If you are a scale up business, you know there is some market fit and you will have felt at times that “sales is working”, so it can be very frustrating when sales growth stalls.
The Scale up Institute states that the “markets gap” is one of the key barriers to further growth, their focus on being how Government should do more to make the public sector (at 30% of GDP in the UK, a significant opportunity) and foreign markets (never harder but still enormous opportunities) more accessible. Being able to tap into previous experience of exporting goods and services, managing overseas teams, navigating procurement practices or expansion amid complex regulatory challenges provides our clients with a competitive edge but in our experience these are very specific issues and sales challenges and opportunities are broader.
The more common challenges that we see our clients dealing with are as follows:
- Adapting the sales narrative to scale across a team and deal with new markets for growth. Going beyond the core proposition, this is the narrative that enables sales to engage and apply performance marketing. In B2B to support complex decision-making and in D2C or SAAS activity to go beyond transactional acquisition marketing. It’s creating a solution that can scale and keep repeating itself. Inherent optimism and confidence can mean that it is difficult to address the challenges objectively without a loss of passion – sometimes the key ingredient for earlier stages of growth.
- Selecting the right people to take the sales forward, which is often held back by not clearly identifying the talent deficit so a business searches for the ‘perfect’ individual, rather being more realistic and accepting a team of different skills. Typical confusion includes expecting a leader to be the primary seller, not distinguishing between hunters and farmers, expecting sales to be great administrators without support (they might be, but that’s not the best reason to employ them).
- Getting the right culture in sales and mistakenly applying practices that work for other business functions on sales. Sales should nearly always be a market-based culture and helping to implement a (carefully defined) sales-based culture across a business has been a key to several clients’ accelerated growth.
- Prioritisation of sales effort is often the turnkey initiative, especially when applied to a focus on segmentation, positioning or high value customers (once they have been fully accessed) and to develop retention.
We provide a range of support for leadership with sales development to help leaders fully assess their current situation and implement effective solutions to accelerate a journey of sales development, including strategic reviews, cultural alignment, mentoring, restructuring and process development. Drawing on scale up and high growth experience from venture boards to listed companies, we provide integrated strategic support for entrepreneurial teams. If you would like a confidential conversation to understand how we might help you, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for one of our specialists to get back to you.
Are you a high growth business?
If you are wondering what a scale up business is, it’s a fair point and is defined by the Scale Up Institute as businesses surpassing the £10m turnover level or with assets of more than £5.1m and sales growth of 15%-20%. The threshold mirrors current financial reporting thresholds that mean this is the first opportunity for those businesses to be visible and in reality, there are many more scale ups – fast growing businesses of substance that fall below these limits but are nonetheless experiencing similar growth challenges. It also means that these are proven businesses who have gone far beyond the MVP and market validation challenges of earlier stage businesses. To see an overview of the top challenges facing scale up businesses, see our article “Top five challenges for scaling businesses”