Sales Collaboration — The Missing Link for Startups and Fledgling Businesses

Startups and fledgling businesses often have to deal with a lot of challenges. Foremost among them is sales.

If operations is the brain and finance is the heart, you can think of sales as the soul of a business.

For most entrepreneurs, at least those who are going into entrepreneurship for the first time, sales can be an intimidating thing. However, every entrepreneur needs to understand that sales is going to play a major part in their success.

But how must entrepreneurs deal with it? Some would say that we are all born sellers. Others would advise to come up with an effective sales framework. Then there are those who would say to focus on how effectively your product or service solves a problem and sales will follow. There are a lot more of these. Sales is as simple as finding your way on a complex maze. It is simple and complicated at the same time! Let that sink in. The point is there are a lot of ways for entrepreneurs to increase their sales.

One of which is sales collaboration.

Sales Collaboration as an Enabler

When you are handling sales for a startup or a fledgling business, there would be a lot of factors that come into play in order for you to make a sale. This is especially true for B2B startups.

Is your product or service really solving the problem your clients have? How long have you been in business? Do you have enough resources to deliver other complementary products or services which your clients also need? How will you handle aftersales support? The list goes on.

This is where sales collaboration comes in handy.

Sales collaboration is a concept of pooling resources to offer and deliver the products and services that the client needs. Sales collaboration can be internal or external.

Internal sales collaboration is more applicable to later stage startups or established businesses. This is where the business combines resources from various departments in order to increase the capability to offer and deliver the products and services the client needs.

On the other hand, external sales collaboration is teaming up with other startups or businesses that can complement your startup’s core competencies. This will enable you to (1) maximize resources, (2) ensure capable teams work on things they specialize in, (3) appear more credible and more capable to the client, (4) lower cost to deliver products and services, and (5) be able to cover more ground in terms of capabilities to offer more products and services.

In short, sales collaboration is an enabler for your startup or business to get to the next level.

In business, you need the right timing and the right partners.

A friend of mine once told me, “In business, you need the right timing and the right partners. Finding the right timing is easy. It’s finding the right partners that’s hard.”

When was the last time you talked to clients, identified their needs, and found out you can’t deliver a solution to some of these? Good sales people will be honest and tell the clients they have no capability to deliver some of their requirements. Bad sales people will overpromise and underdeliver. Great sales people will explore ways to collaborate with other businesses in order to help the client solve their problems.

It goes without saying that in order for you to have effective sales collaboration, you need to have the right partners.

Finding the Right Partners for an Effective Sales Collaboration

Many people will have different ways on how to find the right partners. The ones below helped me in identifying potential partners:

  1. There should be mutual trust. — There is little incentive in doing business with partners you can’t trust. It’s not totally pointless but it’s a big deal, one that could break the partnership eventually.
  2. Your core competencies must be complementary. — You should be able to effectively share resources and for this to be truly effective, your respective team’s skill sets must not be redundant.
  3. Communication is important. — There will be cases where you’ll have disagreements. It is imperative that all partners are open with each other and are comfortable to discuss issues at hand in a professional manner.
  4. Aligned vision to lead the partnership moving forward. — Begin with the end in mind. Is this collaboration going to be a one-time thing or something all parties would want for the long term? What would be your targets and goals in the next 5 to 10 years? Your vision should be aligned in order to eliminate conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

Sales collaboration built on the abovementioned items can be more effective than ones which are not. Having a partner that your business can collaborate in sales will help you fill the gaps your business has and better position it to acquire a bigger market share with your combined shared resources and capability to offer a wider range of products and services.

Have you tried sales collaboration for your startup or business? What worked and what didn’t work for you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Email me at chino@timefree.ph and let’s exchange notes and learnings.