Answer from Glenn Donovan, Director of Sales, GaggleAMP
There is no cookie-cutter approach to selling your product. In general, if you are going in completely cold, your penetration is going to be slow. I recently saw a SaaS startup that claimed they had to send out 2,000 emails to get one deal. I think this tactic is awful, but that’s what you will get if one of your main sales strategies is spamming.
Here are a few questions and considerations that you need to think about as you develop a strategy to get meetings:
- Who are the stakeholders likely to care about your offering?
- What will these stakeholders perceive to be the valuable parts of your offering? Too often eager start-up founders and sales staff talk endlessly about their products instead of elaborating on the product’s value to a particular client. You need to put yourself in your client’s world and communicate in terms of value, avoiding the temptation to gloat about your product.
- You need to ask yourself who can refer you to a client. Access that person’s network to get to them, especially if you are selling directly to CEOs. Don't hesitate to talk to someone who's even tangentially related to what your business does. You'll be amazed at how well some sales referral conversations go and who might be able to connect you to other people in their sphere.
- Use the magic phrase, "Can you help me?", especially with gatekeepers. Often, I’ll start off a cold call this way: "I'm wondering if you could help me figure out how to start a dialog with your company about X?"
This approach assumes that such conversations are normal -- which they are. Secondly, it leans on the basic human instinct that people enjoy helping one another -- especially in the start-up community. People you network with will tell you who to talk to and what’s going on in a certain space.
Lastly, there is nothing like perspiration and effort. Make the calls. Do the emails. Reach out on LinkedIn and Twitter. Work your network for referrals. Do research on the companies that you are calling on so you know what's going on with them.
A little hint for you: this is why sales people exist. Sales isn't just something you can figure out how to do by reading a blog post. It takes real skill and practice to do this well. Consider using a professional to do sales for you -- you will get better results.
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- Is ‘Fake it till you make it’ a good motto for start-ups?