“Businesses don’t fail because of lack of funding; they fail because of lack of hope. Your first few sales will give you hope” said Julian Lloyd Evans (Dennis Publishing) at the last London Launch48 Conference (themed Top Tips for Entrepreneurs).
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs was that you should have in mind your first 20 sales when you start up your business. Don’t think only about your technology but about who you will be talking to in order to sell.
And who should do the selling? Should you just go and find yourself the best salesperson you can afford? No, probably not. You should do the selling in the beginning. It is important that the leader of any business be able to sell the business value. Don’t just bring in some poor business development guy/girl and dump full responsibility for sales on them! Mr Evans suggests, and I agree, that it is a collective responsibility to sell a business’ product.
What approach should you take? Call people; don’t rely purely on emails. (I confess that 70% of the time I tend to email first and follow up with a phone call later). The best time to call is probably before 9am and after 6pm. Cherry pick some emails you’ve sent and then follow up – otherwise your email would’ve been pointless. This approach has worked for Mr Evans over the years; also it’s polite. If you want to get something going, you need that human connection.
And when it is time to hire a salesperson, value them! Find one and nurture them. Don’t call them ‘bus dev’; call them Captains of Industry. Be nice to them; try giving ‘em a hug. But do ask first!