Letting Go of the Sales Reins to Scale a Startup

Entrepreneurs are experts at selling their businesses. After preaching their innovative ideas to venture capitalists and investors, hopefully they grow to a point where they need to be entrusted to a team to sell the product to costumers. While it can be hard to let go of the reins, knowing where to let your team take the lead with sales will allow you to scale your big idea into a reality. As a highly competitive market, it takes this approach and execution to scale.

Today’s case study in sales execution is Uber. In just five short years,  it has rapidly grown to provide transportation services to 70 cities across the world. Through their meticulously designed business model, Uber has been able to completely change the way people commute. One sales process that has propelled Uber’s customer loyalty is their employee training and actionable rating system. After a thorough background check, Uber drivers are educated on the appropriate conversation and conduct to inspire and maintain trust in their clients. Furthermore, they are connected to Uber community spaces to get feedback, suggestions, and support from other drivers. After each sale, both drivers and customers rate the other to screen out bad drivers and abusive users. If any customers rate a driver a three (out of five) or below, customer service representatives immediately contact them to learn why they had a poor experience and how it can be improved in the future. This process of automated performance appraisals and following up can reconvert an unhappy customer and build up brand perception. In this regard, Uber’s drivers have become the same type of brand ambassadors and sales team that the baristas at Starbucks are for Howard Schultz.

Furthermore, this use of data analytics and continuous revision will allow you to effectively shape the face of your salesforce. Select and develop a process for the metrics you need to track in order for future analysis. Pay close attention to the conversion rates in your buyers funnel and where the bottlenecks are. Patterns will ultimately arise that you can tap into to reform those bottlenecks and maximize your bottom line. As you build a scalable sales process – pitches, demo script, slides, etc. – continuously debrief progress and leverage the best-performing sales members to improve it. Communication between sales and marketing is also essential for cross-functional collaboration and brand management.

You an still be a coach of sales, while letting go of the sales reins. Remember to emphasize the importance of listening to your customers  to your team in this capacity. As others have noted, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Not only will this help build relationships and trust, but also help you fine tune your product market fit. As you continue to manage this process don’t make the mistake of hiring seasoned or senior sales people who can’t tolerate the flexible and unpredictable culture of a young startup. Not only are they very expensive, but they may not have the refreshing passion of someone with less experience.

Lastly, after you nurture and grow your sales force, you will want to invest in a CRM system to put a moat around the progress you’ve made. This will store essential consumer data and supply you with the real-time insights  into what the next sales step should be.

By building trust between yourself, the sales force, and your customers, you will successfully drive your startup’s revenues and growth, while stepping back from being Chief Sales Officer.

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