You’ve ran the numbers, and the data confirms what you had anecdotally suspected for some time now – your startup isn’t growing fast enough, or at least as fast as you would like it to.
Before you can start pulling levers to fix this stagnant growth, your first order of business should be to find out why exactly this is happening. Only when you have pinpointed the problem, can you then devise possible solutions.
So, why isn’t your startup growing fast enough?
There are not enough opportunities in your sales pipeline
You have a bookings goal in mind each quarter, a goal generated in collaboration with your board of investors. Hitting this number would indicate that your growth trajectory is where you thought it should be…problem is, it doesn’t look like you’re going to hit your number.
There’s no way you’re going to hit your number if you don’t have enough opportunities in your pipeline to work with. Many startups struggle to find their ideal sales pipeline-to-quota ratio, falling back on the industry-standard 3x. Problem is, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all ratio. In fact, many startups face the twin problems of a) requiring a higher pipeline ratio in order to close deals (due to their poor conversion rates) and b) struggling to generate pipeline in the first place.
Chances are, if your growth is stagnant, you don’t have enough opportunities in your pipeline. Talk to your marketing and prospecting teams to focus more of their energies on generating pipeline.
Your conversion rates are low, suggesting a tremendous amount of wasted opportunities
Of course, it’s possible that you have enough pipeline – you’re just not converting them well enough, resulting in a ton of wasted opportunities that could’ve converted into deals, had they been worked properly enough.
This is an issue of sales process – as a startup, it’s very possible that your process hasn’t been optimized and your reps are flying by the seat of their pants, figuring it out as they go along. As a Sales VP, you need to standardize your sales process and figure out what works – the right talk tracks, the right number of touches to prospects, an efficient lead handoff process that suggests sales and marketing alignment.
Sales coaching lessons are falling on deaf ears
Startups, especially in their nascent days, will go through a tremendous amount of change. Sales VPs have to quickly adapt, and pass those new lessons onto their reps to put into practice immediately. However, all the lessons in the world won’t make a difference if you’re an ineffective teacher or sales coach.
You have to measure the success of your sales coaching – if it’s not working, you need to try something different. Look at each rep’s sales funnel, compared to the team average or the ‘ideal’ sales funnel – if the rep isn’t showing month-over-month improvement, you need to identify whether your coaching is the problem, or if the rep just isn’t a good learner (and should be replaced).
Struggling to make a dent into your competitor’s market share
As a relatively new startup, you likely have competitors. Some of them might have been entrenched in the market for some time. It’s on you to steal customers away from them by being more efficient or having a better product. Of course, fighting for market share with an established competitive presence is not an easy task.
Look at a win/loss report, sorted by lost reasons, to figure out why you’re losing. If “Competition” is cited as the most common reason, you need to talk to these lost prospects and figure out why they’re going to the competition instead. Do they have…
better features on their product?
a robust marketing budget that affords them splashier opportunities to make noise?
more competitive pricing?
a proven track record of customer success?
Whatever it is, you need to figure out why and then start working on a possible solution. For instance, if prospects are regularly citing a small product feature (one you don’t have) that is swinging the momentum toward your competitors, you might want to think about adding it.
These are just some of the main reasons why your startup might not be growing fast enough, or as fast as you’d like. Have you experienced some other reasons that have stagnated your startup growth? Share them below!