Patience and the need to nurture sales

Do you think there is a need to nurture sales? If not, you may be sabotaging your own revenue opportunities.

It’s important to recognize there’s a need to nurture.

Many startups are driven  by ‘revenue panic’ while other, more established businesses may be driven by the demand for quarterly revenue increases  – in either case they need to practice nurturing — and to not simply walk away from prospects that aren’t buying immediately.

Time versus Nurturing

In many cases sales may deem certain prospects unsuitable because they aren’t going to buy in the next quarter. This short-term view, driven by panic for cashflow or relentless revenue goals, needs to shift to a solid nurturing approach, with opportunities and prospects being added to a long-term nurturing process which is reviewed, measured and a part of the marketing plan.

Trust goes hand-in-hand with Nurturing

The importance of trust is well documented in the transactional sales cycle. Numerous studies over many years draw attention to it’s importance in winning more opportunities, prospects and ultimately new customers. But how do you build trust?

By relationship, little by little, via nurturing. Relationship building is good for everyone – good for both seller and buyer. We have all heard anecdotes of the customers that follow a good sales person elsewhere? That is the power of relationship – and the importance of nurturing it within the sales cycle.

As well as dissolving uncertainty and risk for the prospect, it ensures that you, the seller, are really listening. Whether it is the messaging you create, the communications you send or the calls you make; take the time to listen, nurture, build relationship.

How patient do you think you are with opportunities to nurture sales and to help your prospects at all stages of the sales cycle?

Want to ramp up your sales and shift your business results?  Sign up now for our 60-Day Sales Challenge.

Are You Working to a Written Marketing Plan?

technology marketing plan successDo you have a written marketing plan?

To some people this may sound like a ludicrous question, but having worked with more than 300 vendors (of all stages and sizes) over the past 18 years, I still find myself surprised by the number of vendors that don’t have an explicit and written marketing plan.

When I say ‘plan’ I mean something written, that has been discussed and is agreed upon by relevant stakeholders.

I see plenty of cases where there is no written marketing plan – and instead, marketing is done on a whim, a hope, possibly a prayer.

So if you don’t have a written marketing plan in place, my advice is to start on one – now

Yes, creating a marketing plan can take time (though it doesn’t need to be – in fact shouldn’t be – ‘War and Peace’). And while having a plan in place is a great starting point, the plan then needs to be executed – campaigns  are run based on the plan, launches are mapped out, metrics are in place, it’s measured and optimized.

Want some ideas on what you should (and shouldn’t) include in your marketing plan?  Sign up for a free 30-minute strategy session to discuss your marketing and sales.

Sales: What problems don’t you solve?

I previously talked about the need to see things from the buyer’s perspective, and in the best-possible sales scenario, to actually become the assistant buyer.

In order to help the buyer as much as possible, you have to work to understand the problems that they have and know the problems you solve. And be really clear on this, and very specific.

What’s just as important as knowing what problems you solve, is knowing what problems you don’t solve.  In the sales process, some salespeople— intending to be helpful — can end up trying to solve problems that are not what they are there for. While this may seem to be well-meaning, it’s confusing to the buyer. It dilutes the strength of what you do and what you specialize in, and can make you look like an opportunist, not committed to a single vision, or interested in helping the customer to the best of your ability.

This side-stepping in order to take advantage of a different problem can also be symptomatic of a few things:

(1) you’re worried that your solution or whatever you are proposing as a sale isn’t enough, or that you personally feel a need to prove yourself worthy;

(2) that you’re easily distracted. Some people call it the Squirrel Syndrome – as in, “Ooooh look, there’s a squirrel,” also known as the Shiny Penny Syndrome. If you do have a tendency to be distracted — and if you’re an entrepreneur — you wouldn’t be the first. This ability to spot an opportunity, or to want to solve a problem or to be challenged and resolve a situation is a common trait of entrepreneurs.

But, it’s still a distraction. For everyone involved and certainly from the sales process. So, stick to the problem you know you can sell and the best way that you can serve the prospect.

So while it’s important to be crystal clear on what problems you solve, it’s also very important that you have boundaries and that you don’t get distracted, confuse the buyer, and try to solve problems that are simply not in your wheelhouse.

Want to increase the rate of sales at your startup or business? Then sign up to join Hazel Butters for a free mini-training: “How to Make Your Startup a Sales Machine.”

 

Winning customers vs closing sales

Sales: Are you just selling or creating customers?Great sales is about doing the right thing for everyone involved: for your business, yourself, your team, and the customer.  If you’re selling something that isn’t totally serving the end user, then you’re not creating a customer base; you’re just closing sales.

Some people may think: “So what if I’m only closing sales? That’s what I need to do.” But this mindset doesn’t come from a place of service. Using this theory, then, sales is about manipulation. It means that you aren’t acting in the best interest of your customers. You may get a sale, but you don’t have a customer — a contact that will appreciate and recommend you, or become a reference or someone who trusts you.

Sales is something you do for someone, and not something you do to them.

Zig Ziglar talked about sales being the need to become the assistant buyer — thinking from the prospect’s perspective.

If you’re entrepreneur who wants to increase sales and drive business results for your startup, then join us for our free online training:  “How to Make Your Startup a Sales Machine.” Click here to find out when the next training is and to secure your place

 

Chicken and the egg: Raising cash for your startup

You have a great idea and you’re going to bring a new product or service to maChicken and egg: Raising funds for your startuprket. It’s an exciting time as you imagine the changes your idea could bring. You’re embarking on changing a corner of the world in some way and impacting people’s lives — how they work, travel, communicate, think, feel or act.

Now the tricky bit — cash. Am I right? However great your idea is, or lean your startup is, you need money. You just can’t get avoid the need for funding. Welcome to the startup’s chicken-and-egg dilemma: your product is awesome* (*let’s assume this is true) and will generate cash, but you can’t develop, market and deliver your product until you have — you guessed it — cash.

There are certainly numerous ways to fund your dream — here are some possibilities to generate cash or support for your startup:

  • Bootstrapping (which typically involves giving up anything in your life that costs money: food, rent, fun)
  • Friends and family (also known as unaccredited investors)
  • Equity investment: Accredited investors such as business angels or venture capitalists – this includes convertible debt options
  • Debt investments or loans: Bank loans, private loans, microloans, credit cards
  • Government sources: Economic development initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce programs
  • Support organizations: Business incubators, business accelerators
  • Crowdfunding: These could be rewards-, equity-, donation- or lending-based.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options. For some of these funding sources, the upside includes mentorship, access to resources, introductions, networking and collaboration. Potential downsides include loss of equity and control, accrued debt and interest fees.

One area that many startups seem to avoid in the early-stage build phase is sales. Cold, hard sales — where you tell people about the benefits of your product and ask them for cash — would not only help fund your growth but would also create a customer base of fans that could support you in ways that go beyond the financial.

Even if you are working from an incubator or have access to initial funds, you need to learn — and feel comfortable enough — to sell your product.

If you’re dragging your sales heels, then why not join one of our free two-hour workshops – The Build Phase – Increasing Sales (Fast) as a Tech Startup – which are being hosted in Boston, Cambridge, Austin, San Francisco and New York. Check out our workshops page for all upcoming workshops and to register.