Yuriy M & Mark Dilson getting things done in a coffee shop.
Having people in your company who can influence others, motivate people, tell stories, and close on next steps are important. Businesses need salespeople, particularly in the B2B markets where the product or service costs are relatively high (think solution sales.) Cutting-edge and highly innovative companies, especially, need a storyteller who can paint a picture of what their product or service can do for another business. While large organizations have defined salespeople in their companies, startups and small businesses usually do not have that luxury. However, someone in the business must act as the salesperson.
How do you find that person?
To start, think people.
Startups typically consist of individuals whose unique skillsets are basis of the offerings created by that company. For example, the company could be a team of developers or engineers who create an app or tool that is compelling to businesses or consumers. While one may not consider developers or engineers to fit the salesperson profile, they are more likely to do a better job “selling” the product. Why? Well, have you seen developers and engineers in startups at work? They spend hours, days, and weeks running through code, fixing bugs, and testing apps, just to get too a minimal viable product. These are the people who can tell the story and show potential customers what the product is capable of accomplishing. They are also the people who can better comprehend the vision of the product as it continues to be developed. The passion behind developers begins the sales cycle (and help develop the marketing plan.)
Bring on a business manager.
There are several reasons to have a business manager. Simply, it does not make sense to pull the engineers and developers away from their work to handle business operations that an experienced business manager can handle (however, everyone should be involved in strategic decision-making.) In the case of sales, the business manager understands when a lead is generated after the developers tell the story. The business manager also manages the relationship between customers and the company. It is important that someone can speak “business” with customer decision makers, which is usually the business manager. Effectively, this person manages the sales process and leads the customer through negations and closes the deal. (Have you brushed up on your negotiation skills?)
Side note: it is imperative that the business manager understands the product or service and its benefits –think “elevator pitch.”
Practice the process.
Coach each other around the sales process. As a team, consider the following.
- What do we say to get a prospect interested in what we’ve created and who should initiate the conversation?
- How will we continue the conversation with an interested prospect and what type of communication will we provide?
- When do the product creators engage vs. the business manager?
- Will there be a proof of concept and if yes, who will be there to tell the story?
- How do we move the customer around the sales process?
- Who negotiates with the customer, regardless of variable (price, timing, project scope?)
Have a candid conversation with the team about strengths from each individual. Continue coaching each other and adapting throughout the first sale and reassess the process after every sales early in the business (yes, have a process –don’t wing it.)
YMI Consulting can help.
If you’re lacking a business manager, let us know and we can help you get your product to market by focusing development efforts on creating a product in which there is market demand.
If you have a business manager, let’s work together to create your startup’s sales process, your sales story, and set you up for negotiation success.
Contact us for more details.