- Vinay Nair
Your ability to sell makes you a successful startup
What is the general reaction that you get when you tell people that you are working in a startup? Well, there are times when they are super interested and supportive of the initiative, or they are worried about the longevity or success of your company. And this perception is not wholly misplaced. We have over the years seen many startups crop up, only to fail in a few months or mere years.
There are several common reasons as to why startups fail so often, and primary amongst them is a failure to connect properly with the necessary customer base. A non-functional sales strategy is at the root of most of these startups not seeing the success they originally envisioned and that leads to several related problems like lack of market interest, exhausting capital and premature scaling.
But we have to ground ourselves in the hypercompetitive world of today. While focussing on improving your product or service is paramount to the success of the company, selling it well and to the right people also makes all the difference in the world.
15% of the Fortune 500 CEOs started in sales, and that not only helped their vision of the future of the product, but also made them realists, adept at figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Selling your service is often viewed as something below your paygrade. Innovators tend to delegate this task to sales executives only. It is overlooked that selling is an everyday process. If you as a stakeholder in the company cannot sell it with faith, then you cannot expect other people to do so as well.
How to sell your offerings?
Know your company: This one is pretty imperative. Know the ins and outs of your company like the back of your palms. Don't ignore the numbers. Make sure you can describe the service you provide to a five year old as well as an industry expert.
Figure out who your customer base is: Conduct extensive market research and understand who your product suits best. Capitalize on ensuring meaningful conversation and interaction with that demographic first and take their feedback extremely seriously.
Know what your tools are: Study the various avenues you can use to sell your product or service. Nowadays social media marketing can make such a huge difference in all your plans. Social media content production is key to deciding the future of your firm. Use it safely and diligently and don't blindly follow trends.
Analyse what kind of content will be good for your brand and capitalize on that. Look into joining and coordinating with online groups and societies with similar interests as that can help you improve your networks.
Focus on value: You must ensure that you know how your product or service can benefit your customer. They don't care about you or your company unless you can offer them many solutions wrapped in one, in turn making some aspects of their life easier.
Think of it as how we did not really know about using the various online communication platforms, until the coronavirus pandemic hit us, and we needed them to carry on with our lives.
Follow up: It is well known that following up is a very important part of successful marketing and often the only thing that results in positive conversion. Industry experts say that 80% of sales require 5 hours of rigorous follow up.
So be sure to keep in touch with them after the initial call.
Share both positive and negative aspects: Sharing the pros and cons can make you sound more genuine and make you seem like you are really interested in serving the customer best. Say what the shortcomings of your product are but also emphasise on its USP,on the various benefits and features. Persuade, don’t manipulate.
Innovate keeping sales and marketing in mind: While you have to ensure quality in your product service, you also have to focus on interface, accessibility and how sellable it will be in the future.
Make sure to remove unnecessary complications and make it so that there are certain features which readily attracts potential customers. The key is to balance how to please your customers while ensuring high quality solid products.
Develop a plan early on: Set small achievable goals and set a sales plans very early on in the whole developmental process. Make sure it is sustainable and future proof and ensure that you are not letting your initial idealism ruin the foundations of a proper doable plan of action.
It is never too early to start thinking about selling. Start with a simple process map to help organize and define how this looks for your business.
Being able to sell has many benefits.
Your tenacity will increase: Sales is mostly customer relations and a game of numbers. Your resilience is tested often and you have to keep at it and go through the cycles again and again in order to finally succeed.
You may not succeed at your first try but it will be yet another way to figure out and zero in on the best possible way to get to your customers.
You will become a team player: You will not be able to sell your product by yourself. You will find yourself in coordination with a trusted team of individuals who are well versed in working with the various demographics.
Being better at sales betters your network: Sales by default makes you interact with a host of people, across ages and cultures. This will no doubt improve not only your networking skills but also you network itself. You never know which connection ends up being fruitful and which ones end up being potential investors.
So what it comes to do is this.
Have a decent enough product, a good team to back you up and a clear vision as to what you want for and from your company, and the rest all depends on how well you are able to market your product or service.
Selling it efficiently and selling it well is probably the most important factor in changing the fortunes of your company. Don’t look down on it, it’s not just a monotonous exercise in trying to convince other to look at your product the same way you do, it's building connections to further improve your product and serve your customers the best you can.