Sales are the beating heart of your business. Without a consistent stream of increasing revenue, your company doesn’t stand a chance in today’s fast-paced, ultra-competitive market. The more money your business has, the more it can afford to invest in its employees, marketing, assets, and so on. In other words, it’s in everyone’s best interest to want the sales department to succeed.
But what if you are a brand’s first sales hire? The pressure to create business and drive revenue now rests solely on your shoulders. Your performance determines the fate of the company. If that’s the case, you have a tremendous responsibility to handle! But there’s good news: supercharging your brand’s sales performance is all about increasing your ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue).
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the seven steps to supercharging your ARR and becoming your company’s MVP as a first sales hire!
Step 1: Never Stop Closing
This first step is pretty self-explanatory, but it deserves mention. If you want to generate more revenue, you need to close more sales. The secret behind supercharging your ARR and general sales performance is to constantly look for closing opportunities.
Closing new business and building your customer base is the most valuable thing you can do as a salesperson. No other activity has as much of a profound impact on your business and its bottom line as closing deals! If you want to break records and unlock your sales potential, dedicate at least half of your day to generating new revenue.
And yes, it may be lonely at times. One thing we recommend for first sales hires is to find an outside partner/mentor. Be sure to speak with someone 1-2/week as you get yourself ramped. Let them be your voice of reason and give an outsider’s perspective on what you are focusing on.
Step 2: Do the Math
Before you can create a plan for multiplying your AAR, you must understand how close you are to your goals, what aspects of your sales game need to change, and what it will take to succeed. The better you understand the terrain of your sales landscape, the more proactive and informed you’ll be in your planning and performance.
There is some very interesting information that actually makes it easier for you to close more business now in 2021 and beyond than ever before. According to research from Salesforce, 80% of business buyers expect to do more business online after the pandemic than before.
Learn the big, significant numbers that impact your sales performance. Some crucial metrics include:
- How many meetings can you set in a week.
- How many accounts do you need to reach your ARR goal?
- How long is your current sales cycle, if known?
- What is the current close ratio based on a first meeting occuring?
- When you don’t close a deal, why is this happening specifically? What are the prospects saying?
As the first sales hire, you have a unique opportunity to experiment with a sales process. The goal isn’t necessarily to build an exact process right now. It’s to have conversations and see what process bubbles to the top. Take advantage of your autonomy and work closely with your business leaders to optimize the sales process!
Step 3: Make Customers WILDLY Successful
Nobody sells your product or service better than your own customers. Period. Not your CEO, not you, not customer success. This means that if you land new customers, it is important that you force (yes, force) your organization to onboard them properly. Make sure the customer is using the product/service quickly and appropriately.
You are encouraged to speak to these customers regularly to keep getting their feedback. Your relationship with the early customers will help you get the customer quotes and case studies you need.
Secret tip on this at the end of the article to help in pricing and negotiations.
Step 4: Understand An Early Stage Sales Process
Early on you are just looking and listening for ways to create a good process. As a first sales rep, there is rarely a sales process designed, so make sure yours is QDSNC’d properly.
- Stage 1 – Qualifying (do they fit your ICP Ideal Customer Profile?)
- Stage 2 – Discovery (about their pains)
- Stage 3 – Selection
- Stage 4 – Negotiations
- Stage 5 – Closing
Now in each stage, what is the required exit criteria to leave that stage? These are often specific activities. First call scheduled, first call completed, discussed ____, use cases, demos, launch date discussed, decision making process discussed, legal review process discussed, and pricing discussion confirmed.
All of this will help you now and in the future as you start to scale.
Step 5: Map Their Pains to Your Solutions
You can do all the internal research and optimization in the world, but nothing beats genuine client feedback. Understanding why your clients buy your product is just as important as understanding the product itself. If you know why they buy, you actually know your product.
If you want to get a realistic, detailed view of your sales situation, you must talk with a wide range of prospects and customers – not just the satisfied ones. To get a clear picture of your circumstances, you’ll want to speak with your three best clients, your three worst clients, and three potential clients who said no. Here’s what you should be trying to find out from each group:
- What specific pain/problem made them consider your product?
- What other, secondary pains has the product helped them resolve?
- How is their company doing better now that their pains have been solved?
- How does this newly found, better performance impact their business as a whole?
- What specific pain/problem were they hoping to solve when they bought your product?
- What has slowed the adoption of your product? More importantly, was it your company or them?
- How can you support them better in the future?
- If contract renewal was tomorrow, what would they do and why?
- What specific pain/problem were they hoping to solve when they first spoke to you?
- How did they solve their pain after choosing not to work with you?
- Since they decided to look the other way, was there a bigger, more critical problem that required their attention first? If so, what was it?
- Was there something specific about your product/company that they didn’t like or made them believe you weren’t a good fit?
Remember the NBC moments? “The more you know, the more you grow.”
Step 6: Put It All Together
If you’ve followed the five steps above, you should have a crystal clear understanding of your role as the first sales hire. You have committed to prioritizing closing, you’ve done the math and set goals, you understand where you are now is not where you are going to be in a few months. And you are speaking to real customers and former prospects to find out what needs to be better, both in the sales conversation and/or the product itself.
Regardless of what your next steps for success are, ensure they’re strategic and well informed. It’s ok to sleep on your plans a little and check them for discrepancies or errors.
Step 7: Sharing Feedback with Your Founders(s)/ C-Level
Share your feedback candidly with your founder(s) and C-Levels. Even if they don’t want to hear the truth, it’s your job to make sure they are aware of it. Do it professionally of course. Remind them that more perspectives = more insight.
The biggest challenge you may face as the first sales hire with founders is their lack of knowledge of their own super power. Their superpower is them and their title. When they speak with prospects and customers there is an immediate trust by the customer. If the product doesn’t work, they know who to contact. So often, founders get frustrated that it seems so easy for them to sell that they think, “Why can’t everyone do what I do?”. It’s simple, not everyone is that founder. The company is not the sales reps’ baby. The reps don’t have the depth and breadth of knowledge like a founder.
Be mindful of them. Be honest as well. That will help you win the internal battle.
Now for that secret tip mentioned above:
In all contracts there should be a marketing and name usage paragraph that everyone will do a case study and/or provide a quote within 60 days of onboarding. It should be there by default for the following reasons:
- Let them or their legal team ask for it to be removed.
- It turns into your leverage when they ask for a discount.
- Lots of companies don’t seem to care.
- You don’t have to make them do it if you don’t want to.
There you have it! The seven steps to supercharging your ARR as the first sales hire! Follow these steps, and you’ll be your brand’s MVP in no time. If you want to learn more about how to amplify your sales performance, check out our N.E.A.T. Selling™ Online Sales Training where you’ll learn how to get better qualified deals entering your pipeline and increase revenue significantly. Or book a time to chat with Richard here.