The Post-10-Customers Startup Sales Strategy

The Marketing Metrics Continuum provides a fra...
Image via Wikipedia

Today I had the opportunity to spend 90 minutes with a startup in town and talk about their go to market strategy. They launched a couple months ago and have signed up 10 paying customers through a combination of referrals and general search marketing. The big problem: sales aren’t going as well as they would like, cash is running low, and they don’t have a sales strategy.

The biggest challenge for technical co-founders is transitioning from being product builders to product sellers.

Here’s the advice I gave:

  • Prepare to be the sales rep, sales engineer, and product manager
  • Charge significantly more than initially thought for the product and listen for people saying the product isn’t worth it (that happens more often than people saying you should charge more)
  • Manage the four main sales metrics: calls, demos, opportunities, and deals won
  • Understand they’ll be ratios like the following: to win one deal it takes three opportunities, to get one opportunity it takes three demos, and to get three demos it takes 150 calls
  • Pick the most promising vertical from the first 10 customers and use to generate a list of 500 applicable companies plus employees
  • Plan for four hours a day of calling on the companies, with the expectation that it’ll take 8-10 calls per company to get the right person on the phone

Employing this strategy will quickly reveal if the right vertical has been selected, and if so, a path to success will be eminent.

What else? What other recommendations do you have for startups working on their sales strategy?

4 thoughts on “The Post-10-Customers Startup Sales Strategy

  1. I don’t know David. That sure sounds like a lot of hard work,. 🙂

    Following the theory of Comparative Value, can the cold calling to set up demos be outsourced?

  2. Outsourcing is worth a shot. There are quite a few companies out there that do performance based payment for appointment setting. The most important thing is the co-founders to be on the phone with prospects and learn from them without playing the telephone game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.