One of the most significant challenges faced by start-up founders is going from product development to sales. Seldom do products sell by themselves; the euphoria of having created a product can fast evaporate unless the founders develop a sustainable, repeatable sales process.
Research conducted by HBR reveals that, fifty percent of the participants from high-performing organisations had sales processes that were closely monitored, strictly enforced or automated.
The founders have to quickly get accustomed to selling the product through a set of repeatable steps — of taking a prospect from the stage of awareness to a closed sale (AIDA).
The founders need to be the initial sales team
If you can’t sell your product, it ishighly improbable that someone else can. Finding the right customers that are strategically aligned with the founders’ vision and value systems is essential.
Sales in early markets are about finding customers with the right mindset; Customers who have the resilience to work with a new product and a young company. These customers are a critical part of shaping the product development and the go-to-market strategy.
The insights gained from acquiring the few early customers provides you with the insights needed to enable the sales team.
Hire your sales team with care
The term “sales” is often misconstrued as convincing someone to buy a product or service they may or may not need. There is also a misconception among the salespeople that a salesperson is expected to be a glib speaker.
An effective sales executive must know how to navigate the prospect’s organisation and get in front of the right person. He need not hard sell, but he needs to understand the dynamics of the prospect organisation, know the budget and find an internal champion from the client organisation.
Sales is probably the most critical part of the success of your business. Market intelligence from customer feedback, and sales objections are crucial for building the product further in terms of design, features, and releases.
Sales enablement critical next step
It is the responsibility of the start-up founders to enable and facilitate the sales team. The sales pitch needs to come from the founders and be backed with product knowledge.
Positioning and collaterals – ensuring that the product being sold and the information being disseminated by the sales team is consistent.
Creating social proof – to showcase the product fit and benefits accrued by the early customers.
A good sales process is not easy to create, and it needs to be revised and altered often. It should reflect the state of the market, customers’ changing needs, and your team’s skills. The sales process should be set up such that it is enjoyable, effective, repeatable and trackable.
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