It’s hard being a startup. You’ve just embarked on a crazy as rails business idea which may or may not succeed depending on a variety of factors. Do the people like your new product? Are they ready for this new and jazzy service which can potentially revolutionize lives in an instant? Questions such as these keep entrepreneurs awake at night and burning the midnight oil and for good reason too. This is because the success of these ideas and their execution can mean all the difference between make and break.
One thing is for sure. Startups need to do great on lead generation and sales. There’s no two ways about it. And it’s an issue founders of a new product or service don’t devote energies on, seeing as how their own enthusiasm for their baby lets them get carried away to issues, such as customer needs and requirements.
But all is not lost. There are ways to sell your product, solution or service to the market in a way that just gets the customers. Startups can make their products or services marketable that truly speak to consumers, the natural, effortless and authentic way. The case of misplaced idealism founders are usually associated with can be sidestepped. Just because they have a zealous faith in their idea doesn’t necessarily make them a sales guru (exceptions such as Steve Jobs exist but even he faced the same issue with the Apple Lisa).
That being said, every startup entrepreneur can get superior lead generation and sales if they keep in mind the following things:
Find the Right Audience (And Companies) That Seem Interested In What You Have To Offer
Startups, in a bid to get far ahead of themselves, tend to overdo a simple thing; they sell their solutions to everyone, irrespective of whether they are the perfect fit for your product / services or not. Not only this is a waste of time and money, it’s a waste of efforts which could’ve been focused on cultivating the right customers and companies. It is important for startups to do their market research, see which companies align perfectly with your messaging, marketing and product and services.
It is also important to make your product / service fit for a limited trial run. Giving people a chance to try out the next big thing your startup came up with is a surefire way to build up authenticity and credibility in this cutthroat business climate. Time matters. Plus, your leads come in easily as they have something to try out and talk about.
Categorize Your Leads
So, you’ve got a sizeable number of leads? Good. Because now there’s a need to have a solid mechanism in place – a system to track and rank those leads in terms of popularity and interest.
Every company worth its name does this. And it accomplishes it by using a Customer Relation Management System (CRM) which tracks and updates leads and updates information about them over time. It’s a system which can serve as a centralized resource for collecting all information and data pertaining to a prospect – conversations, evaluations, taking-action, follow-ups and more. It’s an efficient means to track the sales process.
The issue with CRMs is they are expensive, something a startup can’t afford in the initial stages. But hope isn’t lost as lead tracking and monitoring can be done without investing a pretty penny. A spreadsheet to keep track of leads and classifying them easily into high priority to normal priority items is a good idea. You can also use the spreadsheet to detail every contact and conversation you’ve had with them, thus beginning a process of nurturing the prospect over a period of time.
The important thing to note is even though you might not be immediately getting a sale from the prospect, building a long-term relationship with a lead can result in more leads coming your way. It’s important to follow up with the prospective buyers at regular intervals in time. Keeping a note of their queries, their answers and other assorted information is a good way to figure out what people demand of your product or service.
People Hate Sales Pitch: Period!
Ask any man or woman on the street salespersons get all the hate in the world and for good reason. Salespeople are more concerned with selling the products or services irrespective of whether people really need them. Hence the bad rep that is directed their way. This is something most startups and their founders think is abhorrent.
So, if a sales pitch is out of the picture, how can you convince the customer to buy the new product or service you’re offering? Here’s how:
Identify the needs of the customer
Build relationships with the customer which extend beyond the ‘buy it and forget it’ mentality
Align your startup’s goals and wares with those of the customer and their needs (Be customer-centric)
Demonstrate value which comes when people choose your product over the competitors.
Have a conversation, not a droning on and on sales pitch.
Connect With Customers
It used to be that companies made a product and people had little choice but to buy it because there were no alternatives out there. But now, in the age of social media and mobile, consumer perception has undergone a massive change, making the businesses of yesteryears to be receptive of what people demand from them.
Simply put, this is the age where companies can reap more rewards if they take a collaborative approach to sales – listening to customers, incorporating their suggestions and feedback into your products and services. Iterating and perfecting your product all the way so people get their money’s worth and then some more.
Startups need to rely more on what consumers want. Connecting with them straightaway guarantees a ready market for your products/ services/ solutions. And besides, startups are not in it solely for the money. They have their credibility, their reputation and their business to protect. This is how companies can ensure their future success when their product takes off. Consumer goodwill is now playing a huge part in making or breaking startups, thanks to social media technologies and trends.
For every startup that succeeds, there are 50 more that have not taken off. In this climate, it is important to have a good business plan for your startup so the probability of going the way of the dodo is minimized.