(This is the first in a three-part restructuring and build-out of the prior post. See note  for details.)
The number one question go-to-market question in any enterprise software startup is: “do you have a repeatable sales process?” or, in more contemporary Silicon Valley patois, “do you have a repeatable sales motion?”
It’s one of the key milestones in startup evolution, which proceed roughly like:
- Do you have a concept?
- Do you have a working product?
- Do you have any customer traction (e.g., $1M in ARR)?
- Have you established product-market fit?
- Do you have a repeatable sales process?
Now, when pressed to define “repeatable sales process,” I suspect many of those asking might reply along the same lines as the US Supreme Court in defining pornography:
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced… but I know it when I see it …”
That is, in my estimation, a lot of people throw the term around without defining it, so in the Kelloggian spirit of rigor, I thought I’d offer my definition:
A repeatable sales process means you have six things:
- Standard hiring profile
- Standard onboarding program
- Standard support ratios
- Standard patch
- Standard kit
- Standard sales methodology
All of which contribute to delivering a desirable, standard result. Let’s take a deeper look at each:
- You hire salesreps with a standard hiring profile, including items such as years of experience, prior target employers or spaces, requisite skills, and personality assessments (e.g., DiSC, Hogan, CCAT).
- You give them a standard onboarding program, typically built by a dedicated director of sales productivity, using industry best practices, one to three weeks in length, and accompanied by ongoing clinics.
- You have standard support ratios (e.g., each rep gets 1/2 of a sales consultant, 1/3 of an SDR, and 1/6 of a sales manager). As you grow, your sales model should also use ratios to staff more indirect forms of support such as alliances, salesops, and sales productivity.
- You have a standard patch (territory), and a method for creating one, where the rep can be successful. This is typically a quantitative exercise done by salesops and ideally is accompanied by a patch-warming program  such that new reps don’t inherit cold patches.
- You have standard kit including tools such as collateral, presentations, demos, templates. I strongly prefer fewer, better deliverables that reps actually know how to use to the more common deep piles of tools that make marketing feel productive, but that are misunderstood by sales and ineffective.
- You have a standard sales methodology that includes how you define and execute the sales process. These include programs ranging from the boutique (e.g., Selling through Curiosity) to the mainstream (e.g., Force Management) to the classic (e.g., Customer-Centric Selling) and many more. The purpose of these programs is two-fold: to standardize language and process across the organization and to remind sales — in a technology feature-driven world — that customers buy products as solutions to problems, i.e., they buy 1/4″ holes, not 1/4″ bits.
And, most important, you can demonstrate that all of the above is delivering some desirable standard result, which will be the topic of the next post.
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 I have a bad habit, which I’ve been slowly overcoming, to accidently put real meat on one topic into an aside of a post on a different one. My favorite example: it took me ~15 years to create a post on my marketing credo (marketing exists to make sales easier) despite mentioning it in passing in numerous posts. After reading the prior post, I realized that I’d buried the definition of a repeatable sales model and the tests for having one into a post that was really about applying CMMI to the sales model. Ergo, as my penance, as a service to future readers, and to help my SEO, I am decomposing that post into three parts and elaborating on it during the restructuring process.
 I think of patch-warming as field marketing for fallow patches. Much as field marketing works to help existing reps in colder patches, why can’t we apply the same concepts to patches that will soon be occupied? This is an important, yet often completely overlooked, aspect of reducing rep ramping time.