• Peter Cooper

Start-Ups Who Neglect Sales Strategy, Slow Their Growth & Risk Failure

Updated: Sep 24, 2018

Many entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses mistakenly believe that because their "market disruptive", brilliant idea is an "obvious no brainer", that buyers will flock to their company and buy their product, service or solution. This is a key contributor to the reason so many businesses fail in their first year. They might be right about the brilliant idea, it's just that they fail to understand how to engage decision makers so that they can see this will benefit them, their company or their end customers.

start-ups are often frustrated when customers don't immediately understand their vision; selling is mostly about being a good listener

Sales is rarely viewed as a vocation with the same level of professionalism as, say, finance, accounting, IT or Operations and this creates a problem; most people do not understand that having a Sales Strategy with an execution plan is crucial to the success of every business from the start.

CEO's, partners and founders are often passionate people with the ability to excite and motivate investors and those nearest them, but articulating this to the wider customer requires a higher level of empathy, engagement and understanding of the customers' own business priorities. Great salespeople know their value lies in quickly developing genuine relationships with customers built on trust and a natural curiosity so they are always fighting for the best interests of both customer and the business they represent. In other words: the best sales people are fantastic collaborators and communicators.

How many people do you know who went to university with the intention of beginning a career in sales? Probably none. This creates a problem: sales people are abundant, but only a select few truly understand what it takes to engage a customer, take them on the journey from exciting them about an idea, collaborate with multiple teams and stakeholders to build it into a customer's plans and execute in a way that leaves both organisations with an outcome to be proud of.

Even rarer are those people who have the talent to build a Sales Strategy that takes the Founder/CEO's vision and translate it into a deliverable 'thing'. Here's six tips to make a success of that Sales Strategy:

  1. Empathy - Walk in your customers' shoes; is it still a brilliant idea? It is? Great! Test it - ask them, don't assume.

  2. People, Operations, Functions - Who will sell it? How will they sell it? How will you scale the business around the success?

  3. Forecasting and Targets - even if you employ no professional sales people, you should have tools that allow you to calculate, set and manage targets that feed the forecast; that way you can resource your business appropriately and reward the right behaviours. What gets measured, gets done.

  4. Recruit, Reward, Recognise - Put the effort into getting the right person/people on-board in the first place, reward excellence and give recognition when due. This requires the most effort and will save you a lot of time, money and energy in the long run.

  5. Pitch - You've done your homework and tested the message, now build a pitch that everyone in your company can make their own to talk about what you do. It's not a script! It's a set of markers that capture your passion and clearly set out why the company does what is does.

  6. Customer Reach - how will you access your pipeline of customers? Depending on how big this market is you'll need to consider social media, self generated customer lists, buying company information, attending industry events and peer-to-peer networking.

Being a sales focused company will increase the likelihood of success and finding someone with the experience, knowledge and talent to build a Sales Strategy puts your company on a strong footing with investors, management teams, employees and customers.

Expert Strategic Sales people are hard to come by, so when you find one, hang on and don't let go.

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