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This article was published on June 16, 2021

How to scale your startup without a sales team

Focus on your products and prospects to grow

How to scale your startup without a sales team

Let’s get one thing out of the way early: I’m not anti-sales. I’d just say I’m more pro-customer and product. And by focusing on these two areas, I’ve been able to scale my company to more than 20,000 customers in 90 countries without a sales team. 

Before jumping on the no-sales train, though, I think it’s essential you first understand why I’ve developed this philosophy.  

Putting customers on the same side of the table

As a business owner, I’ve been blessed to purchase solutions from some incredibly technical, responsive, and supportive salespeople. They’ve been a delight to work with, and we continue to have a great relationship today. 

However, I’ve also dealt with and heard horror stories of sales reps who do anything in their power to get customers to sign on the dotted line. That can include pressure tactics, rapid follow-ups, and making promises they can’t keep — like future feature functionality or roadmap goals. These strategies backfire in the long run and cause high churn rates due to poor experience. 

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Since our organization’s mission is rooted in improving the experience of workers, teachers, and students using technology at work and school, we want first-class experiences to carry through every aspect of our work. 

While I tested various go-to-market strategies early on, we always observed the best results when we put our team and the customer on the same side of the table. Instead of a traditional sales model, we substituted quota-carrying employees for customer-focused success teams. 

By focusing on the prospect’s experience and eliminating the need for our team to meet a certain sales threshold, we removed immense pressure from the situation and transferred the focus to our client.

With this seismic shift, we provide the best possible experience without conflict between what the customer wants (a solution to a problem) and what a client-facing team traditionally wants (a sale). 

This approach has resulted in happy recurring customers time after time. So, what does this process look like in practice, and how does it work? 

Growing the no-sales way

I want to reiterate; I’m not anti-sales. Everyone needs to sell their product to make a profit so their business can grow. However, I’m a firm believer that any go-to-market approach needs to be thoughtful and customer-focused.

So, for organizations looking to grow their startup with the customer in mind, here’s my six-step roadmap:

1. Provide an effortless way to connect with prospects

More than 80% of customers do research online before making a purchase. They have a problem, they need a solution. If you’ve done a good enough job making your presence known, there’s a good chance they know you can solve it.

Provide a seamless way for the prospect to sign up to connect with your business and sample your product. 

2. Connect potential clients with a technical resource

We leverage a team of experts that have experience supporting millions of devices every day. The difference between them and a sales team? They’ve actually used the solution, helped troubleshoot, and can answer the tough questions. 

3. Deliver a personalized experience

There’s no one-size-fits-all company deployment. Ask the prospect questions. What’s your problem? How can we make it better? What’s your current approach and future needs?

Instruct your technical resource to listen, provide thoughtful feedback, and show how your offering can help deliver personalized value. 

4. Let them use the entire product

This is where many startups fall flat. They say they deliver value, but they provide a test run of a watered-down product.

You simply can’t provide a bad “free” version. I mean, how will users know your product works if they can’t use the full feature set in a real-world scenario?

5. Listen to prospect feedback

This is where you take all the time and money you saved not investing and training a sales team and put it back into your product and success team.

What are the most common points of feedback? What are the most popular features clients need? What can their old providers not deliver on?

Find the most significant pain points and solve them as fast as you can. 

6. Don’t put pressure on the customer

Finally, with a personalized experience, updated product, and a problem that still needs solving, you put the prospect on the same side of the table.

Building the level of rapport helps close deals honestly and organically. In fact, more than 50% of our trials become paid customers.

No-sales approach is a good option

Ultimately, business is built on mutual respect. And larger legacy organizations tend to forget that.

Compared to the traditional sales model, the no-sales approach has netted my organization some incredible results, including significant growth (nearly 100% YoY), incredible conversion rates, and considerable market gains from pushy legacy incumbents. 

So if you’re looking for an alternative approach to sales and want to scale, my bet would be on no-sales. 

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