Don’t let your passion for a new idea and technology convince you that the idea alone will ensure business success.
Based on my experience working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, selling yourself and your idea to customers, as well as investors, is always a critical element required for progress.
Of course, it also helps to have a great plan and a great team to implement your idea.
If you don’t currently feel that selling is your strong suit or even your interest, don’t be discouraged.
Maybe it is time to find a co-founder who has that skill and interest, to complement your technical acumen, and the two of you can make a winning team, just like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, when they started Microsoft.
Running a business is NOT a solo operation anyway.
A parallel alternative is for you to ramp up your selling skills, which we all need to do from time to time.
Sales is not rocket science, so anyone can learn and improve their impact, without any special genes, birthright, or high intelligence.
All you have to do is focus on your customer’s perspective of your offering, and learn from the lessons of sales professionals ahead of you:
1. Position your solution around solving a real customer problem.
Your solution may be great technology, but customers don’t buy technology unless it directly fills a need that they have.
Selling is simply matching what you have against they need in a way that other alternatives and competitors can’t. Position your team and process the same way.
2. Select a price commensurate with customer perceived value.
Your perception of value and your costs should never be part of the selling process.
Customers set value based on the size of their pain, and similar alternatives available from competitors.
Of course, “free” always sound attractive, but it’s hard to build a business with no revenue.
3. Every customer sale has to result in a win-win situation.
This simply means that both you and the customer have to feel good about the transaction – their need is satisfied, and your business grows.
Some entrepreneurs seem to be out to “kill their prey,” or over-sell their value, resulting in a lack of customer retention, and few positive referrals.
4. Spend time and resources working with the right customers.
Broadcasting your message to anyone and everyone is not an effective sales approach.
Properly identifying your target audience and demographics is the key to success. In the same context, it’s important to disconnect from low-profit or abusive customers who drain your resources.
5. Build a positive and attractive personal and company image.
People buy from companies and people they like. Through social media and customer interactions, you must convince customers that your values and culture match theirs.
It helps to show your association with a “higher purpose,” such as helping the environment or a social cause.
6. Constantly poll for opportunities to delight your customers.
Don’t wait for a customer crisis to identify improvement requirements.
In every new business, problems will occur, so you must be proactive is listening to feedback, and responding to reviews.
You must be always thinking of promotions, discounts, and perks for happy customers.
7. Emphasize “pull” marketing rather than “push” marketing.
Telling isn’t selling.
If you focus on delivering value to customers and society, more customers will be pulled to buy from you. These days, this is easier than ever to do by being responsive to social media requests, building “how to” videos, and providing on-line chat sessions via your website.
8. Highlight existing customer success stories.
Every delighted customer enjoys being spotlighted, and every potential customer is looking to follow someone else’s successful experience. This leads to repeat sales to customers, and well as advocates who tell all their friends about a positive experience.
Let your customers be your best salespeople.
Turning an idea into a business does benefit from passion and technology, but it also requires good marketing and sales. You really can’t have either side of this equation without the other.
The good news is that you can build a team to help you get the required results, as well as enhance your personal capabilities. It’s time to start today to move your great idea to a business success.
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