There’s literally hundreds of ways to get customers interested in your product/service, but there’s a few methods that can get you results almost immediately and at no cost as long as you’re willing to do the work and persist.
In our second installment of the Sales For Founders 101 series we focus on three things you can start doing this week to get started with your sales process and generate meeting with prospective customers that are interested in what you have to offer.
We will cover three main topics that we’ve discussed in great detail in previous episode of The Mentors. We encourage you to listen to those episodes (links below) if you want to dive deeper into each specific topic:
- Networking. See,
- Episode 98: How To Pitch Anyone In 30 Seconds
- Cold Emailing. See,
- Episode 15: How to Get the Attention of Important People
- Episode 51: The Email That Got Us The Meeting
- Episode 39: Starting a Revenue Generating Training Business in 3 Weeks
- Cold Calling, where Sergei and I role play how a cold call could potentially go to help you on your first one.
If this is your first time doing any or all of these activities, it will feel unnatural to start. But, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone will develop your skills in ways you’ve never expected. It will help you learn to be okay with failure especially once you understand that a failed cold call or an email that doesn’t get a meeting gets you one step closer to one that does.
00:01 Vadim and Sergei: (sings America from West Side Story)
01:15 Vadim: September 1994 was when we landed on this “land of opportunity.” Itwas nothing short of exciting especially coming from ‘93 Soviet Union.
02:38 Sergei: This is part two of our series on Sales for Founders and today’s episode is focused on the next step after the basic groundwork. We are discussing getting meetings for early startup founders who are doing it for the first time and how to do it relatively cheaply or inexpensively.
03:12 Sergei: There’s a lot of ways to generate interest and business for your company. Marketing is a really deep topic and we can dive into all the various tentacles of the topic in future episodes.
04:02 Vadim: One of the reasons we love talking about sales, is because once you learn it, it is a skill that will generate opportunities for yourself.
04:22 Sergei: This episode is designed to help people get traction more quickly without having to rely on anyone or anything and without having to wait. In other words, this is something that anyone can do right away.
05:10 Sergei: We are always trying to improve our show and give you better value, so we would like to give you, our audience an opportunity to reach out to us at email@example.com to talk to us for about 15-20 minutes and give us feedback on our show.
07:02 Sergei: Now, let’s get right to it. We are talking about sales from the founder’s perspective and how to actually get those opportunities and closed transaction happen for your business idea.
07:13 Vadim: The three things that we are going to talk about in this episode are cold emailing, networking, and cold-calling. We’re saving cold-calling for last because Sergei and I are going to do a role-play exercise to give you an idea of what actual cold-call sounds like.
07:45 Sergei: Let’s talk about the first few things that you can do, in terms of sales. These are the low-hanging fruits.
It’s easier to build momentum from something that’s easier to do.
08:01 Sergei: The first best way to test your idea and move forward is to reach out to your inner circle and to people who are in the same industry, sector or type of company that you would like to tap for your idea or product.
08:15 Sergei: You are not asking your family and friends to buy something from you. You just need to ask them for an introduction to others to expand your connections and get you near to the industry you like to tap. They are the most likely to be able to take a chance on repetitional risk for you and introduce you to somebody that they know.
08:45 Vadim: The founders that we were able to interview on this show had a consensus when we ask them how they got their first deals. Almost always it is through personal contact or somebody that is on two-degrees of separation away. Quite frankly, this is the smart thing to do and gives you a great advantage early on.
Startups are all about de-risking, as quickly as possible, the opportunity that you’re going after. Any competitive advantage that you have early on, you should use.
09:46 Vadim: Let’s say, you don’t really know anyone. The best way to fix that is to show up to events and gatherings where the type of people, you are looking to connect is and get to know people.
10:55 Sergei: Some are paid events and can be really expensive like trade shows and it’s not really recommended if you’re just starting up, with some exceptions. Our advice is to look out for smaller events. You can easily look up on meetup.com, eventbrite.com or Facebook events.
12:35 Sergei: If you’re going to events with a lot of focused-industry people, make sure you bring an impressive prototype that you could share or something about you that will make them want to follow up with you. Come prepared with something specific that could entice them to get a meeting afterward.
