SALES – The Heartbeat of a Start-up
So, you’ve put your heart and soul into developing your product or service and now you have to get ready for the big test – the market. The place that is brutal with its truth. While sales and marketing may be one of the most important functions for a start-up, not many founders as Jayant Kelkar puts it “are well versed with the nuts and bolts of selling.”
Which gets translated into mistakes that can end up in disaster. Here Jayant, who is the founder of Sales Fundas explains the mistakes start-up founders make whilst selling:
Mistake No 1:
Generally, founders are tech persons. And often they are busy with several activities at the same time. Raising funds, compliances, etc. As a result, the sales operation is either not given enough thought or is poorly planned. The sales process is challenging and will differ from product to product, from target audience to target audience. There is no one size fits all, and start-ups have to bear this in mind.
Mistake No 2:
There are several misconceptions about recruiting. Either a company will recruit the wrong people or recruit too many. The wrong person for the job will result in poor or no sales. And hiring too many will tell on your bottom line. In fact, this may end up killing the market because the wrong people won’t know how to communicate, and having more than necessary people on the job will hit productivity. Salespersons should be in the problem-solving mode, not the selling mode.
Mistake No 3:
Training travails: A founder best knows his product. He is the best guy to explain what his product is, what it can do, and so on. But since it is impossible for him to do the sales, it is vital that he transfers his knowledge and perhaps even his passion to his sales team. Most people think that excellent brochures and collaterals are good enough. Sales is more about soft skills. In fact, the biggest bother for any salesperson is prospecting – getting the right customer. How do you make it easy for your team to adopt the best set of skills? How do you make it easy for them? What is it that your sales team needs to learn? If you don’t know that, how will you hire the right trainer?
Mistake No. 4:
Not being able to build a customer-first culture. Most people hire experienced salespersons. But an experienced man comes with his own baggage. With the numbers, he will soon start dictating what your strategy should be. And if numbers become the game, then who will take care of the customer? His needs? A culture focusing on the customer rather than sales is vital for any start-up.
Mistake No. 5:
99% of the start-ups I work with don’t have a sales management system. As a result, they have no idea of what’s working and what is not. So if their lead generation has got them 1000 leads and only three have converted to sales then the company will say let’s increase lead generation so that we get 10% conversion. But do you know why only 3% of your leads are converting? If you have not tracked data, you won’t know why they are buying or stopped buying your product. What are the reasons? Or after two or three years your sales plateau? Without this knowledge, you are simply shooting in the dark. This is why every company needs to have a sales management system.
Mistake No. 6:
Poor focus on sales. There are many start-ups that are tech-based and most are super focused on the product side rather than the sales. I think it is equally important that start-up founders give equal importance to the function of sales.