Especially when it comes to selling, founders tend to make typical mistakes which could be avoided.
The solution: CSO FOR RENT.
With their accumulated experience, interim managers build powerful sales organisations. In this way, the most common mistakes made by founders in B2B sales can be avoided.
Unicorn or pipe burst?
Startups have a number of advantages over traditional companies. They are often more agile, more dynamic, faster. And with strong investors behind them, they are often more capable of taking action. There is only one area where startups generally underperform: Sales. Why is that? Many founders have a background in programming, design or hardware. They are particularly good at developing products and services. But this product focus is at the expense of customer focus. And that’s what going to market is all about. No matter how good the product is, if it doesn’t reach the target audience, potential unicorns quickly turn into expensive duds.
7 TYPICAL SALES MISTAKES IN B2B START-UPS
I have worked with a number of start-ups and have seen how they do sales. There were certain sales mistakes that ran like a pattern through the young companies, regardless of the industry.
The seven most common mistakes:
1. Starting with too large of a market segment
If you target too many different customers from the outset, you will struggle to find a good product or market fit, as well as customers. In order to build a clear brand, B2B start-ups should formulate their offer as precisely as possible and also deliberately exclude potential customer groups – at least for the time being. In this way, the product and brand establish themselves in the market with a clear profile. A specific presence is more likely to be remembered by customers than a generic full-service offering for everyone.
2. Developing products without customer feedback
US entrepreneur Steve Blank aptly says: “No business plan survives the first customer contact – get out of the building and talk to your customers!” Anyone who retreats into their quiet cubicle during product development, instead of involving customers in co-creation from the outset, is wasting valuable time. Customer feedback in the development process is essential because it makes customers feel that they are being taken seriously and that they are getting a product that is tailored to their needs.
3. Selling yourself short
The pricing mechanism is complex and often underestimated when it comes to adding value to a transaction. But startups that differentiate themselves from the competition on price alone are quickly seen as junk. Where is the direct customer value? What is there to buy that the competition does not offer? Some B2B customers are put off by high prices; after all, they are interested in a solution that suits them.
4. Confusing pilots with customer orders.
In the B2B sector, pilot projects are common – after all, the potential buyer wants to test the product before making a large investment. However, start-ups often have the misconception that the “pig in a poke” is already in the pilot project. Far from it! The well-known consequence is “death by 1,000 pilots”. This is another reason why regular feedback is important: Why doesn’t the customer decide in favour of the product after the pilot? What was the deciding factor? And how can we avoid this?
5. Rigid sales processes
Valuable lessons are missed by standardising the sales process too early. Sales can be open and willing to experiment, try new approaches and learn from mistakes. Again, it is important to talk directly to customers. After all, it is from customers that we learn the most about our product.
6. Underestimating the human growth factor
Building a successful sales organisation is complex. Departments grow, new levels of management are created, structures, processes and procedures change. Often founders get caught up in micromanaging rather than handing over the helm and responsibility. It is advisable to bring in support at this critical juncture. At a certain level of complexity, first-hand experience is most valuable.
7. Focusing too much on acquiring new customers
More customers mean more revenue, so startups often want to grow their customer base quickly. Many founders neglect the market segment whose doors are already wide open to their offerings: satisfied existing customers. According to a meta-study by US consultancy Invesp, existing customers have a 60-70% chance of buying. New customers, on the other hand, are only 5 to 20 percent likely to buy.
Startups are almost unbeatable when it comes to innovation and creativity in product development.
They invest a lot of effort and resources in designing world-class products or services.
However, many do not have a clear customer-centric sales strategy based on customer feedback and co-creation.
The result is sales failure and, in the worst case, loss of market share for the entire business model.
Typical mistakes can be avoided with a solidly built sales organisation.
External interim managers with extensive sales and go-to-market experience can help: CSO FOR RENT. They coach the founders or join the company for a short period of time. They set up the necessary sales structures – and then leave when the project has been successfully completed. They often continue to support the start-up as an active C-level coach.
As a result, start-ups have better access to customers, can sell their products more quickly and thus achieve scalable growth.
I SUPPORT YOU ON THE WAY TO YOUR SUCCESS
I am a strategist, an innovator, an unconventional thinker, a mover and shaker and therefore I do the right things sooner and better.
And with pleasure also for you.
Together we can discover new market opportunities, steer product branding into the right direction, understand your customers better – and stand out from the competition with tailor-made products for your target group. All this leads to more customer satisfaction, greater customer lifetime value and more sales potential.
Can you afford not to go for it?