A few popular images of salesmen are a glib talker selling you a rickety car or a tele-caller trying to sell you everything from a home loan to a credit card or a student knocking on your door trying to sell you some home improvement tools to help him meet the shortfall in his tuition fee. On the other hand, an entrepreneur is a geeky individual who forgets his family and friends and sometimes lunch too. How can two such extremities meet!
But a conscious Sales Strategy adopted by your company to make the entrepreneur succeed in sales can make it possible to do better than a trained salesman and can yield great success if thoughtfully planned. To achieve this objective, it is key for the entrepreneur to play to his strengths and not dwell on his weaknesses. Here are a few strategies that will work for the entrepreneur.
1. Emphasise your geekiness. Customers today are a lot more aware and knowledgeable about their requirements and what they want than ever before thanks to the explosion of information. This is where you as the entrepreneur can play to your strength. Who better than you to emphasise where your new CRM System scores over the competition? You can clearly articulate how your software meets the needs of the customers at a level of detail that would assure the customer that you not only have a great product, but also understand his needs. You sometimes understand the customer needs better than himself and are able to propose alternative ways to achieve his objectives within your software, without looking at the competition.
2. Be a partner. A salesman’s bonus is dependent on his sales number each quarter, whereas you the entrepreneur have longer-term interests at a higher priority than short-term goals. Work in a partnership with the customer where an honest admission of current shortcomings of the software will build trust and stand in good stead over the longer term. Promises to work on any shortfalls will have more credibility and customer will trust you to take care of his problems and roadmap. The key message here is that your partnership is not primarily motivated by selling him software, but you’re in it to solve his problems and the sale is incidental to that outcome.
3. Be Visible. Go out and make yourself visible. Be the face of your software, write articles, speak at professional engagements. None of this has a direct sale attached to it but has an important role to play in establishing mindshare in existing and new customers about your CRM Software. This activity is a matter of pride to show your baby to the world and no entrepreneur tires of speaking about his work. Seek and promote your unique positioning in the market. Is it speed of your software? Is it interoperability? Is it platform independence? Is it multilingual support? Whatever be your strength do not hesitate to message it unhesitatingly at every opportunity. Keep the message simple with high recall. Stories sell.
4. Community. Give back to your community. Hold a coding test for college graduates with the prize being the Free CRM software which can be a limited edition of your full suite software. Publicize this event locally and on your website so people know you care for your community. It is entirely possible that these same students will work in future at your customers, or be brand ambassadors for free! You may also get insights into your product development from an unbiased set of fresh minds. This can also be an inexpensive way to identify talent to hire for your company. What more can one ask for?
5. Mix Business and Pleasure. While you are working fully focussed on your work, you realize of course it’s important to take a break. And being the geek, you are, why don’t you take this opportunity to mix some business with pleasure? Travelling on holiday to destinations also affords you an opportunity to meet distant customers with whom your interaction thus far may have been just XL or PPT reports, or phone calls. Having personalized face time with your distant and important customers not only gives them an assurance that they are cared for despite the distance, but also provides you with a first-hand unbiased view of the customer and his problems. You are not encumbered by layers of reporting and superimposed biases on data, but can get valuable insights directly from the paying customer. The payback from this interaction can play into sales and product in many ways – either new features, or support time, or new licensing models.
While enabling the introverted entrepreneur to be part of the sales cycle, notice that none of the above strategies except the last one needs the leopard to change his spots! A very positive image of the entrepreneur who cares and the product that delivers on its promises is created with these sales strategies. It is equally important at all times to keep the commercial, business and market aspects in the overall picture so that continuity and coherence are maintained at all times in the marketplace.