Although focusing on the task at hand is important, it’s equally vital to develop a sales strategy that helps you structure future growth. Otherwise you risk leaving your business exposed to problems that can prove debilitating. Planning ahead will help you realise potential issues and bottlenecks before they arise, and enable you to avoid them altogether.
But not all sales growth strategies are created equal, and you need to give some thought to what’s right for your business, backed up by constant evaluation and iteration. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Below are some of the key things to consider.
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1. Partner with your first customer
Building a great product that people actually want sounds simple but it’s surprising how many people get it wrong, so use your first customer to test your assumptions about what you’ve made and why people will buy it.
At this stage you may be the only one handling sales, so your first customer needs to be someone who you can work with as a partner as much as a client. Together, you can build a product that can scale. Expect to make up to 500 calls to get to this point; it is a major stepping stone for your business.
Before even trying to sell, try to understand your potential customer’s industry and business inside out. Spend time with them, watch how they work, demonstrate your product’s value – i.e. how it helps them improve efficiency, reduce costs or increase revenue. If you find your product is not quite ready, it’s not the end of the world. Work in partnership with your first customer to improve it, iterating the product until they are ready to actually pay for it.
2. Achieve product/market fit
Once you’re sure you’ve nailed the product it can be tempting to go after an entire market with a multi-billion dollar value, i.e. If I could sell to just one per cent of the population of China… This may look great on paper to inexperienced entrepreneurs and investors, but is entirely impractical and most likely a poor use of your limited resources.
The best entrepreneurs approach their market with laser focus and build something that works amazingly well for a niche segment, rather than catering badly to everyone. Achieving product/market fit is important before you spend money attempting to scale the business and expand its sales.
Customers that love your product will play a key role as advocates to help you scale, so spend time ensuring you’re giving them exactly what they need as this will be incredibly beneficial in the long term.
Continue reading on page two to understanding initial scale, and discover a key sequence to build and refine.
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