Tech startups often face unique challenges as part of the sales process. No matter how eager you might be to introduce your product to the market, you need to be prepared for some common objections and roadblocks that often confront those who are trying to sell new technology solutions to businesses.
Before you pick up the phone and start making sales calls, make sure you have spent some time figuring out how to address the following concerns:
1. Demonstrate that you have staying power: Businesses are often reluctant to take risks on new technologies. One of the biggest objections that your prospects might have is, “Will you still be around to service this solution and help us in a year from now?” This is an especially relevant concern at bigger companies, which often have longer time horizons for buying and implementing new technologies.
If your company is brand new, be prepared to alleviate your clients’ concerns by talking about the experience level of your management team, your well-connected board of directors, and any major investors who have been big players in the industry for a long time. Be ready for objections on the phone, show empathy for the customer’s concerns, and have answers ready.
For example, be prepared to say things like, “I completely understand why you might feel that way. Here is what makes our company different from other startups: we have an exceptionally experienced management team and a board of directors that have been part of numerous successful startups which are still around years later.”
2. Demonstrate problems that your product fixes: One of the biggest sales pitfalls that many startups and tech companies face is focusing too much on “features” of their solution and not talking clearly enough about “benefits.” Remember the old saying about the first question your prospect asks: “What’s in it for me?” You need to very quickly show your customer how your solution can save them time, save them money (or make money), or help them avoid hassle.
Customers don’t care about technical specs and overly detailed descriptions of product features when first hearing about your product. Instead, before you pick up the phone for your first sales call, think of a short list of the top 3 problems that your solution helps solve, and be ready to easily describe how it benefits the customer.
3. Hone your elevator pitch: On every sales call, the decision maker spends only 10 seconds deciding whether or not to hang up. Be prepared to say something that grabs their attention immediately. It’s especially helpful if you can mention the name of someone who referred you to the decision maker. For example, you could say, “Hi, Bob Jones in manufacturing gave me your name. We develop web-based dashboards that allow managers to monitor their manufacturing operations in real-time from a web-browser on a 24/7 basis”
4. Be ready for questions: You spent countless hours developing your product, now spend some time getting ready to sell it. Think of the most likely 20 questions you may get asked, and write some short scripts for how to respond.
5. Know who your decision maker truly is: This is not always obvious. Just because your solution involves technology doesn’t mean you need to speak with the CIO. Sometimes, when you’re talking to people at the department level, the person on the phone might feel that your solution is a threat to their department. In this case, your best approach is through the business side that would benefit from your solution.
6. Practice: Before you pick up the phone, spend time rehearsing your elevator pitch, reviewing your responses to objections, and planning how to respond to various scenarios that might come up on the call.
Many startup company founders and small technology company CEOs are passionate about their companies, but passion is not enough to guarantee sales success. Plan, research, and anticipate what your prospective customers are going to say. Empathize with their concerns and fears. Sales is ultimately about problem solving, and many of the best tech entrepreneurs are problem solvers at heart.