You've developed a great new technology. You've invested thousands of hours of work. Now comes the tough part -- selling your product. Many startup founders don't have sales teams to rely on, resulting in dismal sales. But this doesn't have to be the outcome for your venture.
One of the core truths about sales that startups need to understand is the act of selling is not really about pushing products on people but more about solving a problem.
At its best, the process of sales is about helping prospects -- you're trying to improve the customer's current condition.
Need help in the selling department? Here are a four tips to consider:
1. Alter your thought process.
As stated above, you need to pivot your thought process from how to close a deal to what problem you are trying to solve. Before listing off a product's features, you should find out from the prospect what kind of pain points they have. If you can't find a problem your product solves, it's either the wrong market fit, it's not a good product or your sales pitch needs to be tweaked to focus on solving specific problems companies face.
By asking questions to clients, you may discover your solution is less expensive, your customer service is superior or your product makes life easier for your target demographic.
Whatever your problem solving sales pitch might be, make sure you connect your product to the needs of your customer.
2. Always look to add value.
Don't think that once a customer hands over cash for your product, the selling process is complete. All too often, sales people will contact the customer until closing the sale, and then once the deal is done, they hand off the person to the service team. This is a missed opportunity.
Related: How to Find More Customers Now
Check in with your clients on a regular basis and look for ways to keep supporting them, listen to their evolving needs and be ready to answer questions before problems arise. You don't necessarily need to be in selling mode but touching base helps keep the communication channels open. Also, if for some reason your solution is failing to meet their expectations, you need to hear feedback, as you want to improve or solve the situation before it's too late.
3. Empathize with your prospects.
Prospects get called by sales people all the time, and they can tell the difference between a sincere problem solver and an impatient sales person who doesn't really care about their problems. Be a part of the former group and listen to your prospect and address their problems. The better you listen to what they need and not what you want to sell, the better your sales relationships will be.
4. Deliver an appropriate solution.
Prospects know when someone is just trying to sell them something, regardless if it is the right fit or not. Don't be that person. Instead, provide a solution the prospect truly needs, based on their unique circumstances.
Startups are often motivated by a sense of idealism: You're trying to do something better, faster or more efficiently. You're looking to create and innovate. You're bringing something into the world that hasn't been done before. Bring this spirit and passion into your sales conversations with customers.
What other selling tips do you have for entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.