13:22 Vadim: When you go to these events, you have to make the approach, come up to people and get comfortable building those relationships.
13:34 Vadim: If you want more specific advice on how to have a compelling conversation and communicate value, check out our episode#98 on How to Pitch Anyone in 30 seconds.
Once you made a connection, follow up right after the meeting and continue to follow up until the next step. Don’t give up too quickly. If you already did the difficult work of meeting somebody, you can also do the difficult work of following through.
14:45 Sergei: Now we’re going to talk about cold approaches for both emails and phone calls that will get people to respond to you and getting those meetings that will result in a sale.
14:50 Vadim: Again, if you want to learn more about these topics, you can check out our past episodes: Ep.#15 How to Get the Attention of Important People, Ep.#51 The Email That Got Us The Meeting, and Ep#39 Starting a Revenue Generating Training Business in 3 Weeks. It will give you a deeper analysis of the subjects better than we can tackle in this single episode.
16:04 Sergei: Quick breakdown on how to send effective emails, first of all, don’t forget the subject line. It’s very important that it will get the people to open the email. Make sure it’s compelling, doesn’t sound like spam or too vague. Craft something that will stir their curiosity, or provide value or utility in the subject alone.
18:20 Vadim: Don’t try to be clickbaity or pull the rug from somebody because people can see through the BS. Be sincere but keep in mind that at the same time, your goal in the subject line is only to get the email opened.
18:43 Sergei: A few things you have to remember in the body of the email. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving the email. Make them curious, excited or impressed and build credibility. But more importantly, think about what is going to be valuable to them, or what are you solving for them.
In crafting the body of a cold email pitch, remember that it is not about you or the features of your product. It’s about how you can solve their problems uniquely.
19:40 Vadim: There was a study that people who use “I” more in their email, than “You” get lesser responses. People care about themselves. It’s called WIIFMs. (What’s in it for me?) So put yourself in their shoes.
20:04: Vadim: Remember that you are not selling in this email. You’re simply trying to pique curiosity and get that meeting. That’s your only goal.
20:09 Vadim: The main takeaway in sending cold emails is to err on the side of keeping this as brief as possible and be direct. Go for the asks relatively quickly and give them a way to respond easily.
In sending cold emails, make sure you ask only one thing from them and not ten things. Help them avoid decision paralysis and then tell them exactly how to act in order to engage with you.
21:32 Vadim: Now, if you don’t like waiting to generate interest and looking for something you can do today, you have to make the cold calls. Nothing can give you results faster than actually connecting with somebody on the phone or live. So, it’s worth to try.
23:36 Vadim: As promised, we are now going to role play cold calling. This is spontaneous and we didn’t prepare anything beforehand other than the setting. Sergei will act as a lawyer or esquire who is also a small business owner and I will play as the caller that sells SEO marketing tools.
24:07 – 27:01: COLD-CALLING ROLEPLAY (We would advise that you grab your headset for this one.)
27:05 Vadim: So I got the demo and there are so many ways I could mess that up but practice makes progress.
27:25 Sergei: The demo was successfully scheduled so let’s dissect that. First, there was no “hi”, “how are you doing?”, basically things that are empty and not adding value. You have to immediately offer value and give out the context.
27:54 Vadim: Before I said my name I confirmed that the person I was calling was the person I am trying to reach. Note that if there are zero hints of value in those 15 seconds, you’re probably going to lose them.
28:24 Sergei: The other thing that was crafty in that cold call even though I was trying to get off the phone is that I was hooked by Vadim offering some credibility.
For cold-calling remember these three things: credibility, value and the almighty fear of missing out. At the end of the day, business owners want to be competitive so keep your pitch relevant.
29:33 Vadim: Make sure that you understand their business because that is going to come out. People can tell if you’re not sincere.
29:50 Sergei: Another thing that all the great salesman would know is to ask specific questions so you could dig deeper and have the potential client reveal more information that will help progress the conversation.
31:00 Sergei: We’re not trying to discount how difficult it is to sound natural balancing all these things but the more you do it and practice it, the better your delivery is going to be.
31:47 Vadim: That’s it for this episode. Next show we’ll talk about how to actually close the deal.