A kick-butt sales strategy will make or break your startup. From a perfect pitch to identifying opportunities in niche markets, and articulating your value proposition, the following tips will ensure that you are set up for success when it comes to sales.
There is always a new flavor-of-the-week sales strategy while many are rooted in psychology and explain the motivation behind a customer’s decision to make a purchase.
The following five proven techniques to jumpstart your sales and ensure you hit the ground running come from Nick Bravante of GSD Venture Studios. The firm, based in Silicon Valley travels the world to locate and cultivate promising startups typically unable to access U.S. opportunity due to political, social, and cultural dynamics.
- Start off with what problem you solve (and make sure you are solving one in the first place)
All too often, entrepreneurs devise a solution to a non-existent problem. The most important question an entrepreneur must ask themselves is what problem do I solve? The unfortunate truth is that people don’t care what you do- they care about how you can help them. Many salespeople and entrepreneurs ignore what they’re really selling- solutions to problems.
A powerful pitch (and product) needs clearly articulate how you will make a customer’s life easier. At the beginning of a sales conversation, the prospective customer usually has little understanding of the benefits of your product. The last thing you want to do is immediately treat your product or service like a commodity, rather than a valuable solution to a real business need they have. Making them understand how your product will make their life easier is half the battle.
- Connect the dots for your customer
People buy results, not products or services. Now that your prospective customer understands the problem and your solution, now is the time to explain what exactly they will receive and how. If your product is a marketing SaaS, you’ll need to walk your customer through the platform, explain the type of time investment they should expect to make in managing it moving forward and the types of ongoing support they’ll have access to.
This sales strategy is particularly relevant if you’re selling a product or service that comes with an upfront fee, requires a complex rollout, time-intensive integrations, or ongoing collaboration with your customers after closing the deal. Your prospect needs to know exactly what they’re going to get as far as deliverables, when those milestones will be met, and the downstream impact they’re expected to have on their business.
- Get started by by specializing in a few, small markets
Dramatically increase the effectiveness of your sales strategy by going after specific niche markets. If you can identify common pain points here you’ll be able to easily generate sales. Rather than reaching out to businesses of all different sizes, industries, and offerings, focus in on a narrow grouping of companies to pitch.
Many entrepreneurs worry that choosing a small niche could limit their options. While selecting the right niche would be a long-term decision, selecting the wrong one is just a learning experience, not a long-term loss. Choosing a small niche, in the beginning, allows you to specialize, and achieve results faster.
- Be a yes person
During sales conversations, new challenges and unique demands from your prospects are inevitable. Since each company you work with will operate differently (no matter how narrow your niche), you’re bound to come across uncharted customer requests. Remove any form of the word “no” from your vocabulary, as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford it!
Maintain the perception as a problem-solver. Instead of disagreeing with or flat out turning down a request from your prospect, use a response like, “I’d love to make that happen for you, let me see what I can do” Even if that means coming back to the negotiation table with a minimum order quantity or project spend that’ll justify the out-of-the-box solution, you’ll keep the deal alive. Where there is a will there is a way, you just need to figure out how to make it happen. After all, this is what being an entrepreneur is all about! Be flexible in your sales strategy and adapt in the face of new challenges on the go.
- Optimize your sales pitch
Capturing the attention of your customer and keeping the conversation moving along smoothly is paramount to the success of your pitch. Spend too much time talking about your company, the benefits of your solution, the clients you’ve worked with, why your prospect should sign up today and you’ll risk ruining the relationship straight out of the gates. Make sure, in addition to the above, you express your expertise in your given field.
To do so, lean heavily upon showing your prospect that you’ve already developed an understanding of the challenges they’re facing, as related to the area of the business your solution will help with. Do the research up-front and use your knowledge about your prospect’s business to take control of the conversation in your sales pitch by teaching, fine-tuning your message and not being afraid to share controversial views if they’re ultimately in the best interest of your potential new customer.
Go forth and sell.
As you get started with your new business, these time-tested sales strategies will help you hit the ground running.
With that being said, you can try all of the sales strategies in the world, but the best way to improve your close rate is through real experience. There’s no substitute for emailing your leads, picking up the phone, and having conversations with your prospects. Learn what you can from every interaction and develop an understanding of what motivates your customers to buy.
Written by Nick Bravante. Nick works for GSD Venture Studios and travels the globe in search of bold teams resilient enough to #GoGlobal.