In the startup world, there is a significant misperception that if you find Product/Market Fit, you are now ready to hit the accelerator and scale the business. While this may be true for many consumer focused businesses, this does not work for B2B startups. B2B founders who try turning up the spend on sales and marketing are surprised to find that they are not getting the results that they expected, and are burning through a lot of cash.
There is a key missing step, and that is the search to find a sales motion that is repeatable and scalable. This stage often turns out to be just as hard as finding product/market fit, and is unpredictable in how long it will take. Many startups fail at this key stage because entrepreneurs and investors like to skip this step, and try scaling sales before there is a clearly repeatable sales motion. To help solve this problem, I have developed a 9 step startup roadmap, which clearly lays out the steps.
The important lessons:
- You cannot skip steps, and any attempt to do so will lead to a lot of wasted time and cash
- Your focus needs to change at each stage.
- Standard sales people require a playbook for a repeatable sales process and are not good at defining that playbook. Hiring them before that playbook exists will not work, and will defocus the company and burn cash.
- Finding a repeatable growth process is a job that should be tackled by the founders, possibly assisted by a Pathfinder/Trailblazer sales rep that is specialized type of sales person who can help figure out a repeatable sales process
- The Valuation of your startup will increase as you move through each step, as you are de-risking the key issues that lead to success or failure
- It is unpredictable how long it will take to get through steps 1 through 8
- Cash burn should be minimized while working through steps 1 through 8 as the business is not ready to hit the accelerator pedal and start scaling. However once you are through these steps, the mentality needs to change, and you should invest aggressively in scaling your growth machine.
The Most Common Mistakes:
- Building product before meeting enough buyers to validate the hypothesis
- Hiring salespeople before founders have proven they can sell the product
- Scaling sales before growth process is repeatable
- Hitting the accelerator pedal before solving churn problem
- Scaling sales when SaaS profitability is not there. (SaaS profitability: measured by LTV:CAC and Months to recover CAC.)
Founder Led Selling - Pete Kazanjy
to Sales (optional)
Scalable Sales Model
Repeatable, Scalable & Profitable Growth - David Skok
Finding a Repeatable Growth Process (Part 1)
Finding a Repeatable Growth Process (Part 2)
Choosing a Go-to-Market Model
Making your Growth process Scalable and Profitable
Fixing Broken Funnels
The Product is your Salesperson - Shorten your Time to Wow!
Templates for Documenting your own Buyer’s Journey
If you are interested in documenting your own Buyer’s Journey and using ideas from “Fixing Broken Funnels” above, documenting Friction, Buyer’s Concerns, and Motivations at each step, you might find the following Google Sheets template helpful. On the first tab is a very generic buyer’s journey. On the second tab, you will see an illustration of how this changes for a real world situation, in this case a developer starts the buyer’s journey, but the actual purchase decision happens when the project that they are developing reaches the point where it is about to go into production, and the Ops or DevOps persona gets involved. So you see two buyer personae, and how they experience your sales and marketing process.
To use these templates, I recommend that you start by documenting your current marketing and sales process steps that you expect a buyer to go through. Then step back and take the buyer’s point of view and document their process, and think about how they are going to react as they reach each of your steps.