I recently caught up with a friend who helps startups during a very hard phase – getting initial customers. He does this for many startups. It’s not only a challenge to get the first customers; in addition – he goes after large enterprises, with little brand to back him. He was telling me about a prospect that was very publicly requesting quotes from all of his competition, and the client startup he worked with is in a very competitive market. Needless to say – to close this deal, it looked like a moonshot, and he needed some sales-ninja skills to win.
Despite all odds against him, he ended up winning the deal. He told me the winning strategy that allows him to repeat this over and over. There was a lot, but I boiled down the top 3 ways that are the easiest to implement and have the biggest leverage. Use them and win, no matter what you’re selling.
Update: I started implementing these tactics and am already seeing results, and while I do love sales already, I’m enjoying my job even more – and my prospects like me more too. Whod’a thought? Enjoy…
Show product or company evolution
One of the key benefits of a startup, compared to a large incumbent competitor is product agility. Assuming you have the engineering muscle to build something, even if it’s a small-ish feature to implement, you should tell the prospect about it, especially if the prospect asked for it at the last call. Following up and talking about new product features not only show that you care about making a great product, they show that your team is alive and innovative, and may just be around in the future, or at least the duration of their contract with you. If you don’t have an evolving product, maybe you can think of new ways the prospect can use it.
Show interest in the prospect, personally
You’ve heard of social selling, so leverage it, and don’t stop doing it when you land your first meeting. By the way, social selling means more than just finding someone on a social network and contacting them. When I have a first demo, I generally go as far as looking at their interests, liking their posts, and asking them about it on subsequent calls or emails. I also ask them about their motivations and goals at work. Taking literally 60 seconds to go look up someone’s life outside of work or asking about their goals goes farther than 95% of the other sales people out there, who go about their day robotically, with no emotional investment. Also, try and meet your prospect in person whenever possible. Show you’re human, it’s becoming less common these days.
Respond lightning fast to any request
I’ll preface this by saying you shouldn’t go dark after they buy, but it’s even more important during the prospecting, aka courting phase. This is when you make a first impression. Responding lighting fast is easy. Even if you’re swamped and write a quick reply like, “Sounds good, I’ll get back to you soon on this!”, shows that you care and want to help them. After all, sales is about helping people, not just making money, and ironically the more you try and help and think less about money or your quota, the more you’ll make, and hey, you might even feel better about yourself. What’s cooler is the prospect who’s now about to become your customer also likes you.
If you haven’t noticed, the common thread of these tactics is that they’re all based on building trust. In fact, perhaps they’re not tactics at all; rather lessons in relationship building. What my friend and I have found is it has less to do with how many features your product has or how big your brand is. Yes, you’ll lose deals that the prospect needed specific features for, but you’ll also win a ton, as long as your product has a market fit. At the end of the day, you’re going to realize that people buy from you because they trust and like you, and you’ve shown an earnest effort that you want to make their life better. The good news is that you have control over this, no matter what your outside circumstances are.
I hope these tips help you sell more. Feel free to contact me here on LinkedIn if I can help you out!