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How to win at sales when you are small
I’ve worked at startups for most of my career, where I’ve always had to compete with companies who were bigger, better known and better resourced than mine.
When you are small, it’s common for buyers to have objections over your feature gaps, scale limitations, lack of traction and so on. Most sellers try to overcome this by campaigning internally for custom features and price breaks or over-promising on service. It’s not a recipe for success.
However, the best sellers realize the root issue is simply that buyers are afraid of doing business with startups in case something goes wrong. The best sellers realize that the key to success is reframing the power dynamic so that the buyer goes from being afraid of doing business with you to being afraid of missing out.
Reframing the dynamic involves 4 things:
1. Focus on customers who truly need your product. Don’t bother trying to convert the tire-kickers, or the laggards. Having a well-defined Ideal Customer Profile and a well-research account list is essential here.
2. Focus on the unique strengths of your product. Unique strengths are built on unique insights, which are built on unique data from your product. When you frame the data as a category or competitive insight, buyers naturally lean in and forget about your feature gaps.
3. Overcome objections by asking why. Most buyer objections are based on a fear of making a mistake or having to do more work. Instead of rushing back to your HQ for help, ask why and then use a pocket story to make the buyer feel more assured.
4. Create urgency by taking the opportunity off the table. Don’t let the sales process drag on. Your time is extremely precious, especially when you work at a small company. While it may seem counter-intuitive at first, nothing accelerates decision making better than telling a buyer that this opportunity may not be for them.
I was lucky to learn this from my boss 20 years ago and have been doing it ever since!