3 min read

Designing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Designing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

Takeaways from the Luminate Photonics Accelerator

Since its inception 7 years ago, we’ve had the privilege of teaching sales and marketing strategy to each cohort class of startups. This session covered:

  • Building the sales funnel
  • Filling your sales funnel
  • Effective lead generation
  • Managing your funnel
  • Presenting your funnel to investors

These B2B tech companies are more sophisticated every year—while all are seeking investment, many are already generating revenue and engaged in initial product pilots. All are planning product launches and entering new markets.

The founders and entrepreneurs ask a lot of smart questions:

How do I set up a new sales director for success? What should sales reporting to leadership and investors look like?

A sales director or manager needs to be aligned with leadership on top-level revenue and retention goals, and work backward to set KPIs down to activity level—to help arm everyone involved with sales with KPIs they can control. How many calls, meetings? What does marketing need to achieve for web traffic and leads, sales qualified leads? A shared common real-time and forward-looking dashboard will minimize the amount of wasted time on reporting. Focus on the few meaningful metrics everyone understands and can take action on.

What are the right KPIs for sales reporting and planning?

Investors and leadership will be looking at the following KPIs: Revenue and margin, opportunity-to-win ration, deal size—average and trend, pipeline velocity, customer acquisition ratio (customer lifetime value / customer acquisition cost), and ROI per marketing and sales channel.

How do I achieve the right mix of sales activities and customer intimacy for today’s buyers?

In short, ask. Customer discovery, voice of the customer, and customer personas—customer research should inform your sales process and sales activity mix. Many B2B technology sales are driven by engineers, who will do their own research, determine what they believe to be the right solution, before engaging with sales. With effective digital marketing, in many cases, your first face-to-face meeting is after the first purchase. Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to get to know your customer better.

Earlier in the sales process, ask at the first meeting how they prefer to be reached—phone or text? Zoom or Teams?

Audit your marketing touchpoints—is your phone system easy to navigate? Does your chat functionality help them reach an answer or the right person efficiently?

How can I increase sales efficiency, especially in sales discovery?

82% of B2B buyers think sales reps are underprepared for the first meeting. You can’t downplay the need for prep work, but you can minimize the time it takes. AI and integrated marketing platforms can help to make company profiles and trends at your fingertips. Set up google alerts for your top target companies. Use sales automation like book-me tools, email templates, and email sequences to minimize repeat low-value tasks.

How do I get started in planning for product launch?

Based on your technology readiness and anticipated sales cycle length, here are some rules of thumb:

  • 12-24 months pre-launch: Awareness of technology. Build champions.
  • 6-12 months pre-launch: Build interest and database.
  • 0-6 months pre-launch: Build the target list of prospects.

Where appropriate, consider a teaser campaign or build a waitlist. If it’s too soon to talk about the product, start talking about the problem and technology.

If I have to choose between a salesperson with no technical background, or a technical expert with no sales experience, who is more likely to succeed?

There’s always a tradeoff, but for a technical product selling to technical people, I’d rather hire a technical expert willing to sell, hands down. They will bring more value and be perceived as more credible to your prospect. They will require quite a bit of training, though. That’s why we teach at programs like these, or in our summer boot camp. Ask about training specific to your organization.

How do I establish market sizing for a niche market?

There is very little reliable data for very niche markets---you may be able determine market size for lasers, for example, but have to deduce percent of total for diodes, in the US, within a power range. You may also have several markets or applications for the same technology—approach them separately. We have done market sizing for many niche markets—the most important guidance we can give you is to “show your work”—to let your board or investors know your assumptions and considerations.

Is there any way to speed the sales cycle, especially in legal and negotiation?

Unfortunately no, except to remove any barriers. Speed helps—have your documents at hand, or directly in a web portal (NDA forms, W9, etc.). Ask early their process, to know if they’re experienced in onboarding new vendors, or if you’ll need to ask for an introduction to someone else in the organization, and so you know what to expect. Prospects will often invite you to begin the paperwork process while still early in the negotiations so that they can meet their timelines.

 

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