After thinking about “going for it” and deciding to move forward, a huge portion of your business activities relate to sales, well before you start selling your product to customers. I have been through this process many times and the art of sales becomes a consistent and major part of your life.
Here are some examples:
-- Once you make the decision to move forward with your startup, the process of selling the idea to your spouse, friends and others close to you begins. After all, you probably have heard the saying “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” If your inner circle does not believe in what you are about to embark on, the path to success becomes a bit more challenging. On the other hand, major support from people you trust can be a vital ingredient for success.
-- You will also need to recruit team members to join the company and become part of the mission. This process requires heavy sales and frequently involves convincing people to leave what they are currently doing and to jump onto your ship. A strong salesperson (with a good concept, of course) will find himself surrounded by a solid team much quicker than someone who is a mediocre storyteller, lacking in confidence.
-- There will be a great deal of salesmanship involved with networking in your industry to find advisors and mentors who have the connections and relationships to maximize your company's odds of success. These people will need to be convinced that it is worthwhile for them to carve out a portion of their valuable bandwidth for you and your company.
-- And of course, there is the perpetual selling to get accepted into an accelerator, to successfully pitch angel investors and VCs and to continue to receive necessary funding. I often recommend the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, evangelized by author/investor Guy Kawasaki as a great selling tool when addressing potential investors. Simply put – keep your presentations to 10 slides, 20 minutes in length and use a 30-point font within PowerPoint or whatever software tool you are using.
And all of this takes place before the product-related selling truly begins. How do you sell? In general, to create an efficient and effective sales process, a company needs to orchestrate a series of steps through which a sale passes, from prospecting through closing the deal. Even in the early days of a startup, I would highly recommend a user-friendly CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software package, such as Pipeliner CRM to help manage sales.
With just about every insider and onlooker – from friends to colleagues to investors to possibly the press – wondering how your startup is doing, every sale counts. Even a tiny sale to an unknown customer can help support the all-important bottom line and move your startup to cash flow positive status. In the current world of startups and entrepreneurship, “traction” is a major buzzword and one of the key metrics in determining whether a company is heading in the right direction. No matter how you look at it, sales and traction are best friends.
[Disclosure - Pipelinersales is a client of Halperin Marketing & Digital Innovation, LLC.]