Whatever your industry, mission or role, your ultimate success will be determined by how well you:
- Identify the activities that move the needle for your cause.
- Establish repeatable playbooks and systems for executing those activities.
- Automate and delegate your way out of the muck.
At Pagely we embrace the practice of systems thinking and prefer instead of building solutions to build “systems that solve.” This is a fundamentally different philosophy to problem solving and I wanted to share the thinking behind our approach for how we’ve systematized our sales process.
I gave a talk recently for Canopy.City in Lisbon, Portugal on the 7-step approach I developed to put our “sales on rails.”
If you can tolerate the room reverb in the audio this talk has gold in it.
Here are the slides from the talk:
Before focusing your efforts on sales systematization you should first ensure that you have product-market fit (PM fit). Until you do it’s squandered calories to focus on amplifying something that’s broken. The talk explains the orientation of how you know where you fall on this spectrum and when it’s appropriate to shift emphasis towards growth activities like systematizing your sales process.
When you start a company, particularly a startup, until you make more money than you’re spending you’re basically drowning. The goal is to get to buoyancy (cash flow neutral) before you drown.
Thinking About Sales from the Get Go
It’s easy to fixate exclusively on product development in the early stages but you really need to be thinking about sales & marketing from the start. Sales are what will keep your business afloat and to the extent you can get to sustainable revenue on your own, you’re in a far better negotiating position because you can either:
- A) Not raise money, stay bootstrapped and grow slowly and healthily purely from revenue or…
- B) Raise investment but from a position of strength because 1) you don’t need it and therefore have walk-away power and 2) You’ve proven the engine works already so the money you’re raising is to buy gas vs. building the engine. This removes much of the speculation and is a far easier thing to pitch investors.
“Revenue cures all ills…”
As long as you’re bringing in more money than you’re spending, even if you’re making a ton of other mistakes you’ll have time to figure it all out because you’re at least not drowning.
Pre-Product Market Fit
Growth is all about amplifying something that is working. If you don’t have product market fit, you shouldn’t focus on trying to amplify something that’s broken. You should spend your time fixing what’s broken and worry about growth later. If you’re in this position drop everything and go take this free online course from Steve Blank.
Post-Product Market Fit
Once you have attained product market fit, your emphasis shifts to growth and in growth mode you focus on two things:
- Marketing: boosting awareness and demand of your product.
- Sales: refining the process by which you convert leads into paying, happy customers that stick around and tell their friends about you.
Assuming you’re on the right side of PM fit and are truly now in growth mode, the 7-step framework for sales systematization I propose consists of these sequential steps:
The 7 Step Framework to Systematize Sales
The talk gives you the thinking behind each of these steps, how they fit together and stack on one another. I demo the guts of how we implemented each conceptual step in practice.
Our Sales Approach at Pagely
Sales is just customer service before they’re a customer.
Resources that sculpted our world view on sales
- Systems Thinking Thinking in Systems – Donella Meadows
- Scaling Personal Attention AutomationClinic – Jermaine Griggs
- Leader Leader Turn the Ship Around – David Marquette
- Extreme Ownership Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink
- Customer Development Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad on Udacity
- Lean Methodology Running Lean – Ash Maurya
- Sales Methodology SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham
- Consultative Selling Solution Selling – Michael Bosworth
- Working on not in your biz E-myth – Michael Gerber
A few helpful questions you can ask yourself towards the end goal of systematizing your sales process:
- What consumes most of your day right now?
- Which of these tasks can you straight up eliminate because they don’t really move the needle for the business?
- Of the tasks which are left what are the recipes for performing these activities? Write these out like you’re making a food recipe.
- Can you use automation or delegation to offload this work and extricate yourself from these activities? If not, why not?
In all this effort has translated to more than 3x’ing our ARR revenue since this process began three years ago. There are obviously a host of other variables at work here and we have both an incredible team and product so I can’t attribute all that revenue growth to this framework but we would not have the sales team nor sales engine we have today were it not for implementing these essential, foundational steps.
I recommend watching the video above while following along with the slides underneath it. In the talk I walk you through each of the 7 steps in the framework to systematizing your sales process. As a reminder these 7 steps are:
- Map Out Flows to understand the current reality.
- Track Metrics & KPI’s to measure progress.
- Establish a Process to keep your sanity.
- Flintstone Things to get the bus moving.
- Delegate to keep the wheels from falling off.
- Automate to unkink the horse.
- Scale Personal Attention to amplify your team.
I hope you find this framework helpful in putting your own sales process on rails. You can try out the choose your own adventure virtual sales consult I demo’d in step #7 right now. Give it a shot and let me know in the comments if you have any advice of your own for what’s worked well in systematizing your sales process. Cheers!