It’s important that one person thinks about sales every day and spends most of his time on this. That person should probably be a founder.
The core responsibility of every startup founder isn’t only building a product but also talking to users and understanding their needs, and that is really a big part of what selling is. Sales is like a funnel, there are different variations of this funnel. Which are:
1- Finding prospects (prospecting): Who are the leads in the market? And who might be interested in buying your product and might be interested in joining a call with you?
The mission in the first stage of prospecting is to figure out who will even take your call. It is helpful to understand the technology adoption curve put out by Evertt Roger in the 60s.
It starts from the left where you have:
- Your innovators (2.5%).
- Early adopters to your technology (13.5 %).
- Early Majority to your technology (34%).
- Late Majority to your technology (34%).
- Laggards to your technology (16%).
Everett Rogers went through the efforts of the area under the curve in each of these different segments.
You have innovators who will try new things, early adopters, mid-stage adopters, late adopters, and laggers. He has quantified the tail of this bell curve. Innovators are your potential customers. It means you have to reach out to at least 200 companies to find two and a half on average who are potential buyers for your product. It can be extremely helpful to have this frame of mind because when only 2.5 percent of companies that will even take your call or consider using/ buying your product.
2-Conversations: from there you have conversations to figure out is this the right product for them or not.
When you get people on the phone, remember to stop talking and listen. Sales is about listening because that’s what sales is at its core. People think sales is about trying to make someone buy your product by talking and hitting points. But that doesn’t work. What works is building a relationship with people, by understanding their problems and what their needs are, and seeing if you can help them with your solution.
In order to make that happen, you have to listen. The best salespeople in the world listen 70% of the time and they ask questions like” Tell me about the problem you are having”, “How do you solve it today?”, “Why did you even agree to take my call?” and” What ideal solution looks like if you could have anything?”.
3- Closing: Now your customers actually want to buy your product but how do you snatch defeat it from the jaws of victory and win the deal? you have to go through the closing process. You have to close a contract with your customers who they told you they want to buy your product.
It’s harder than it sounds, a lot of deals get messed up in here. Here are some closing traps:
Redlins: The final step is to send them an agreement. The redlining process is when both parties request changes on the agreements document. You need to have an agreement to propose as a first step and they are going to expect it from you. Check out Y Combinator Sales Agreement template posted on their website
4- The Promised land (Revenue) : If you go through all of these things you are hopefully in the promised land, you have revenue now, and you have your first sales.