Alex Dunsdon is the co-founder of The Bakery, a bespoke accelerator connecting startups and corporates. In this article, he shares his advice to help tech startup founders optimise their sales strategy.
The UK tech scene is obsessed with funding, but what if you could keep your equity and sell to create revenue instead?
You can then get the company to do what you want as opposed to spending valuable time chasing your tail in a bid to satisfy investors.
But the question is: how do you do it?
Learn to love selling
Selling is one of life’s great skills but is somehow a dirty word – you need to change this mindset.
Very few tech founders know how to sell, they’ll launch straight in with pitch decks, facts, stats and projections which fail to answer the questions their customers have.
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You should aim to spend 90% of your time listening to customers; working out that they need. Once you have found this out you can do your pitch, but this time framed in a way that solves what’s on their mind. It’s like magic.
Treat it like a process
Selling is a process.
Every little thing matters in this – especially how you follow up, the emails you write, the tone you use, the materials you send.
Every one of these actions sends a signal representing how you will be to work with and can be as crucial to closing the deal as finding those leads and nailing the pitch.
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Customers and developing your product
In the early days, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what customers’ real pain-points are and who will be willing to pay you to help solve these.
Find your core target audience and speak to it. I am constantly amazed at how few companies do intense customer development.
Just remember that you should be looking to fit your product to the customer and market. The market does not flock to your genius bit of tech. Start with what they’ll buy not the product you want to sell.
Surround yourself with the best people
Success if often about learning from those who have endured the same challenges as you.
It’s not about you
There are companies whose sole purpose is to help startups. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled and check out the opportunities available – ranging from grants, loans, training, coaching and accelerators.
Don’t be afraid to raise your prices
In my experience, it’s not uncommon for startups to undersell their product.
It’s easy to consider pricing low to start getting money coming through the door, but remember that the value of your product is simply what someone is willing to pay. If you create enough desire people will find more money.
Be open to serendipity
Make sure you are willing to take chances, step back and say yes to interesting conversations and opportunities.
You may surprise yourself by what you learn, who you meet or what door they could open up.
Some of the best business opportunities I’ve had came across my desk have been a result of chance encounters with people. The tech community is such an amazing one to be a part of – everyone is constantly learning and developing new ideas. Plus, you never know where someone you meet in 2018 is going to be in 2028. So, make sure you network!
Create a revenue cheat sheet
Finally, get your revenue strategy down on paper. Every business can get revenue from outbound approaches, inbound leads created by you or other people who like what you do. Work out what your reliable revenue streams are and look after them!
Happy customers lead to more happy customers – common sense right? Yet, often people can neglect their existing customers when they’re focussed on finding new ones. Find the hacks that let you reach a wide audience to drive inbound leads. Content marketing? Social advertising? Events? Be targeted.
To bring new leads in you need a spot on outbound strategy, identify your market and work out how best to approach it.
These are all potential revenue streams. You’ll need a combination of them to win. Test and learn to find what works, write it all down on a cheat sheet and own it.