9 Expert Sales Tips For Startups

March 3, 2015

In the days leading up to our Startup Sales Conference, I asked a few of our speakers to share their expert sales tips for growing your startup.


1. EMBRACE SOCIAL SELLING


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Jill Rowley,


Keynote Speaker, Social Selling Evangelist, Startup Advisor, Investor


Use Social Networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to find and be found.  The modern buyer is digitally driven, socially connected, mobile, and empowered.  Social is an additional channel to do Research to be Relevant to build Relationships that drive Revenue.  Further, you can use Social to shine the spotlight on your BEST salespeople — guess what? — they’re not on your payroll — they’re your customer advocates. Your employees need to look as good online as they do offline — optimize social profiles to attract customers.  If you suck offline; you’ll suck more online. #Don’tSuck


2. WORRY ABOUT CUSTOMERS, NOT COMPETITION 


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Adam Metz,
VP TerrAvion, Amazon #1 Marketing Author


“If you’re worried about your competition in tech, save that worry for when your company has achieved greater than 10% market-share. In the meantime, worry about your prospective customers who are using nothing as an alternative to your product or service.”


3. CREATE YOUR MOMENT OF TRUTH AND MAKE IT COUNT


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Jim Benton,


Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, ClearSlide, Inc.


“Create a reason a prospective customer MUST hear you out; something so compelling or drives so much curiosity that they agree to book a call or meet with you. Then you have a single moment of truth to deliver on this and convince your prospective buyer that the solution you offer would truly change the way they do something for the better.  They key to this moment of truth is to have a well honed and repeatable way of showcasing the value of your product or solution – something that goes well beyond a simple product demo but includes customer examples, ROI stories, passionate quotes, and teachings about how something is changing and how you harness it to add value.  The more you deliver this personalize story consistently, the better you will get at it, and the higher the likelihood of closing business.  Focus on making sure these moments of truth count.”


4. FIND COMPATIBLE SALES TALENT 


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Dwight Foster,
Vice President of Sales and BD, Cirrus Insight


“More and more startups with strong initial traction have been founded by engineers. Very often “sales” to these founders is like coding is to sales pros. Many founders make the mistake of hiring “seasoned and experienced sales veterans” from traditional and established tech companies…..which is very often too much too soon and results in bad outcomes and lost, valuable time. Founders should seek out and consult with sales veterans with deep experience that understand the startup landscape and can recommend near, mid, and long term sales plans and strategies often for a fixed fee or company stock tied to specific deliverables and milestones. Beware the temptation to associate successful selling at Oracle or Salesforce to similar success at your company.”


5. DON’T PITCH THE PRODUCT, LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMER


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Brooke Botros,
Dir. of Sales, Spanning


“It’s very easy in sales to want to pitch your product offering and explain your solution right away to your prospects. Don’t let this be the case, and ask questions first to uncover THEIR business and THEIR needs. You will get more customers and referrals when you take the time to understand their landscape and make the selling process as easy as possible for them to do business with you.”


6. DRILL SMARTER


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Ryan Nichols,
CEO, Tylr Mobile (ex-Appirio)


“Selling a startup’s product is like prospecting for oil. And it is tempting to get excited when you see some oil seep into the first well you dig, and keep drilling. That’s dangerous– to scale, you need to tap a gusher. That first taste of oil– a great customer call, for example– can keep you from moving on to where you should really be drilling.”


7.  FOCUS ON HOW WE SELL


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Frank Slovenec,
Partner
at Jack B. Keenan


“In this time of an abundance of immediately available information, about every product and technology: How we sell is much more important than what we sell. The days of a sales person as a purveyor of product information, features and benefits is long gone.”


8. LEVERAGE YOUR PASSIONS


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Braydan Young,
Vice President of Business Development, First Job


“You cannot avoid the social interaction of networking especially in the Bay Area. Whether it’s going out to dinner with friends, running into an old acquaintance from college, seeing a co-worker outside of the office, or being introduced to a new connection, this city is an open arena for social networking, which makes it great. My advice is to not only attend networking events, but find some fun, exciting and interesting things to do– join clubs, groups, teams–whatever it may be, get involved with others who share similar interests. In essence, leverage your passions. In doing so, you directly leverage your networking.”


9. DON’T WRITE BIG SALES PLAYBOOKS


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Nilay Patel,


Co-Founder & CEO of Selligy


You absolutely need aggressive sales development – do multiple touches by email and phone for both inbound and outbound leads. But don’t write up big sales playbooks, because no one reads them. Sales development solutions are affordable for small teams, you’ll get more touches per rep (and thus more conversions) per week – and won’t waste time writing something no one will read!


If you found one or more of these tips helpful, visit Startup Sales Conference website to learn more.

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