In my experience, one of the main the reasons why some startups succeed, while others with similar products/services dwindle and die, is the quality of the sales and marketing.
As a startup founder, you may not be well versed in sales. And yet we can all agree that making sales is a non-negotiable variable in your survival equation; especially when you’re just starting out your business.
The startup space pushes entrepreneurs to wear many different hats at once (product development, operations and sales etc). However, some startup founders tend to focus on other things to the detriment of sales, or simply lack the experience to craft a robust sales strategy.
Before listing out the strategies, it is important to understand the following:
1.Yes, there are basic rules. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for sales success, so develop your own
2. Before communicating with a prospect, you need to have a clear objective as to what you want to achieve from the call or email
3. Sales & new business development is not an inherent gift; you can learn and hone your sales skill
With the understanding of the above, here are some basic strategies you can use to boost sales:
Read your prospects better
As a startup founder, you cannot afford to be chasing shadows and need to quickly learn how to read your prospects better to understand:
- If they need your products or services
- Secondly, to try to gauge if they just don’t know how to tell you “no”
By quickly gauging these two things, you’re on your way to managing resources (time, money, and effort) better. You can then prioritise prospects in order of their proximity in the sales cycle. Buying signals are the tell-tale sign that someone is genuinely interested in your product, the kind of questions they’d ask would be around pricing, logistics, guarantees, packages, etc.
Talk pain points, not features
It’s so easy to get carried away and start listing all the wonderful features your product has, but the reality is that most prospects don’t care about features till it translates to taking their pains away. Imagine if the prospect is always asking themselves:
“So what? What does this mean for me?”
To understand whats in it for the prospect, you’ll need to ask smart, penetrating questions, while genuinely listening to the response.
When the prospect mentions a pain point and you know your service can help, it’s easy to interject and jump in. But, wait, just let the prospect talk, you need to seek out opportune moments to tie a feature to specific pain points. This way, you get them to pay more attention to your product. This also helps you prepare a bespoke pitch and close specifically to the prospect. But you can only do this once you understand the true nature of the prospect’s needs.
Selling is a process and sometimes, it takes time. In certain instances, you’ll send correspondence and get instant replies, in other cases the prospect simply won’t respond. What do you do in such scenarios? It’s simple, follow-up with the prospects. If the communication was via email, reply to your original mail. It forces the prospect – if they haven’t blocked you or moved you to spam – to reread the first email or even read it for the first time and helps you ask about the content.
The response – whether good or bad – will help you know what the next course of action is. If you don’t get a response at all after the second follow-up, wait some days and send a third correspondence. This time, you’re not only inquiring about your initial mail, you’re also asking if they need you to stop contacting them.
Follow-up is as important as the initial pitch, don’t think that once the pitch is over the prospect will be all consumed by the proposition. The prospect will not spend the rest of the day thinking about you, and he or she will not be considering the proposal when at home with the family – so you need to make sure you’re front of mind and follow up.
Did you know:
- 92% of salespeople give up after four “no’s”, but 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”
- 80% of sales require five follow-up calls
- On average, it takes eight follow-up calls to reach a prospect
- 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call
Make communication personal
Never let your clients feel like they’re just part of an automated targeted campaign. That’s a straightway ticket to the spam box and outright negative perception booster. Make them feel like you’re paying attention to them; mention their company and their specific problems. That way, the interaction feels more real and they’re able to connect with you better.
Increased sales don’t just happen by accident, it happens with effort, determination, choosing the right sales process for you and your product/service. You’ll make mistakes and will get a lot of “no’s”. Focus on the right strategies and results. Remember “no” is good, “yes” is better and “maybe” is the worst.
About the author:
A founder of multiple startups Hader Ali is an innovation & business consultant.
Hader Ali Consultancy works with startups, SMEs, and large organisations. Specialising in business strategy, product/service development, sales & marketing.
To future-proof your business. Hader Ali Consultancy will work with your company to create an innovation portfolio by providing a framework for structured innovation. All while creating an ecosystem of ideas and a culture of innovation.