I’ve come to realize that to understand how an early stage B2B Enterprise startup thinks about it sales process there really is a very simple question that provide a key insight: “Can you send me your sales deck?” (or white paper, blogs or whatever).
If the answer is along the lines of “we don’t do sales decks” then that is very telling. (Personally, I’d always start with the sales deck, how else would you know what to build? But that aside) But it is the wrong answer. Why?
Well, for starters it suggests you have not considered how to scale your sales process beyond yourself. I get it – there’s really only you and your cofounder that are selling, and you’ve been working on this for years and so has your co-founder. In fact you started during your PhD and you both know the tech inside-out. You do not have a sales team, let alone a distributed one, so why bother. Still, you should think about how to enable others to “sell”, maybe partners, friends, relations, your network, etc – but also within your customers.
It also means you may not have figured out your customer’s journey and buying process. I understand – you’re super focused on understanding your customer’s requirements, you sell to the C-suite and require face-to-face meetings with the decision makers, to build trust, undsoweiter. But if your customer will spend more than X/year with you, the buying process will extend beyond the meetings you have with them. It will include internal decision making, vendor selection, stakeholder alignment (IT, Legal, Procurement, Marketing, Sales?), budgeting, etc. Your buyer or champion will need something (potentially more than 1 thing) that they can pass on internally to convince the rest of the organization – upwards and downwards. Landing a POC, for example, without this process having taken place means you have razorthin levels support within your customer and the risk of landing in a fringe use case, being “confined” in a corner of the organization (Innovation Department anyone?) and being a keystroke away from losing what felt like a sure shot.
Obviously the case here is pretty specific to a B2B business selling to “Enterprise” but the principle extends beyond this. If you’re selling B2B on a more transactional basis, a key thing to focus on is how customers “drive themselves” trough the funnel with minimal high-touch efforts, and providing the right content at the right time is key. Similar for B2C.
If you are a B2B startup – we’d love to talk. And now you know at least one question you can expect, and the answer I’d be looking for…