There are numerous benefits included in the early stages of founding a company. You have a sharp sense of purpose and are very engaged in your business, which is known as a business insurgency. There is also a love for detail known as front line obsession, as well as personal responsibility for risks and costs.
However, in these stages, founders also face many challenges that can be hard to overcome. Perfecting their sales ability and building the sales process both usually bring hardships until those skills are perfected.
To help you solve these issues and grow as a startup founder, we talked to Scott Cowley, who has helped countless companies improve their sales process, build the right teams, and see significant growth. His nickname, The Sales Mastermind, is rightfully deserved as he is one of the best in the game.
We covered two main topics:
- Lead generation
- Operations and processes
The first question everyone wants to be answered is how to get more leads. Lead generation is essential for your business because it helps you engage the right potential customers and generate brand awareness. With the right leads, you will earn a profit much more easily.
Most businesses struggle with this, and 61% of marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads. Luckily, Scott has the answers to everything you need to know about lead generation.
Where do I get *more* leads?
This is something everyone wants to know, as most early-stage founders are focusing on the number of leads, thinking that will bring them more success. However, this is wrong straight off the bat because they need to focus on the quality of the leads instead.
To acquire high-quality leads, you need to focus on two things
- Ideal customer profiles. Find the companies you really want to work with, those which would be valued customers. Once you find them, get in contact and work hard to be noticed by them.
- Buying personas. This is about the people within that company, the individuals that make the company’s core, the decision-makers. Get to know them, find out where they spend time online, and how to reach them. This is important for a very simple reason – once you get to know the individuals, you will know the company as well.
When you find the people who seem like the ideal fit, start communicating with them. These conversations need to be detailed and deep enough to slowly start forming bonds with your leads, and over time partnerships as well.
Partnerships are a valuable addition to your circle of acquaintances, the people who service the same audience as you but aren’t your direct competition. With partnerships, you can scale a business and improve lead generation. This type of collaboration can be very beneficial for both parties.
What should my outbound emails say?
When it comes to the type of email you need to send to your leads, outbound triumphs over inbound for one simple reason. Inbound marketing campaigns work on the “You get what you get” principle, but outbound emails will get you what you went after.
This is where the ideal customer profile and buyer persona really come into play and show their relevance. Think about them when you’re creating your campaign that needs to be very value-driven and discover more about your leads and potential future customers.
This is very important at all stages of your business, but especially when you’re just starting out and trying to build your customer base. The main thing you need to find out about your leads in your email campaign is if they have a pain point that your solution can help them overcome.
Continue communication with those who have this pain point, but weed out the contacts who you can’t serve, this way you will only keep the valuable ones – those who actually need your service. So find people who will not only like your service but want it and are willing to pay a price for it.
A lot of businesses are reluctant to get rid of leads like this, especially in the early stages. But if you want to be successful in the long run, you can’t keep the people who won’t buy your products around.
Can I do an outbound campaign with Mailchimp/Convertkit/Active Campaign or any other email marketing tool?
Many people also wonder about using email marketing tools in their outbound email marketing campaigns. It is a possibility, but you need to be careful about the tool you end up using because some of them weren’t built for this purpose. So do your research and find one that fits your needs.
Also, you need to be careful about spamming people because you don’t want to lose your list of leads or harm your main domain. Therefore, never send outbound cold emails from your main domain, but try doing that from your Gmail or Outlook account.
Here’s a video overview of four tools you can use for your outbound campaigns:
Operations and processes
In the early stages of startups, there are a few aspects of operations and processes that need to be closely monitored and improved whenever possible so you can reach your desired goal.
The main purpose of this is to make your job easier, be more efficient, but also to reach the right leads for your business.
What should my pipeline stages look like?
- The first thing you need to do is break the pipeline down into two distinct areas. You can do this with any CRM, or even an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets. When you do this, you have a record of leads where you keep information such as their name, email address, phone number, and company name.
- This record gives you a better insight into what kind of leads you have, and from there, you can divide them into three different categories.
- Qualified leads. These leads don’t necessarily need to be your ideal customers, they need to be someone you can actually sell your products to.
