helping you pursue more prospects. Interview your best customers and discover what value you bring to their business. Know their decision-making process, the job roles involved in picking your solution and the language they use to describe your value. Understanding these details will allow you to replicate them as you target similar prospects.
4) Get your messaging right.
One of the biggest challenges when trying to reach your target accounts is your messaging and value proposition. Whether it’s a cold call or email, a networking event or a referral, you have a very short period of time to engage prospects and entice them to start a conversation with you. Articulate what you do and the value you bring succinctly and professionally. Consider the language you use, the tone and the channel. Everything should make the customer think ‘I’ve experienced those challenges’, or ‘I can see myself using this product/service.
5) Get your sales and marketing teams aligned.
In many organizations sales and marketing work in silos. They might have an obligatory meeting once a week or per quarter, but they operate in different hemispheres. Sales people are the frontline – they speak to customers and prospects all day. They see changes in the market that can help marketers target better. Marketers have the research behind their campaigns and they know what messaging resonates. Sharing these insights and learning from each other is essential. Set up SLAs to manage each teams’ expectations, and define the terms together; what makes an MQL, how quickly should sales respond to a lead, for example. This is critical to alignment and will determine the success of both teams.
6) Arm your teams with the ability to listen.
Asking questions and listening carefully to the answers is the best skill a B2B sales person can have. By helping your customers understand the gravity their own challenges you are setting them on the path to purchase. Being curious about the customer and understanding their world will not only help sales, but marketing can use the insight to create more effective collateral and understand customers’ motivations for making a purchase.
7) Scale your sales…..
For businesses to reach the hyper-growth stage, they need to have a repeatable and scalable sales process. A different strategy for every customer is too time consuming, but if it’s too generic and bland the customer won’t engage. Develop a proven method for reaching your ideal customers and then repeat it. You should know that if you send 100 emails out you are likely to get X responses with X number of sales. This is only possible by experimentation, which leads to understanding what works for customers and what doesn’t.
8) ….but don’t scale your team too quickly.
The single biggest point of failure for a company trying to grow substantially is prematurely scaling sales and marketing teams. When they achieve early success, many companies raise funding and quickly hire sales and marketing teams. This of course results in an increased burn rate which is problematic if sales don’t make up for the shortfall. Company founders then blame the sales and marketing teams, when the reality is they didn’t know the customer well enough or the best ways of reaching them at the start. The founders should spend time validating their product, their value proposition and sales process on their own, before investing in hiring more people. They must be confident that they’ve discovered a repeatable and scalable sales process. Otherwise, salespeople are forced to experiment and learn about the market on their own, which delays their productivity.
9) Innovate and stay on top of industry trends.
Be obsessed with delivering value to your customers through innovation. Reinvent what you do by constantly looking for ways to do it better. Innovation means you’ve developed a more effective method of solving an existing problem, with fewer shortcomings than previous efforts. That’s what customers want. Staying on top of industry trends and market changes will power your innovation because you’ll understand how market shifts impact your customers – and consequently your business too.
10) Don’t underestimate the sales team.
There’s often an underappreciation of sales in general and sales teams in particular. Founders understand that sales teams bring in the revenue that supports the business, but they often also believe their product or service is so good that it sells itself. Successful companies have a great product, but they also have a repeatable, consistent sales process and sales teams who are knowledgeable of sales best practices and have a deep understanding of customers. Sales isn’t easy; if it were, everyone would do it. That’s why the best salespeople are so well compensated. What they do is the lifeblood of every business. Don’t underestimate the complexity and primacy of sales or take your salespeople for granted.