You have an amazing idea! You have researched it until you're sick of research! And you have built your first product that's customer ready! BUT, deep down are you a big scaredy cat when it comes to selling?
Does this feeling of apprehension feel familiar to you?
I recently met a co-founder with a creative background who told me that "doing sales" was “boring” and "a lot of hassle", but the bottom line is no one currently has the passion for your product like you do. Therefore, you need to get your sh!t together and get on with it.
What's stopping you?
For a variety of reasons selling can be daunting for some people, but think of the fun and positive vibes you'll receive from the feedback! Of course, you won’t win every deal, but with careful sales strategy, you should be able to increase the odds of meeting more of your type of customer.
Whatever type of product or service you’re making you need to meet your customers face to face (In Real Life as some trendsetters now call it). Even if you plan on creating a ‘marketing machine’ that pumps out leads and automates sales, early on you can’t beat meeting with customers as they will teach you so much about your product, operations, pricing, marketing and sales tactics. IRL is something you should always be doing as your business grows and your products evolve.
Your marketing planning will have identified your ideal customers. Part of that process includes finding where those people hang out.
Have some front
When you meet prospective customers, I believe that you need to be upfront and honest with your motives, but you also have to be able to provide value! If you have done your homework then their problem will match your solution, so it's in your prospect's interests to help.
Naturally, you need to find the right prospect who’s whiling to spend the time with an early stage product or company, but they do exist, you just have to be persistent. Salesforce estimates it takes 6-8 touches before a prospect becomes a lead.
Network like it's 1999!
You’re going to be busy while you build your first product. Make sure you keep some time aside to meet people at events. Be strategic in your choice of event. You need to meet prospects and potential partners who can connect you as well as investors, should you need them.
Meetup & Eventbrite often have something for everyone. In London, I use Table Crowd to meet quality people. Don’t forget about your industry’s governing bodies, university events and government initiatives. There are LinkedIn groups too, but they can be hit and miss in terms of finding networking events, but they will have lists of people. I find LinkedIn’s premium search is a great way to find the right people.
Don’t forget your existing network or friends and advisors. Specifically, ask them if
they know the kind of people you need to meet.
CRM! For the love of… Get a decent CRM that meets your needs and put EVERYONE in it that you think is useful now and LATER. KEEP ON USING IT!
"What gets measured, gets done"!!!
I generally recommend people use Pipedrive for pure sales tracking or chose Hubspot CRM when I want to be able to manage prospects, but also expand into automated marketing.
Of course, other CRM systems are available! And some of them might be free for a small number of users, however, in my experience, you get a lot less functionality than when you’re willing to pay $10/user/month than you do if you’re getting something for nothing. E.g. Hubspot CRM’s ability to track and alert to an email opens is super useful worth paying for. Yes.. there are free tools like Boomerang that integrate into Gmail or Office365, but why would you want to not have this tracked against the record in your CRM?
Create custom categories around the type of accounts that you’re saving, so you can easily cut and dice the data later by specific industry (let’s say you want to find the name of a lawyer you met a while back), or you want to be able to send different newsletters or email blasts.
Oh, KEEP ON USING IT!
Finally, Sales Strategy
Learn what works for you, repeat and systemise, but that's another blog.