After dealing with a long winter, most of us are ready to jump into a fresh season. The feeling of rejuvenation and change is exhilarating not only within our personal lives but also in our business efforts. Moving into spring fills us up with much to look forward to even if you have to face an adjustment. It’s also a great time to initiate change toward business development, taking advantage of the momentous occasion.
If you are trying to release a new corporate product into the marketplace or if your startup needs restoration to get fit for funding or M&A, below are six accelerating tips you should consider in Q2 that will keep you on track, before 2019 passes by.
1. Customer Development Sprint(s)
Within 30 days, target 15+ customer interviews and set a goal to have a minimum of 10 successful conversations to help validate problem(s), validate solution(s), identify early adopters, how to sell to them, and learnings that help to prioritize how best to de-risk your product, business model, and go-to-market. To stay on target, follow the four-step framework developed by Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur, and business school Professor:
Customer Discovery - find out who your customers are and whether what you provide solves their problem. Ask open-ended questions that are not entirely focused on the difficulties and allow the customer to do most of the talking, while someone else takes notes.
Customer Validation - build a repeatable sales process that is proven and field-tested by selling your product to early customers. Establish a set of customers and a market that reacts positively to your product by purchases.
Customer Creation - move large marketing initiatives after your startup acquires its first customers and control the cash burn rate to protect the company’s most precious assets.
Company Building - make the transition from a learning and discovery team into formal departments with VPs of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Executives now focus on building mission-oriented departments that can exploit the early market success.
2. Sales Development Sprint
Consider your current size and quality of your CRM data and the current state of your people, process, and product. Evaluate for 60-180 days, depending upon your sales-cycle and organizational readiness. In most cases, companies need to target across sectors even functional areas, and each will require their engaging hook even for a sales pitch presentation. Try an agile, efficient process and track performance metrics accountability within your CRM and a forecasting tool like P3rceive. Identify interesting targets and tactics to reach and engage with them along their journey by testing your sales message and your brand perception. Evaluate the alignment of your sales and marketing messaging that needs to revolve around your point of difference in the marketplace. This understanding is critical and will showcase your professionalism and integrity. Also, analyze and tweak customer contract negotiations based upon a true collaboration. Respond to all feedback and changes instead of following a rigid plan.
3. Pipeline Building & Enablement
In this step, build a scalable lead generation engine that is managed by a small team. Optimize performance instead of results by welcoming observation from your internal people and outside expertise. This pursuit will guide you to pinpoint the priority areas to improve on. Try organizing a mega sprint around worthy accounts with prospecting agenda emphasized on purchase decisions, number of conversations, intro calls that include demos, opportunities generated, and transactions closed. Test and implement a sales tech stack that supports performance improvements and leads to revenue. Data cleanup is also essential during this step as well as the hand-offs between Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success. The type of questions to be asking yourself are:
Do any of your team members need help closing deals?
Are cold email conversion rates across the board too low?
Is the team moving too slowly to hit the weekly goal?
4. Pipeline Progression & Sales Coaching
It’s now time in your acceleration efforts to improve your performance in the areas that optimize Revenue Management. Look at developing sales scripts, process steps, and collateral material to help take control. Also, consider working with a sales coach that is veteran in sales and potentially held a vice president position. This type of involvement can quickly generate more confidence with your team and push toward faster results. Our strategic partners at The Devereux Group who have amazing training content created a simple tool that can very quickly identify the issues your team might be going through or challenged. Try using this short survey that they’ve aptly named Being Unstoppable.
5. Establish Strategic Partners
Research the products and companies that are related to what you offer and can help you achieve your goals. They may share expertise, resources or competencies for mutual benefit. Early in the life-cycle of most startups, this approach can give you a huge advantage. Put yourself on a quest to find quantitative partners that can assist in delivering sales opportunities to provide you with a boost in revenue. Occasionally, they can be a part of your launch or entry into the marketplace helping with lead generation sales. At times they can be a partner that will help accelerate a long sales cycle while providing insight into the decision-making mindset of your customer’s journey. Either way, securing a strategic partner will improve your aim and also in return help mutual success. To gain a critical competitive advantage, make your partnerships exclusive.
6. Marketing Sprint(s)
Within 60-180 days, depending on the number of your sales channel opportunities, we suggest to develop tactics, split test two different campaign approaches and then adjust accordingly. This flow will give you a great chance to learn from your marketing segments, what they react to as positive and what they don’t consider. During the development be sure to stick to a clear sales message that leverages three differences your competition can't make claim too and that empowers you to be on the top. Continue to evaluate your hypothesis and business vision during this part of the journey to accelerate a decision-making process for your next move. Here are some marketing opportunities to consider optimizing and testing:
As the seasons finally shift gears and your excitement grows toward a resurgence of hope and change, we can choose to make the most of this occasion, especially in your business endeavor. If you feel stuck in your business progress or even overwhelmed by your business' status in the marketplace maybe it’s time to radiate hope by utilizing these acceleration strategies through Q3 and Q4.