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What’s Your Sales Strategy?
As Yogi Berra famously opined in one of his ‘Yogi-isms’, “if you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up some place else.”
Yogi was talking about baseball, but the sentiment also rings true for startups. Entrepreneurs typically tend to over focus on their products because of their intimate involvement in product development. In the process, they often neglect to develop a detailed sales strategy that can lead to sustainable growth. If your goal is to build a business, you need a plan. The process doesn’t end when you develop your minimum viable product.
Taking the time to develop a detailed sales strategy will help guide the daily, weekly, and monthly activities that will help you grow your business. At Venture Accelerator Partners, we use the Sales and Marketing Fast Start Plan as our guide for ourselves and our customers as we work through an engagement. The key elements that should be addressed in your sales and marketing strategy include:
What customer problem or pain point you are helping to resolve? Customers don’t buy products and services. They buy solutions to problems. In detail, describe the benefits, features, and functions of your solution and how it helps your customers solve the problems that matter to them.
Target Customer and Contacts
What are the best industries, verticals, organization sizes, and geographies for your product or service? With limited time and resources, entrepreneurs need to be specific and target a niche to build a beachhead. It’s also critical to identify and build personas around who is involved in the decision making process from your target customers perspective. What matters to them?
What value do provide your target customers? Remember, values and features are not the same thing. Crafting a great value proposition requires you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and find out what motivates them. And while it can be tough to do as a startup, quantifying the benefits of your solution will help your value proposition become very powerful.
The Path to Sales Success
What has to happen for a prospect to become a customer? Identify the stages of your sales funnel and align your sales and marketing tactics to nurture customers and prospects from top to bottom. (Check out a previous article about what the sales funnel is and how content marketing fits into it.)
Sales and Marketing Tactics
It can be hard to know where to start, but ask yourself, where do your target contacts find the information that they use to make decisions? Before embracing any tactic, ensure your cost of sale can support the tactic, you have the resources to execute the tactic, and you have the runway to execute the tactic. What matters at the end of the day are the sales and marketing tactics that help you reach your target customers and build relationships.
Process and Tools
There are many tools and processes that can be used to help create repeatable winning actions that help organizations close revenue faster and with less effort.
Who are you competing with? What are they better at than you? Where are you better than them? Expand your frame of reference and consider that if you operate in a new market, you may be up against the ‘do nothing’ alternative. How will you meet that challenge?
How to Turn Objections into Objectives
What objections might you face through the sales process and how can you overcome them? Use customer objections as opportunities to further engage your prospect and learn about their problems.
A revenue target or user base target should be your end goal. What are some activity goals and other quantifiable targets that will help you get there? Targets could include meetings with key decision makers, growth in website page views or social media followers, a number of inbound leads, or proposals submitted.
Many entrepreneurs expect sales to happen almost by accident. Creating a detailed sales strategy and execution plan will lead to a more focused sales effort with better results. If you would like to understand more about how to develop a sales strategy for your startup, feel free to reach out to me.
Co-Founder of Venture Accelerator Partners