Slack first launched in early 2014. They did not have a VP of sales until it hired Robert Frati in May 2016. At that point, they were already valued at $3.8 billion and had 930,000 paid customers.
But Slack is not a usual startup. It is one of the fastest-growing startups of recent times.
I wish you would create a startup like that. But to do that you’ll have to raise funding and go fast.
Even if you don’t, it won’t make you or your dreams small 🙂
So, if you don’t want to create the next Slack or Uber, but are happy building a continuously growing, profitable startup focused on selling service or expertise to professionals or other businesses then this post might be for you.
In this post, I am sharing a new model of business building.
In this model, you sell in phases, and build a brand continuously, giving yourself time to enjoy your success.
With this model, you can build a sustainable business doing $100,000 or $1 million or $5 million in revenues with 25% – 30% profit margins. What revenue range, what margins depends on your experience, your attitude, what you sell and how you sell it and how fast or slow you are willing to go.
To put it into action, you work on sales growth cycles, each lasting 6 weeks and use that time to grow your sales a little higher than they were before. This is not a random sales effort but a well planned and coordinated execution where you set a measurable metric to track your sales effort like getting on calls with prospects. You can aim for 1 call a day or 10 calls a week depending on your own goals and the resources you have.
This content marketing powered sales funnel I shared earlier works well to get people on call so you can experiment with it.
Once your first sales cycle is done, you take about a week or two to onboard and serve those you sold to, during this sales cycle.
After that, you go all-in with branding for the next 6-weeks. During these 6-weeks you work on branding your business so that it speaks to our ideal customers. You work on positioning and messaging.
I recommend two books to get up to speed with positioning and messaging. For fixing your positioning read Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. It is written from the perspective of product businesses but can be adapted to services. StoryBrand by Donald Miller is a great help to work on your messaging.
Once you have taken care of positioning and messaging, go all-in on creating useful strategic content to grow your brand – content that you publish with a specific outcome in mind. Publish blog posts, videos, host webinars and distribute via email, Messaging Groups, and paid ads. While doing this, keep serving your new customers you gained through the 6-week sales cycle, some of them (who did not buy) may buy during this period.
After this is done, spend the next 1-2 week planning and getting ready for your next sales cycle (building prospects lists, writing outreach emails, recording outreach videos and automating parts of the process) and also to review and update your branding plan based on what worked during your first 6-weeks branding cycle.
Going forward, keep running 6-week continuous branding cycles and alternate sales cycle.
With each branding cycle, your sales efforts will become easier because the trust for your brand will increase.
I recommend alternate sales cycles because once you’ve made a sale it makes sense to keep that customer with you. And, customer longevity depends on how well you onboard and serve them. So 7-8 weeks you get between each cycle, you use them to onboard and serve your new and existing customers and also to plan the assault for the next round of sales.