As a sales consultant, I’ve been approached by many organisations who say – We want to grow our business! We want to sell more! We want to be market leaders!
When I ask simple questions like – what do your customers want? do you understand your target market? What are your USPs? I’m often looked at blankly because a lot of organisations are grown by practitioners that get so excited by their product, that they haven’t thought about who will buy it or how they are going to sell it.
I was once approached by an organisation to sell a new technology product. I was given a product demo, a glossy brochure, pricing and a contact list so I could “hit the ground running”. It wasn’t long before I discovered that their target market were on the wrong IT platform for the product and that the pricing had been plucked out of thin air and wasn’t competitive at all. It took months before I was able to help the organisation to be ready to really start campaigning, by which time there was a competitive product on the market and their reputation had gone downhill!
Entrepreneurs often get excited about the product they want to develop. They spend hours refining their proposition, designing their product and getting enthusiastic about how great they will be at delivering the service that they forget one very important thing – what their customers really want and their sales approach.
Repeatedly, I’ve seen founders build some mediocre product, announce it to the world, find that users never show up, and not know what to do next. As well as not getting any users, the start-up never gets the feedback it needs to improve the product.
So here are 3 tips to get sales right from the start:
- Start with a small audience
Successful start-ups have always started by designing a solution for a small interested audience. For example I recently heard Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, talk about how he made a computer that his friends were really interested in and we all know how Facebook started out for Harvard University Students. In both instances the products were designed with the customer in mind who were really interested in the solutions.
- Be open to feedback
Engaging with customers and getting feedback on your product before an official launch can be hard and demoralizing. Your customers may give some harsh feedback but you will have a product that they will buy at the end of it.
- Understand customer pain point
When designing a product it is very important to visit potential customers to understand their pain points. Your product can then be designed with the customer in mind and you will soon get people buying. You may not have the power to reach a big audience, so it’s more important to choose a very interested one. Your product can then be defined with their help.
Using these 3 tips, sales and customers then become at the heart of your company rather than the product.
So although having a sales led approach may be more painful to begin with, it will make your product a lot easier to sell later, especially when you may choose to hire sales people.