One of the best ways to sell more and faster is to talk to customers. This may seem obvious, but I think startups take too long to engage prospects. Don’t wait, talk to customers. One of my recent blogs was about in-person sales, so this is a bit of my get back to old school sales phases. I do find that many startups have a bit of analysis/paralysis where they want everything to be perfect before engaging a prospective target. Being prepared is important, but one of the best ways to get information to support sales strategy and a product launch is to talk to customers.
You may want to start with existing contacts. This should increase the volume and speed of the meetings. Look to leverage LinkedIn to get to your second connections. Reach out directly or get a referral to potential customers. Here are a few of the items that you can learn from talking to customers.
Ideal Customer Profile
How have you defined your ideal customer profile and buyer persona? There will be some that will be a better fit for your solution based on a number of factors including how serious the problem is, how easy it is to find budget, and what other options you may have. Meeting with these companies and validating your assumptions or improving your targeting is very important.
Is your value proposition landing with your target customers? Do you understand the problems they face? Are your benefits important to them? Is it hard to get into them based on your value proposition and messaging? This is where your friendly contacts may be a big help as they can see you quickly. You could also discover that you are missing a feature that could become a huge benefit for a customer. These items can become your future product features.
You may have assumptions on who your competitors are, but this can quickly change once you start talking to customers. This information can help you then be able to talk about where you are stronger and in some cases weaker than a specific competitor. Remember as well that a competitor can be doing the same thing they are already doing. This may not be a software solution, but an existing process.
The Buying Process
How does your customer buy? This is something that is good to work out well in advance of when you actually can sell. You will find that there could be different methods, even with organizations in the same industry. The more expensive your solution and the larger the organization you are selling to, the more complex the buying process. You may also find there are windows where decisions get made in a calendar year. Miss the window and you have to wait another year.
Record Your Information
The best time to implement a CRM was yesterday, the second best time is today. This is a phrase that I like to share when people ask if they need a CRM. If you are selling B2B, you should have a CRM. You can store the information you are collecting with these early sales activities. If you find an opportunity that is months or even years out, create a deal. It takes effort to get this information, don’t lose it.
If you would like to talk about how we can get you ready to talk to customers please reach out and connect with me.