Written by Robert Leitch.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business. Having a strong sales team translates to higher revenue, the most important component of maintaining a company. To truly be successful, however, sales must be predictable. Among other things, predictability allows managers to determine ways to invest revenue back into the company to promote its continual growth. For many new entrepreneurs, forecasting sales and knowing how to invest in their business can be a challenge.
“If you don’t have predictable sales, you run into two options,” said Michael Morgan, CEO of Updox. “You can either invest money you know you don’t have, which puts your company in jeopardy, or you can never invest a single cent, which means your company won’t grow.”
Morgan says many entrepreneurs spend too much of their time focusing on creating a beautiful product and not enough time determining the best sales channels and strategies for getting that product to the masses.
Here are four tips from Morgan to create strong sales for your new business:
- Everyone is a salesperson. Every employee in a company should feel a responsibility to make the customer happy. A positive customer experience leads to other new customers, which increases revenue. This initiative should be company-wide, from the CEO to the development and fundraising teams. At Updox, every employee gets a yearly bonus — but half of that bonus is tied to sales performance. According to Morgan, this helps his employees keep the customer’s satisfaction front of mind at all times.
- Marketing first, sales second. This has been a significant debate in the startup community for years. Most new companies think their first hire should be a salesperson. Morgan says this should not be the case. While a salesperson can sell and close a deal with a new customer, there has to be demand from new customers in the first place. Marketing is designed to create that demand to make sure sales becomes a replicable process. Without a strong marketing effort, you may find yourself with only one or two customers.
- Measure everything. In the world of sales, data is king. Companies need to keep track of their sales successes and failures from day one and evaluate their performance on a continuous basis. Without this kind of analysis, there’s no way to modify sales behaviors and tactics to keep the business growing. While many entrepreneurs feel they don’t have time to collect and analyze this type of data, Morgan says it’s critical to determine what works and then repeat that process over and over again.
- Hire smart, not fast. After you have successfully hired your first salesperson, it’s important to be deliberate about the sales employees you bring on after that. Salespeople all bring different skills to the table. Some may take a more drawn-out, steady approach when selling to clients while others go for the “close quickly and aggressively.” As an early stage company, it’s impossible to know what sales method will be the most successful, so hire a wide variety of sales styles. This will allow you to determine what method works best for you and hire more people like that in the future.
Morgan says while he has made many sales mistakes during his time as an entrepreneur, the stumbling blocks have helped him grow and have made Updox the success it is today. He encourages entrepreneurs to keep trying new, innovative sales tactics until they find the ones that help them scale their business, generate sustainable revenue and hire additional employees.
Updox, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a healthcare IT company that consolidates the communication between doctors and their patients into one central, secure, web-based location. The company received its first outside capital from Rev1 Ventures, a central Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier.