Question: What's one common sales mistake early-stage startups are guilty of making?
Forgetting Nothing Comes Easily
"I found it extremely easy and overly temping to go fishing at the bottom of the barrel. I would spend a tremendous amount of time and energy working outside of our business plan trying to pick the low-hanging fruit. The thing was, this abundance of fruit wasn't low-hanging. It was overly ripe, half eaten and lying on the floor. I had to learn the hard way that nothing worth having comes easily."
Undervaluing a Product or Service
"One of the biggest mistakes that I see most companies make when they first enter the marketplace is undervaluing their product or service. They try to gain market share by selling at below-market prices, rather than creating additional value. Start by creating a unique selling point or value proposition that allows you to sell at a higher price and separates you from the competition."
"In the early months of a new business when sales are critical to keep your business afloat, I often see sales people/owners who become desperate, and it shines through in their sales process. You can feel it when a sales person is being genuine and looking out for your best interest, as well as the opposite. Don't be the latter! "
Selling the Features, Not the Benefits
"When you live and breathe a startup, it is very difficult to pull yourself out of the details and look beyond the product to its benefits. A common mistake is to sell the features because they are your pride and joy when, actually, the customer needs to be sold on the benefits."
"Sometimes we try to please everyone. You as an entrepreneur have to know the clients you should hire and the ones to fire. The client who wastes too much of your time or resources won't care if your business is shut down or that your bank account has a zero balance. Take care of those who provide you longevity in the business world. "
Rushing to Market
"One of the most common mistakes is going to market too early. You must have product/market fit before you start distribution and sales. Get your churn/retention rates in check, get your acquisition channels validated, and then -- and only then -- start investing further in user acquisition and sales."
Forgetting Customer Needs
"A lot of early-stage startups are so eager to hit the ground running that they get caught up promoting the features of the product and don't focus on finding a solution to their customers' needs. People have a "me, me, me" mentality, so you have to speak in terms of their best interests and find a way to align the benefits of your product as a viable solution to help their problem. "
Not Embracing Potential Partners
"I hated being called a client or vendor. It's not warm, friendly or inspiring to think that we work together and you still feel that way. I've learned that you need to embrace potential partners as you will be hopefully working together for a long time. And if you do work together, you better like each other, so work very hard at it and maybe hug them when you see them."
Blasting Customers With the Same Message
"Not all customers are created equal. Early-stage startups sometimes make the mistake of blasting all customers with the same message. The truth is that email subscribers fall into distinct categories: interested, engaged or lapsed customers. Each category and each customer needs a separate email communication to convert to sales. "
Not Clarifying What You Offer
"A lot of startups are not 100 percent clear when explaining their new products/businesses and exactly what problems or needs they solve. Sales is all about getting others to see a problem or a need and explaining how you solve that for them. Use everyday words to explain your product/business, and don't use tech words such as "error," "404," etc."
Assuming You Understand What Customers Really Want
"So many startups assume that their customers want product A when it would be much better to build product B. These are very closely related of course, but the startup could learn so much by simply asking 10 customers to outline the exact product they would want to buy (without any leading questions). This is what the lean methodology outlines. It's best to interview customers before you build."