Number one (or one of the first, basically) question your startup will get from a potential investor is about how many customers you already have. And if you have none, you’d better be ready to tell more about your sales strategy and timeline to acquire quality leads.
We are going to assume you are not a kind of startup that believes your product is going to sell itself, because “it’s just that good”. Even if it’s good, it won’t do magic for you. It’s not like Uber didn’t have to have their first sales pitch. Or Dropbox. Or Airbnb.
You have to start somewhere and creating a strong, impactful pitch deck is an okay first step. If you already have one but are not sure, whether it’s going to be killer, see our tips on amping up presentations.
Make a list of your ideal customers.
Who is your perfect buyer persona? Once you have this figured out, go online or search your contact list. Find companies that suit your solution the most. The key is to not be afraid to go big. List out the leaders, companies you wish to have in your portfolio, so that later potential clients will want to be among those huge names. Reach for the top, you know well it’s better to try and fail rather than ponder over the missed opportunities.
And if you know they are not interested at that moment, ask, when they would be ready. Have a set date. Doesn’t matter if it’s in 2 months or 2 years. It just gives you more time to improve your product.
Become friends with Google Search and social media.
This refers to the previous point. There are companies you haven’t heard of that might be relevant on the market you’re trying to reach. With some interesting finds you can expand your list of desired customers by looking into their websites. They usually include a variety of logos of companies your prospect worked with. Why not give those a shot? Worst case scenario, they say no.
When it comes to social media, don’t underestimate Linkedin. We’re not talking about setting up a nice looking company page. Improve your own profile. Make use of social selling, the channel’s search engine, and your contacts. It’s extremely simple to reach out to quality leads, if only you take the time to evaluate the potential in them.
Not a salesperson type? Hire someone better.
You may not be a sales professional, but it doesn’t mean you can neglect the sales process. A common mistake among founders is thinking they can do anything. Problem is, there can always be someone better. If you are an incredible salesperson, hire IT, finance, and marketing professionals. If you’re great at product development, hire a salesperson that will help you boost the cash flow. Identify your business needs and develop a job offer around it. Look for someone, who already has experience. You can’t afford to have a bad salesperson at this stage. If possible, find more than one person. This will create a sort of competition between the people and increase their performance.
Create an A to Z sales strategy and execute.
It’s nice that you’re taking the time and creating a complete sales strategy. Now execute. Reach out to your potential customers, stay active and look for opportunities everywhere you go. It’s crucial that you stay in the entrepreneurial mindset when you’re still developing a startup. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your strategy along the way. Track your progress and keep improving, when you see something is not working well. If you’re not the only person responsible for sales, make sure you organize weekly meetings to talk through the goals and objectives for the upcoming week. At the same time keep the meetings short. The more minutes you spend on them, the less you can devote to your leads.
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Always ask for referrals.
Referrals are an incredible asset that allows your business to thrive. Social proof is a must, if you want to maintain your good reputation. Most prospects will be more eager to establish partnership with companies, who already have customers’ opinions, especially if they’re from a similar industry.
Once you have caught your lead and make your sales, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral. Before you do it, though, please remember a few things. Asking for referrals is not cold calling/mailing. No one will refer you, if you haven’t given any value beforehand. Imagine yourself in your customer’s situation, what would you do? Always make the request personal, confirm that the customer is valuable and assure them, giving a referral won’t take much of their time. If you can, create and offer a short template to make it easier for them.
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Stay in touch after you make your sale.
The worst thing you can do to your company after making successful sales? Ditch them. Say you got some expensive electronic equipment from a shop. You had a great sales experience and the moment you turned on your device at home, it broke. And even though you want to reach out to the shop again, to get some help, the line is blocked. Would you feel okay with that? Same goes with your sales. Never let go of the customer. After their purchase, make sure to send a few emails or make a few calls throughout the next couple of months to ensure the quality of the product or service. Customers like to know they’re not left alone and will be much more likely to refer your company to their friends.
Deliver the quality you claim to have.
There’s a common assumption that good products don’t need advertising and all the junk gets the most commercial time on TV, radio, or internet. Well, a little bit of advertising doesn’t hurt, as long as it shows the true quality of your product or service. You don’t get expensive things just so they look good on the shelf (ror do you?). You choose one thing over the other, because of the parameters and the value it gives you.
As a salesperson you must never lie about the characteristics of your solutions. Don’t ever promise something it won’t do, because the truth will simply spill sooner than later. And a bad reputation cannot be easily recovered. If you know you don’t have a certain feature, be open about it and offer another solution, a customer will appreciate your honesty.
There are, of course, so many other pieces of advice on making sales a good experience for both sides. What rules do you stand by when it comes to sales?
Here are 4 bonus tips to make sure you (or your team member) is a good salesperson:
- Automate whatever you can.
The more time you take at the beginning, the more you can automate. Prepare email templates that you can easily send, make phone call scripts, so that you don’t forget to say everything you need. Use tools to automate the sales process. There are many of them on the market, so you’ll surely find a solution that suits you best. See the tips on sales automation by Hubspot.
- Live well with other departments.
Your company departments don’t compete with each other. That’s a fact. Just like football players work together on reaching the goal together (such as Super Bowl championship), your company needs to develop a common strategy and maintain a satisfying level of communication. It’s so much easier when employees talk about their needs, trust us.
- Focus on the client’s needs.
The times, where you would only advertise a product, are long gone. Each time a client looks at an opportunity, they will ask “what do I get from it?”. Make it your core statement and build your strategy around the client’s needs. What value does your solution bring to people’s lives? To make the job easier, create buyer personas. Here’s how SocialBakers would do it.
- Attend industry events and meetups.
If you’re attending events to gain some knowledge, that’s cool. This should not be your only goal, though. Set a target amount of contacts you need to reach at a certain event and make some sales. Don’t waste your time, even if it means you’ll come home exhausted. By the end of each year make a list of events your potential customers will attend and join them.
If you would like to know more on sales, let us know and we’ll help you out.
And if you want to have an on-hand experience with us, apply for Techseed as a startup. All you need to do is fill our a short form here. Good luck!