As a visionary who’s launched a startup, you’ve got big plans for your business. You’re keen to forge ahead to bring your vision into reality.
The last thing you want to do is to be stuck IN the business doing things that can be outsourced to others.
Time is a precious resource and you want to spend as much time as possible on tasks that are going to move the needle.
Perhaps part of your plan is to hire a salesperson as soon as you start making sales. This would free up your time for ‘more important’ tasks.
It makes sense, right?
Although you have a specialist background, if you don’t have on-the-ground sales experience or don’t consider yourself a ‘natural seller,’ surely the sales role would be best in the hands of someone who does have sales skills and experience.
Actually, the opposite is true.
It can seem counterintuitive to many founders, but rushing into hiring a salesperson is actually the worst thing you could do.
Because, when it comes to sales, you need to walk before you can run. And you probably need to walk for longer than you think.
In the early stages of your startup, these sales meetings with prospects are where you do the bulk of your customer discovery.
With every call, you ask questions, learn what resonates (and what doesn’t), understand their challenges on a deeper level, and listen to the nuances of what they need.
This is where you master your understanding of your ideal customer.
Remove yourself too early from the sales process, and you’ll lose access to that golden nuanced information.
You’ll never know if you’re positioning your products or serving your customers in the absolute best way.
You also won’t have enough information on the best sales process and framework for you to use in order to train your sales person.
(Yes, you will have to train them in detail – even if they have good sales experience!).
So, what should a sales process entail?
And how do you know when it’s really time to hire a sales person?
As a rough rule of thumb, we recommend having at least 200 sales sessions under your belt before even thinking about hiring a salesperson.
That might seem like a lot, but this is your golden chance to ‘walk’ through the sales experience with every new prospect.
You’ll notice each call will bring up something new and valuable.
It’s so important to approach sales calls as a process of discovery, not just sales.
Your sales calls are some of the best market research calls you’ll ever do.
There are three simple parts to your sales call framework that will ensure you can achieve the two important objectives you want to achieve on these calls – get incredibly detailed user research insights AND make a sale.
BEFORE THE CALL
Prepare a simple slide deck that will help you systematically walk your prospect through the process you both need to go through together.
Importantly, remember to record each call. You’ll need it for market research purposes, and they’ll need it so they can relax into the session knowing they have a way of revisiting all the details you talk about later on.
PART 1: Elicit the problems and the gaps in your prospect’s situation
Create a list of questions that help you qualify the prospect and that open up space for them to talk in detail about their problems, challenges, and desires.
In this part of the sales call you do the least amount of talking.
It’s mostly listening and asking short, nuanced questions to elicit the details of their situation and have them confessing their problems.
PART 2: Introduce some information they don’t know yet (i.e. details about your product or service)
This is where you move into talking about some key aspects of their situation that they’re getting wrong, or that they don’t have optimised – either because they didn’t know a solution existed (e.g. the one you’ve created), or they weren’t sure how to go about implementing a solution for their situation.
The trick is to work out what details to share here, and what details to leave for later when they’ve bought, or signed up for, your solution.
It’s always most effective to focus on outcomes and transformations and not fall into the trap of talking too much about the intricacies and features (i.e. the ‘vehicle’) of your solution.
PART 3: Home in on the outcomes and transformations they’ll experience once they buy, or sign up for, your product or service
Highlight how your solution is perfectly positioned to solve their problem – how it’ll make their life easier, take away a pain point, or help them succeed in a whole new way.
Then, open up the conversation to allow them to ask buying questions.
AFTER THE CALL
Note the language your prospects use to explain their challenges. Then embed these phrases and feelings into your own messaging.
Reflecting back on the challenges your prospects express in their language is the best way to show empathy and understanding – and to give the clarity needed – in your future conversations.
Keep a sales log and note what worked and what didn’t, the questions you asked, and the language your prospects used in response.
It won’t take long for patterns to emerge in these calls, and these will give you clarity on the tweaks you need to make to your messaging, offer, and sales process.
So, how do you know your startup is ready to hire a dedicated salesperson?
- Always using the same set of questions and the same framework over and over again on the calls
- You’re repeatedly getting the same types of answers from prospects – to the point where you pretty much know what they’re going to say before they say it
- You’re able to clearly communicate your solution and outcomes without getting caught up in ambiguity and unnecessary details
- You’re overwhelmed with leads booking sales calls with you and you physically can’t handle them all yourself
If you want to improve your sales process and need some help developing your framework and streamlining your system, fill out this short questionnaire, and we’ll get in touch to help you with your next steps.
Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.
If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.
- You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
- Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.
If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.
The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.
If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.
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