I recently had a discussion with one of my ex-colleagues who once used to work with me in my current organisation. After quitting my organisation he joined a small company in a Sr Management role. He wears multiple hats in that company, right from business development to delivery, to product management. While we were chatting, he mentioned that his company, as an organisation, does not have a proper sales function established. They have a sales team which comprises of the founder and one or two other people. But, all of them wear multiple hats and handle multiple departments.
He told me that in 2020 things had gotten really bad for him because of covid. In fact, it had been so bad that he had to take a cut in his salary.
Come 2021, things really picked up for his company. But, they still had to face the challenge of generating a strong enough pipeline.
Because I had a stint in sales coaching training, I got to meet a lot of small to medium entrepreneurs. And to my surprise, I could notice one thing common in many small to medium entrepreneurs. They didn’t have a proper sales function. However, many of them did a decent turnover even without a sales function. Most of the time the founders, or the functional experts within their organisations have managed to close deals without a proper, stable sales function for a very long time. They have actually done well for themselves, which was quite surprising! And I’m talking about the organisations which could range from a turnover of 4 crores INR to even 30 – 35 crores INR.
These organisations, without having a proper sales function were able to scale their business to that level, which, I must say is quite admirable.
However, when I spoke to them, they said that their biggest challenge was scaling up from that point. Think about it. Without even having a proper sales function, how would these organisations now scale up?
After talking to many of these founders and entrepreneurs I realised that they have one common behaviour pattern, that is (SBI) ‘Sinusoidal behaviour of ignorance’.
And that is the topic I’m going to talk about today.
This topic does not only apply to Founders of small and medium organisations, but it also applies to salespeople. We will cover the part about large organisations later, but for now, let us focus on the first part.
The first part is about the sinusoidal problem of sales growth in small to medium organisations. Now, many small to medium organisations, where there is no proper sales function or a sales process or whose sales function is still evolving, most of the time founders or the subject matter experts of that particular organisation wear multiple hats. They close deals, bring business, fulfil the business.
Now, what happens is, when they start as a founder, they start with maybe developing a product or developing a service.
And they go out in the market, hunt for clients, and they bring in business.
However, because they wear multiple hats, there is no focus on creating a proper sales function. Their focus is always distributed between sales, delivery and many other functions.
Due to this, as shown above, the Demand generation adopts a seasonal effect. Demand generation happens for the first few months and the next few months are spent on fulfilling the demand until there is once again no demands to be fulfilled, i.e no demand generation.
Because no demand generation happens, there’s no sales pipeline for the next months.
This cycle repeats itself until a solid sales function and sales team is built.
I call this the “Sinusoidal Behaviour of Ignorance”, this is a classic behaviour of small to medium business owners wherein initially maybe they don’t have enough business, so they spend time on demand generation. However, when they succeed in generating this demand, they focus on fulfilling the demand which leads to ignorance of demand generation.
Doing so, they fail to focus on demand generation and create a lack of demand.
This constant up and down of demand generation creates an impediment for the company’s growth and it becomes very difficult, almost impossible for the companies to scale up.
I mean, they must have reached that 5 crores to 35 crores INR mark, but for them to scale up beyond that is a big problem because of an inadequate sales process and a lack of focus on it.
So, if you are an entrepreneur or sales leader reading this blog, you should actually ask yourself whether you suffer from SBI “Sinusoidal Behaviour of Ignorance” and if you are, then what should be done about it.
Believe me, this is no rocket science. It’s about the basic things.
First and foremost, you need to learn how to set a sales function. It could be hiring a sales head to set up the sales process, someone who can dedicatedly focus on this and only this function, he doesn’t have any other role, but just to focus on this particular function of building a pipeline quarter on quarter, month on month.
That’s the difference between large organizations and small organizations. Large organizations have this amazing process set up within the organization, where people don’t wear multiple hats, where there are specialists for every specific function.
As a small to medium entrepreneur, you need to figure out how you could set up such a process.
Many times I have come across entrepreneurs who say that they have a cash flow problem, that if they hire a sales team, and if they don’t perform for four to six months, then they won’t be able to bring in any business, pushing themselves further into a loss.
This is a classic chicken & egg problem, which every small and medium entrepreneur will face. Remember that sales won’t happen from day one. It takes time. You need to give time to the sales team to set everything up and start going. But while they’re doing that, during that gestation period, you need to set metrics to measure their effectiveness.
And if you don’t have that cash reserve to sustain a team, then maybe you could continue with what you’re doing right now. And, maybe you could be happy with the kind of growth you’re getting because there’s no way you can get out of this loop if you continue with sinusoidal behaviour of ignorance.
So number one is this.
Now coming to how this behaviour applies to salespeople
I personally have been guilty of this particular problem where suddenly I have one large opportunity I’m working on and my entire focus and time is dedicated to that large opportunity. While I am doing that I ignore demand generation and business development for the next quarters.
In B2B sales, most of the time, you don’t work for the same quarter. In a quarter, you actually work 30% of the time for the deals in that particular quarter and 70% of times you work for the deals for the next quarter or the quarter after that. And because I’m working on that large opportunity, I’m somehow ignoring the demand generation, which I need to do for the next quarters.
This is something that a salesperson needs to work on. If a few large opportunities are consuming his time and demand generation is getting ignored, then there are two problems that he’s facing. First is, he needs to know how to manage his time. I will soon write an entire blog on time management, you can refer to it for some key points. The second problem is that the salesperson needs to know how to leverage an extended team of partners, marketing and channels, because in B2B sales, especially when you’re a part of a mid to large-sized organization, a salesperson is not solely responsible for closing a deal.
He works with a team. He’s more like a facilitator who gets everyone together and closes a deal. So maybe you need to improve your facilitation and team skills. If you’re not doing that, that means you are responsible for doing everything, which could be the reason for sinusoidal behaviour of ignorance.
I hope this blog is useful and has helped you identify this problem of demand generation due to sinusoidal ignorance behaviour.
If you liked this blog, please share it with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions, ask them in the comment box. I am always happy to help.
Thanks for reading!
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