You've developed a great new product or service and have invested hundreds of hours and late nights. Now comes the tough part - selling your solution. Most startup founders don't have sales teams to rely on, often resulting in challenges in the area of sales.
According to Gregg Schwartz, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the core truths about sales that startups need to understand is that the act of selling is not really about pushing products on people but more about solving a problem.
If you need help selling your solution, here are a four tips to consider:
1. Don't pitch the product, listen to your customer
Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking that their sales are going to take off because their product has a cool feature that is so much better than anything else. Here’s the simple truth: nobody cares about features.
It can be very easy in sales to want to pitch your product offering and start off by explaining your solution straight away to your prospects. Don't let this be the case. Always first ask questions to uncover their business and their needs. Focus on solving a problem and not on signing a deal. You will get more customers and referrals when you take the time to understand the pain points they have. If you can't find a problem your product solves, it's either the wrong market fit, it's not a good product or your sales pitch needs to be tweaked to focus on solving specific problems companies face. The better you listen to what they need and not what you want to sell, the better your sales relationships will be. Whatever your problem solving sales pitch might be, make sure you connect your product to the needs of your customer.
2. Know what benefits you’re selling
After talking to your target customers about the problems that they need solved, figure out how your product or service can help them specifically. It’s important to be an evangelist for your business and to know your core value proposition. In complex sales, there may actually be multiple value propositions and your business may offer solutions in different levels of the organization you’re selling to.
3. Ask for the business
Once you have uncovered a prospect’s needs and have proposed your solution, instead of tricks, just use honest, natural language and ask for the business. Professional sales people politely and professionally ask for the business. The truth here is that your dream clients want to work someone that really wants their business. They want to work with someone who is going to own the outcomes that they need. By asking for the business directly, you demonstrate that you really want your client’s business and that you are likely to be as direct in helping them achieve their goals. After asking for the business, clearly discuss what the next steps will be to move the deal forward.
4. Always continue to add value
Don't think that once a customer hands over cash for your product, the selling process is complete. All too often, sales people will contact the customer until closing the sale, and then once the deal is done, they hand off the person to a colleague or team. This is a missed opportunity.
Check in with your clients on a regular basis and look for ways to keep supporting them, listen to their evolving needs and be ready to answer questions before problems arise. You don't necessarily need to be in selling mode but touching base helps keep the communication channels open. Also, if for some reason your solution is failing to meet their expectations, you need to be receptive to feedback, as you want to improve or solve the situation before it's too late.
Do all of the above and focus on your customers’ long-term success, and you’ll be well on your way to driving long-term sales for your startup.
Schwartz, G., 2013. 4 Selling Essentials Every Startup Should Know. Accessed from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228402
Malszecki, A., 2015. The best B2B sales techniques for startups. Accessed from: https://www.marsdd.com/news-and-insights/best-b2b-sales-techniques-startups/#other-authors
Crofton, M., 2013. Four sales tips for startups. Accessed from: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/the-starting-gate/2013/11/four-sales-tips-for-startups-.html
Azarov, V., 2015. Four sales tips for startups. Accessed from:http://www.startupsalesconf.com/blog/6-expert-sales-tips-for-startups
Iannarino, A., 2012. How to Ask for the Deal. Accessed from:http://thesalesblog.com/blog/2012/04/15/how-to-ask-for-the-deal/