Your startup company has a great product, it’s ready to sell and all you’re missing is the motivation and direction to get started. In mentoring dozens of startups over the years, I’ve found that two of the biggest roadblocks to selling success are a lack of focus and inconsistency in a selling plan. Below I’ve outlined ten steps that can get you on your way to increasing your reach, selling more and growing your startup company in 2017.
1. Dedicate the time necessary to give your selling efforts the best chance for success in 2017. This means setting your schedule each day, week and month to block out time for prospecting as you make your way through the selling process for each new customer. If you are serious about growing your startup, then you need to make this decision today!
2. Calculate and write down your company’s sales goals for 2017. What is your revenue goal by year end? What is your average revenue gained per customer? How many customers need to buy your product for you to hit your revenue goal?
3. List your startup company’s product features. Then write down the corresponding benefit your customer will enjoy by purchasing your product. A feature is a characteristic of your product. A benefit is the solution, enjoyment or relief your customer will experience from that product feature. For example, a feature of a product could be that it is lightweight. The corresponding benefit is that the lightweight product will keep fatigue from setting in, allowing your customer to use your product for longer periods of time.
4. Identify which types of customers, industries or market sectors would best utilize your product. Perform a simple Google search in a regional area for names, businesses and potential customers to call. For example, search “hotels in Gainesville” or “bars in Orlando.” Other lead generation sources can be local chamber of commerce lists, trade association publications and online map searches.
5. Create a list of as many potential leads as you can. You can’t have too many. While there are many free and paid lead generation services available, a simple Google search will get you started with a business name, address and phone number. That’s all you need right now. Put hundreds of leads into a spreadsheet or database of your choosing. Once you have a few hundred leads to call on, you can begin your prospecting activities.
6. Build an outbound calling script complete with a courteous introduction and questions that will get you to the decision-maker. A script will keep you on track, and after reading it a few dozen times, any fears of sounding “robotic” will go away. Throughout your calling process, continually ask for “help.” When you are humble and ask for help, people will want to help. Don’t bulldoze your way through a gatekeeper en route to find a decision-maker. Bring the gatekeeper along for the ride and have them be your ally in the process. Always keep your calling script in front of you. Take copious notes as you prospect.
7. Create a list of discovery questions that you can use to investigate and assess the needs, wants and pain-points of your prospect. A discovery question gets your prospect talking and typically is answered with a conversation rather than a simple yes or no. These questions will help you stay on track and continue the conversation as you identify how your product will solve a problem for your prospect. Listen more and talk less. The more you get a prospect talking about themselves and their business, the closer they come to realizing the value of your product.
8. Demonstrate your product and show off its benefits with confidence and pride. You built a product that will satisfy a want or need, or relieve a pain point. You are doing a disservice if you don’t help your prospect down the path to realize this fact. Once you feel you have positive reactions and buying signals from your prospect, ask them if they’d like to do business!
9. Track everything. Track how many calls you make, how many decision-makers you reach and how many deals you close. This is imperative as you track your progress throughout the year. For example, if it took you 100 calls to reach 20 decision-makers, and 3 of those decision-makers bought from you, you have a 3 percent closing ratio. If your goal is to sell 250 customers in a year, that means that you need to make 8,333 prospecting calls. Don’t be scared by that number! Break it down as follows — 8,333 calls over one year means 695 calls per month or 160 calls per week. You can easily call on 15 leads per hour, so that means you need to dedicate 11 hours per week to prospecting. Just like that!
10. Outbound calling and prospecting is hard work. But if you are passionate about your startup company and want to see it succeed, it’s imperative you do the “hard stuff” to help you hit your goals. You will face rejection each day. Don’t take it personally and remember that someone won’t physically hurt you through this process. If a call goes badly, identify what you can improve upon, and then forget about that call and move on to the next one. Envision what rewards you’ll enjoy if you hit your revenue and customer goals by the end of the year!
Selling is magic. There is a process to follow for selling success. You weren’t born with the ability to sell, but you were born with the ability to learn. The best way to learn is by studying sales techniques and then practicing those techniques in an active selling environment. If you stick to your plan, you will see results. However, if you don’t apply the focus necessary to stick to the plan, then your effort will be futile.
Whether you are a startup CEO or burgeoning entrepreneur, you probably have a burning desire to succeed. Those traits are paramount in building your new company. But for your startup company’s growth to come to fruition, it starts with you. Make the decision today to get started. You’ll be glad you did. I promise!
BRAD GAMBLE is the founder and CEO of The Selling Factory. Their mission is to provide a high-energy selling environment where students will learn, entrepreneurs will grow and companies will flourish. The Selling Factory offers sales training and coaching through our series of SELLING BOOT CAMP courses and daily SELLING BLITZ sessions. Our selling-focused services are facilitated in our beautiful 5,000 square foot selling-focused co-working space at 2020 West University Avenue, across from the University of Florida campus. To learn more about The Selling Factory, visit thesellingfactory.com or call 352-258-3705.