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In our latest Giants Weekly session, we were joined by Ignition Lane partner Nikki Brown to solve the universal sales problem; growing a strong customer base with the lowest cost possible. To guide us through sales as a science, Nikki steps us through what all great sales teams do, how to use data to increase conversions and what you need in your sales tech stack to supercharge your process.

Watch Nikki’s presentation in full below, or read on for our key takeaways.

Watch Nicole's presentation in full here.

What all great sales teams do

They know their customers better than they know themselves, it’s all about customer obsession. But what else do they have in common?

  • They identify and focus on the highest quality customer: These customers are believers, their pain points are solved by the value proposition of your business
  • They make it really easy for customers to buy their product: Sell to customers in the right channels for them. The customer can’t always tell you what channels these are, you need to find out
  • They understand that sales doesn’t stop at the first signature or checkout: Customer success/satisfaction is not a separate team to the sales team. It is a core part of the sales team. Retaining customers is cheaper than acquiring them
  • They stay close to their core customer always: Track the data of the core customer to never lose focus

To emulate a great sales machine, Nikki recommends asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Who are my customers where product/market fit is strongest?
  2. How and where do they buy?
  3. What will keep them as a customer long term?

Follow customer breadcrumbs

The right data drives sales repeatability but how do you follow the right breadcrumbs in a jungle of information? Here are some starting points:

  • Pinpoint which data will act as your sherpa and which will act as your canary: Identify critical customer metrics, to track opportunities (sherpa) and risks (canaries)
  • Product and customer insight data is just as powerful as your sales data: Might be even more powerful than sales data. Allows you to profile customer segments with laser accuracy
  • Organise your data to answer key questions that help you identify sales patterns: Formulate questions/hypotheses, then use the data to verify/falsify
  • Automate wherever you find strong patterns: If there are strong patterns in data, this provides an opportunity to automate. Automation leads to scale

The trail of breadcrumbs becomes easier to follow if you have clear answers to the following questions:

  1. What key customer metrics and data will be my canary and sherpa?
  2. What questions do I need to answer to pinpoint customer patterns?
  3. What do I know to be predictable that I can automate?

Goldilocks your tech stack

There are 8,000 marketing-tech tools you can choose from - yet a decade ago Nikki only had to choose from around a 100. It’s critical you don’t drown in tech and pick the right stack for you. Here are some principles to keep in mind:

  • There are no sales without CRM: Nikki recommends Pipedrive software for early-stage startups because of all it’s integrations. Once you start to scale (3 or more big enterprise clients) Salesforce can be a good option
  • Product and Customer insights tools are your best friend: Learn about your customers by understanding how they engage with the product
  • Automation should make your life easier, not harder
  • Invest in systems that will grow at the right pace: Change systems at the right time for the stage of growth your business is in

The key to finding the right tech stack, is having a clear idea of what you need. Ask yourself:

  1. How do I organise and collect data that helps me understand my customers quickly and in depth?
  2. What tools will I need today to make sales & customer decisions quickly?
  3. What are the indicators it’s time for me to add more sales tech?

Sales don't have to be abstract and vague. As Nikki shows us, applying a science-like methodology will help save you time and cut through to the right customers. Here are five resources that Nikki recommends:

  • The SaaStr blog (and founder Jason Lemkin's blog)
  • Salesforce's Quotable
  • Cerebral Selling
  • Sales section of G2's learning hub
  • The original champion of Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross (which is also a great book)
  • Nikki’s newsletter - Ignition Lane Weekly Wrap!
  • Register for more Giants Weekly events here