So you have a killer product and you are spending all of your time networking and focusing on other parts of the business and you need help with sales. You have tried getting a friend to help you, reading sales blogs online, and maybe even hired someone and it is still not working…
Here are 3 common mistakes startups make when they think about sales.
Focus on cost, not quality
There are plenty of outsourced sales companies around the world. Many of them do top notch work and others are not so great...just like any industry. Often business owners (and more often entrepreneurs) go for the cheaper option. Maybe you have thought: “I could pay a salesperson $70K a year or I could hire this person from (insert other country here) for $100/month. That’s a no brainer!”
It is very likely that the cheaper option is not nearly as qualified as the sales person and what is more valuable, paying $70K to get $300,000 in sales or paying $100/month for $1,000 in sales?
On top of hiring a qualified salesperson to your team, you can hire external sales companies to assist you through selling your product. I know what you are thinking, why would I spend that much money for someone who isn’t working for me full-time? Well… it can be exponentially more beneficial to hire a team of people to work on selling your product/service than to hire one person who does it all. Think about it, if you hire a salesperson to work 40 hrs/week or you hire a team of 5 to work 10 hrs/week, you are actually getting more out of the sales team than you are from one person.
Moral of the story is that your sales drive your business, so don’t cheap out on them. Hiring someone who can get the job done well will repay itself 10 fold.
Are you part of the sales process?
So let’s say you decided to hire the expensive sales company to do sales for you. You think: “this is great, now I don’t have to worry about sales because they are doing it for me.” While this is partially true, hiring an external sales company doesn’t mean you are hands-off now. Yes, it is true that they know how to sell better than you (at least hopefully), but there is quite a lot of feedback that you get from a proper sales process. Let’s pretend you are selling a new app to businesses to help them be more productive. You begin selling to people and you hear that they don’t want to buy it because...X. You report on that and adjust either your product or strategy. This requires an active input from you (the owner of the business) and your sales team. Remember you are ultimately the expert in your business so you can help them with their process.
And lastly, remember that sales is about relationships. Your external sales team will be building relationships with potential customers and will update you on those relationships for you to adjust.
“I need sales right now”
I will admit, we all get this feeling. When your sales determine how much you can eat tonight, it can be crucial to get sales as fast as you can! I get it, but sales is a process. When you hire a sales company they need to understand the market and customers before they can start selling. Every market has unique differences that can be a make or break for your future sales. This takes time to uncover what is really going on in the industry. Then they will create a plan of attack and map out the key contacts and how to get introduced to key people. Then they will start executing on the plan and sales will start. All this to say that you should be patient with the sales process (while you/they work fast). It doesn’t mean you can be lazy, it just means that there is a bit of a process that takes place to increase your sales curve once it starts.
So now that you know 3 of the reasons you may not be getting the results you want from your external sales team… what is the next step?
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