- Disqualified leads. If there’s absolutely no chance you could ever sell to a lead for whatever reason, they are classified as a disqualified lead and you cross them off your list.
- Unqualified leads. If you have a random list of leads who you don’t know anything about, treat them as unqualified leads until you learn more about them so you can sort them into one of the above two categories.
- Next, you pass on to the opportunities stage, where the deal is discovered. Here, you speak to your lead and create a possibility of making a sale within the next three to six months. While conversion does sit at the end of the pipeline, you need to go through a few stages before you close the deal.
- The next stage is to either have or book a conversation with a client. After this conversation, there comes the stage where you’re awaiting their decision. Alternatively, if the business isn’t too complex, it’s the stage where you’ve either won or lost the business.
- If you have won the business but the deal won’t be closed for some time, there is a special stage called “nurture”. Since there is a possibility to lose the business in this stage, move the lead down the pipeline slowly by investing time in communication with that person and keeping in touch with them.
How do I move from a conversation held to a decision?
There will be times when some leads aren’t ready to make a deal to purchase a product from you, which is actually a very common occurrence and nothing to worry about. Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision, but you need to move from the conversation held to an actual decision.
On some occasions, it’s just as easy as asking for their business. Asking can bring you much further than you probably think, as long as you’re polite and respectful. However, there will also be times when the situation is more complex, so it will take more time and effort, rather than a single conversation.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the person you’re talking to actually is the one you should be having a conversation with. That is to say, you need to talk to people who are in a position to make the purchasing decision. Always check if that person has the authority, the budget, and the need for your product.
If the person you’re communicating with meets all the necessary criteria, it’s time to ask yourself whether you’re pushing enough for this conversion. And not just that, you also need to consider if you’re pushing them toward a yes or a no.
Of course, everyone strives to get a yes. After all, that’s why you’re in this business – to get the yes and make a profit.
But at the end of the day, hearing no is still better than not hearing anything because it allows you to cross one lead off your list and think about how you can improve your tactics.
How should I use automation?
Automation is something a lot of founders think of at the early stages of their careers, mostly because they see it as a way to make their jobs much easier. It does make sense in a way, since automating particular processes is a cheaper solution and doesn’t require completing tasks manually.
However, when you really think about it, you’ll see that automation at the very beginning isn’t as smart of an idea as it is later on. You shouldn’t automate until you figure out all the ropes, what your customers want from you, and how you can manage that.
If you start automating when you’re just building your process, all you’re doing is optimizing a process that you still don’t know how it works. And at the end of the day, you don’t know if it will work and bring you profit.
The best thing is to wait until you have a significant number of satisfied clients, and then look at your pipeline closely to see which areas will benefit from automation. Even though some people find this fact hard to hear, especially those who prefer the technical side of their business, it’s something they need to accept.
There’s no doubt that automation should be one of the goals and that it will make your business more efficient, but it’s not a good decision to rush into it. Until you figure out which steps you can automate the whole way through, test out what you can do manually and what might need some help.
The bottom line is that you need to test everything out. If something doesn’t scale, keep doing it manually, but if you believe it can be scaled, then automate the process. Sometimes it’s not even necessary to automate the entire process, just some parts of it. After all, keep in mind that there is such a thing as too much automation.
Where can you find out more about Scott and what he does?
If you want to learn more about our expert, make sure to check out Scott’s LinkedIn profile.
He has numerous clever insights to share with you and is always happy to help a company founder who is looking to improve their business.
If you have any questions or need more advice, feel free to contact him.
Anyone who is currently running an early-stage startup is probably wondering whether they could be doing something differently and how they can improve.
When it comes to leads, which are on everyone’s minds, don’t forget to aim for quality and not just quantity.
Perfect your outbound emails, weed out the leads that aren’t as promising as you believed at first, and learn how to take both yes and no as an answer.
Remember that your conversations with customers might be prolonged at times, but you will learn how to deal with those better and better as time goes by. Just take your time and don’t rush into automation until your business is ready.
If you need a consistent stream of high-quality targeted leads, it’s best to talk to experts.
Contact TaskDrive today, and we will be happy to help with our lead generation service.