The stepchild of many startups: sales
Founders often have to do a thousand things at the same time. But without customers, even the most revolutionary century product sells only with difficulty. And despite this undeniable fact, the development of an appropriate distribution structure is not high on the agenda for most startups.
A fatal mistake!
As well as being an important component of customer acquisition, sales is actively driving product development: nothing is better than feedback from the customer to present a product that meets demand. However, since our lives are more and more often on the World Wide Web, it is no longer sufficient to advertise the benefits of creation to the customer – they are usually already well informed. How can startups still survive in these digital times – and even take their business to the next level with Sales 4.0?
Sales from the beginning – even at startups!
Many startups focus on the idea. Whether it’s a self-cooking coffee mug, fast food made from beetles or self-learning software – everything revolves around function, technology and design. The result should be perfect before even a single customer gets to see it. That is understandable – but in most cases not effective. Product development can only benefit from customer feedback, after all, nothing is said about constructive feedback from the source. For founders, successful sales are therefore a challenge that should not be underestimated and should be addressed early on – ideally even before the product is completed. Start-ups who do not actively involve their first customers in the development process, miss the opportunity to learn from mistakes and to develop solution ideas that are market-oriented and thus optimally tailored to old and new customers.
In times of sales 4.0, however, it is no longer sufficient to tell the customer why he should buy exactly this product. He already knows the offer, the competition, their prices, delivery times and the differences. Now it is important to influence the purchase decision for your own benefit. However, distributors have less and less room for maneuver – which then has to be used as well as possible.
Sales 4.0: Customer-oriented sales is the key!
When startup and customer meet, the latter is often already well informed. Therefore, communication in Sales and Distribution has to be tailored to each individual customer: How exactly does this customer benefit from the product in his or her specific situation? What added value does it offer him or his company? How can it strengthen its standing within the company? In addition, B2B decision-makers often need to convince several decision-makers. Then it pays to not only have collected as much information about the company as possible, but also about the various contact persons and to adapt your own communication to each individual.
The fact is, consulting and sales are increasingly merging under the pressure of a global market with fierce competition, which is increasingly shifting to the Internet. The question that even the best salesperson now has to ask is: Why does our product fit perfectly with this customer?
For this he must know his counterpart and explore his needs and desires. Professional sales therefore lives from the systematic collection of all available customer information and the networking of this customer-related information. Digital solutions not only help in organizing information, but also in collecting relevant data. This accumulated knowledge can then be sorted, structured and processed using databases and CRM systems.
Data, data, data – but what to do with it?
For startups as well as for the old economy the following applies: Only a well-founded and prepared database paves the way to a successful sales strategy 4.0 – Big Data was the last big thing, Smart Data is the upcoming one. Not the sheer mass is crucial, but the quality of the data and to what extent they are even suitable to answer the specific questions of the sales.
Meanwhile, sales can access a variety of tools that simplify the collection and structuring of customer information. Millions of websites and social media channels are automatically searched and compared. This can be helpful, for example, when it comes to recruiting new customers – especially when it comes to narrowing down the target group and finding out which companies are similar to the existing ones and thus potentially potential new customers.
It is also worthwhile for startups to have a critical look at their own internet presence. Who is staying on the company website for how long? Are there any target groups that sales has not even thought of? Which products are clicked on frequently in the online shop, but not sold – and why could that be? Evaluation tools can answer these questions as part of web monitoring and thus provide important data for customer acquisition, shop optimization or existing customer care. And with a mature strategy, startups celebrate sustainable sales success.