Given that the simple key to success of any startup is your ability to sell what you make, here are five critically important tips as to how startups can really make their sales machines fire on all (or at least more) cylinders.
1. Talk to accomplished sales professionals who know nothing about startups or your product.
My father is in his 80s and spent his professional life as a very successful salesman. He doesn’t know a thing about startups but he has been able to help them sell. How? By sharing his experience and insights into how to sell. Most people don’t appreciate that to be able to sell anything from an idea to an app to a house is to appreciate a remarkably complex mix of skills, motivations, desires, fears, and so much more. My father totally gets that and has taught it to his salespeople for over 60 years. The notion that startups wouldn’t benefit from meeting someone like him because he doesn’t know anything about their industry or product is absurd.
2. Re-examine your value proposition.
A value proposition can be like a greased pig — impractical to catch, too tasty to let escape. Your value proposition is the atomic reason your customer will choose what you’re offering over what someone else is offering. In my experience, startups spend anywhere from 5-10 percent of the time thinking about and testing the elasticity of their value prop than they should. We grab on to the first value prop that seems to fit, we test it lightly and pat ourselves on the back when it flies in an almost imperceptible wind. You need to wrestle your value prop a lot harder than you have been. You should know that it not only flies but is also waterproof and can withstand a hard fall.
3. Talk to new customers.
No. Not more of the same customers. New customers. As someone who has collected watches since I was 13, I’m amazed that the overwhelming majority of companies in the wearables space who are attempting to make watch-like devices today truly have seemingly not a clue about what watch lovers actually want. I wear a watch every day and can assure you that I have yet to see a watch wearables that I’d ever wear. And if you think that in 2014 no one wears watches anymore, there are actually 1.2 billion watches sold each year with the average cost of a Swiss watch (in 2013) at $739. So talk to different prospective customers than you have been. You might find the results to be a huge surprise.
4. Focus on selling fewer things better.
We have this idea that they more things we offer for sale, the more we’ll sell. While we might have excelled at making and selling one things, far too often when we make and sell more, we simply become mediocre at everything. It makes so much more sense to become very, very, VERY good at making and selling one thing, then another, then another. The notion of mastery often eludes us but its importance can’t be overstated. And the more deeply you understand the customer who is buying that one thing (as in wearables makers understanding me as a watch consumer) the more deeply you’ll understand how to sell better what you’ll make in the future.
5. Build a better experience for your customers.
At the core of any purchase is a desire for some thing. Not just the tangible thing (like an app or a watch) but the feeling of having acquired it and the feeling (that needs to follow) of satisfaction in its use. This is a really simple point but it’s no less important than the ones above: if you can continue to build a better experience for your customers, they will not only be increasingly loyal, they will help you attract new customers. And if you take those new customers from their jumping on point with your product and continue from day one to improve their experience, they’ll do the same. It’s an infinite loop and one that can continue to benefit your startup as you iterate.
This article was originally published here.