top of page

THE OPERATING
TABLE

I break Startups down into their component parts and show you how to build for success.  


sales strategy

 

When you're thinking about how to grow your business, do you think first about Sales or about Strategy & Operations?


You'd be forgiven for thinking first about Sales, a lot of Founders I speak to do. Sales = revenue and revenue = growth, right?


Unfortunately, that's not always the case.


 

Did you know that a Chief Operating Officer can run most business functions, making them the most efficient and effective tool for any growing business with a limited budget?


An early-stage COO is, on average, responsible for about 7 different business functions.


From the anecdotal experience of my peers and me, this usually covers HR, Legal, Finance, Fundraising, Sales & Marketing, Product, and Engineering.


A COO can be responsible for such a broad range of disciplines because they're also responsible for the business's Strategy - aka the thing that ties everything together and keeps the business pointing in the right direction. (If you'd like to learn more about how a Strategy ties everything together and how you can easily write yours, check out my best-selling book How To Write Your Strategy via the link below).


How to write your Strategy



In this new series of posts, I'll break down the relationship between Strategy & Operations and each of these 7 functions and show you why a COO should be the first hire on every aspiring Founder's list.


First up: Sales

 

The Link Between Strategy & Operations And Sales


Why should you think about Strategy & Operations before you think about Sales?


Firstly, growth requires cash, not revenue (and they're very much not the same thing).


Secondly, it's absolutely not the case that all revenue is good revenue. Some revenues are definitely more desirable than others and some can even have a negative impact on your company's capacity to grow.


Confused? Intrigued? Let's break it down.


Your First Sale


Signing your first contract is an AMAZING feeling. It's a validation that people actually want the thing you've spent months, or maybe even years, building. It makes all the late nights and missed weekends worth it. It's day 1 for your growth.


But what about what happens on day 2?


On day 2, you need to actually deliver the thing that you've sold. Everything before your first sale was about securing that contract, everything after it is about living up to your customer's expectations and this is where poor planning can lead to a lot of headaches for your growing business.


Without a clear Strategy telling you which customers to target and secure, you can quickly find yourself making adjustments to your product or service to suit customer need. A few adjustments as you learn more about your market is understandable and, in fact, necessary, but that can easily turn into a complete pivot which, before you know it, leads to you building a solution that's ideal for a single customer but doesn't have a wider appeal.


In short, focus too much on the needs of one customer and you can quickly alienate everyone else.

Let's illustrate that with the example of 'Icarus', an early-stage tech startup offering project management software to small businesses. Let's imagine that they failed to develop and stick to a clear sales strategy and we'll see how that can quickly lead to a costly misstep.


Although their ideal customer is a small business, when a large enterprise client expressed interest in their product, the Leadership Team at Icarus, excited about the potential revenue, jumped at the chance.


The project management features needed by a large, complex enterprise are different to the features needed for a small team with only a few projects to manage and Icarus needed to heavily customise their software to meet the enterprise's needs.


The decision to prioritise the enterprise features to deliver this one big contract led to a loss of focus on Icarus's original audience, ultimately alienating their intended market.


Furthermore, Icarus hadn't planned for this customisation and thus lacked the resources to support the product's pivot and so lost their original audience whilst also failing to satisfy the demands of the enterprise client.


This misalignment damaged Icarus's hard-won reputation and drained their resources, making it impossible for the business to continue.



sales strategy


Let's look at the alternative - we'll call the company 'Daedalus' because, yes, I am hammering home the point with a Greek myth about flying too close to the sun...


Daedalus also specialise in project management software for small businesses.


Thanks to the work of their Fractional COO, the Leadership Team at Daedalus recognise the importance of a clear sales strategy and spent time meticulously outlining their target market, focusing on serving the unique needs of small businesses.


When approached by the same large enterprise client interested in their product, Daedalus carefully evaluated the opportunity within the framework of their strategic goals and decided to turn down the opportunity.


Despite the allure of the revenue, Daedalus remained steadfast in their commitment to their target market, and could clearly see, via the path laid out in their Strategy, that catering to the enterprise's demands would require extensive customisation that could detract from their core offering.


Instead, they continued to refine their product based on feedback from their small business customers, ensuring it remained user-friendly, cost-effective, and scalable for their intended audience.


This decision to stick to the Strategy and prioritise a clear target market over short-term gains allowed Daedalus to maintain focus, build a loyal customer base, and establish themselves as a trusted provider of project management solutions for small businesses.


If you'd like to talk more about how a focus on Strategy & Operations can help your business grow, feel free to book a free Discovery Call via the link below.








Comments


Subscribe to get this content straight to your inbox.

Thanks for subscribing! I'll see you in the emails.

Enjoying the articles? Try my eBooks.

Want to learn the fundamental foundations of Startup design? My guides will teach you everything you need to know to build a successful business from scratch. 

How to work with me.

Business Coaching

Business Coaching

Space to reflect and problem-solve.

 

Buy a single session to kick-start a new plan or buy a package of sessions to work on longer-term growth. 

Strategy Consultant

Consulting

Hands-on, tactical, practical support.

Solutions for your biggest strategic and operational problems, tailored to your project and budget needs.

Get in touch

Love to chat?

Hate to chat?

Follow me.

  • LinkedIn
bottom of page