Having a sales strategy in place is very important for start-up, and while it can be easy for new entrepreneurs to ignore a sales role, it is an integral part of building a company, according to experts.
According to Martin Boucher, a vice-president at the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA), many entrepreneurs plough ahead with the idea that they’ll improvise their sales strategy as they go along, an article in the Globe and Mail said.
“Sales success requires a well-established sales methodology, with clearly defined action steps, expectations, key performance indicators, a system,” Boucher said.
Professional sales staff can be essential to bringing that expertise on board, but good help can be hard to find. A study by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis Institute in 2016 found that staffing sales positions were technology firms’ biggest human-resources challenge and a significant crimp in the scale-up strategies of Canadian start-ups.
One place to start is the CPSA, which connects its 27,000 accredited members with companies looking to hire, and offers consultations to that end, the article added.
One significant benefit of bringing in outside expertise merely is that a for-hire salesperson won’t have the vested interest in a product that a founder does – and that’s good. Where founders often default straight to product demonstrations and showing off features, a good salesperson is customer-focused, not product-focused, according to experts.
By being focused on the customer, they can create a better experience for the customer and also bring in more business for the company.
Having a good salesperson who can make the customer understand that they need the product can be a great asset to the company. However not every company needs to hire an outsider to take on the role of a sales executive; it all depends on the personality of the entrepreneur.
Here are some resources listed in the Globe and Mail article to help entrepreneurs develop their sales and marketing strategies.
Canadian Professional Sales Association: The CPSA offers online and in-person courses nationwide. The course fees can be a bit hefty, however, and there are prerequisites before enrolling.
MaRS Innovation: Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District offers a three-part “Sales ABC” workshop in communities across Ontario and focuses on B2B sales.
For entrepreneurs unable to attend an in-person workshop, try “Selling for Entrepreneurs,” an online course looking at B2B and B2C sales.
Business Development Bank of Canada: The BDC offers a wealth of free online resources for new business, as well as a national network of consultants who work one-on-one with new companies on sales and marketing strategy.
Federal government: Ottawa provides a variety of free online and in-person events as well as webinars on all aspects of setting up and maintaining a business, including a reasonably basic but useful collection of resources on sales and marketing.