Those who have read Aaron Ross’s book would be familiar with the title. For those who haven’t, generating predictable revenue is one of the most important phases for startups as they scale sales beyond the early adopters (generally your evangelist friends or colleagues who give the nod once they look at the MVP).
Once they have established a product-market fit (Mohit Aron from Cohesity describes product-market fit as the average salesperson being able to sell your product to the average customer) generating predictable revenue becomes the next big phase for the startup.
This is also one of the most testing phases in a startup’s journey. Quota carrying account executives should be able to convert opportunities to deals consistently and preferably over the conversion rate of competitors.
The sales enablement engine needs to run well to generate enough opportunities for the account executives to close. The lead generation and nurturing process need to be well defined and executed to be able to create opportunities from leads. Marketing needs to be the overarching framework feeding leads into the sales funnel.
But, Where Do You Begin?
So how do you move beyond the early adopters, scale up quickly, and then start generating predictable revenue? A number of things need to come in place.
First, you need to start with the sales and marketing framework you want to adopt. Then clearly define roles that you need to create and start hiring the right folks. Targets and commissions need to clearly defined.
Once you have the framework working for you, its time to scale up to the optimal number of folks (this is determined by the stage your product is in and your target market). You will need to document sales training material, setup the on-boarding and training process, and define reporting and feedback loops in steady-state.
When you start scaling up, you might realize one process lags the other (eg marketing may not able provide enough MQLs for SDRs to close or the SDRs are not able to provide the AEs with enough opportunities). That’s all right.
As long as you acknowledge the breaks in-process and fix them for the longer term you should be fine.
It is also important to scale up the right way. Companies that scale up too fast may also fail quickly, as in most cases they have not built the processes for a longer-term play. Many figure this out a tad too late, as they may be blinded with the initial success they are seeing. If you are building the company for the longer term, you need to get all of your firepower (Marketing, SDR, and Sales) in sync than relying on one engine to deliver.