With investors highly focused on startups showing traction, sales is a key consideration for early-stage companies – but it is easy for any team to go astray.
We spoke to Jim Estill (pictured above), a veteran technology entrepreneur and sales leader, on some of the common mistakes startups make. Estill will lead a workshop on startup sales strategy at Communitech on Oct. 29.
Four ways your startup sales strategy is failing:
1. Believing there is only one way to sell the product
In the startup phase, you have to experiment and try different things, Estill said. But trying different approaches in succession can waste valuable time, and companies can run out of money in the meantime. It is better to test several approaches concurrently and change as you go.
2. Believing a better product will sell itself
It’s the technical founder syndrome that “If I build a better mousetrap, they will buy it.” Building a better product does is not a substitute for hustle.
3. Selling product like a market leader
Startups will often hire the top salesperson from large enterprises; however, selling styles differ greatly between small and large companies, Estill said. If you call from a larger, well-known firm and make promises, the buyer trusts you can deliver, but an unknown startup with fewer resources can find it difficult to keep promises made by their big-company sales rep.
4. Not making your sales process scalable
Over-reliance on the genius salesperson is a big problem, Estill warned. If you have a product that can only be sold by your one sales ninja, then you can’t scale your sales team or company. You should be able to hire virtually anybody and have them follow a system and process to sell the product, and achieve similar results across the board.