Identifying the correct person to contact, inputting the information into your CRM system, and then making the call or sending the email is the easy part. The real work begins after that first contact. In B2B startup sales, you have to be prepared to make 3 to 5 additional follows-ups just to gauge interest level, let alone take a next step in the sales process such as a presentation, demo or proposal.
There are a number of statistics out there on this subject, and one I read recently suggested that most deals are closed successfully on the 8th to 13th touch. A touch could include an email, call, meeting, tweet, emailed newsletter and Linkedin contact. One area to cover quickly here is the value of a CRM system to successfully selling, especially to keep track of all the activities both historical and planned.
Staying on Top of Follow-Ups
Where we have found most B2B startups run into difficulty is in staying on top of the follow-ups and maintaining the necessary level of persistence to get to the next stage.
It is very easy to underestimate the time it takes to get a response, and in many cases the people leading the start-up believe they have the best product or solution on the market and that prospects should be jumping at the chance to have a conversation with them. The reality is that this is not the case and most purchasers are cautious around start-ups, even well-funded ones, because of their lack of customer base and length of time in business. Add this additional level of uncertainty onto the already lengthy sales cycle, and you can see how persistence and building confidence through effort is a key factor to success.
Number of Follow-Ups Before a Success
We have run this B2B startup sales gauntlet many times over the last 7 years, and I’ve highlighted a few examples from our past efforts below:
- For a firm we were working with in the industry consulting space, it took over 13 touches to secure a deal with a large international growing technology company
- For a client in the financial services space, it took over 18 touches to secure a national deal with a very large industrial services provider
- For a customer the cleantech space, it took over 20 person-days of investment to secure a large deal with a Fortune 10 company
- For a prospect we were pitching in the tech space, it took monthly touches over a 2 year period to close the deal
As you can see from the brief list of examples above, it takes persistent and consistent effort to win deals. This translates to a substantial investment of time.
To ensure you have success with your sales efforts be prepared for multiple touches and sales cycles lasting 6 to 18 months. Train yourselves and your sales people to expect this amount of effort will be necessary to close deals.
If VA Partners can help your company with any B2B startup sales assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.