8 Reasons Sales Are a Problem for Your Startup

Great startups don’t need to sell. They sell themselves, right?

Startups almost always fail, and we know that going into starting a new business. But when launching a new company, we often tell ourselves and others that we have something truly unique that our customers will love–something that may even sell itself.

The truth is that most of our businesses will fail, and in my experience, failure is more likely to come from not being able to sell a great product or service rather than not being able to build an attractive product.

Don’t go into starting any business believing that it will sell itself. It’s possible, but extremely rare. For that to happen successfully, you need to create the perfect fit in an industry and with a product where new products and services spread quickly (social media apps, video games, etc.). Once you understand that your startup won’t sell itself, you can begin to see the giant mountain in front of you that needs to be climbed and properly plan for how to conquer it. And make no mistake about it, selling your products and services as a startup is a mountain to climb, and here are eight reasons why:

 

Sales Is Treated Like a Side Project

Sales is a necessary evil in business, but usually not a core strength for most founders. It’s set aside and seen as something that the company will deal with when the founding team feels like they’re ready to start selling. Instead of preparing to sell, which should begin at the very start of the business, all time, effort, and money is usually put into building and testing a great product. And then the product is built and the momentum stops. Treating sales like a side project will make earning revenue a side project instead of a core function of a business. And as you well know, making money is kind of important to the livelihood of any business.

 

No Sales Team

Imagine starting the next Facebook without a programmer. Or the next great fast-casual restaurant chain without a chef. Unless your company will completely rely on funds from investors, one of the core functions of your business, and the most important one since it will keep you alive, is sales. To stay in business, you need money. To get money, you have to sell. To sell, you need experienced sales people with an interest in selling what your business has to offer. Don’t expect a summer intern or a technical founder to turn into an effective salesperson overnight.

 

No Strategy or Training

Sales should be approached in a similar way to building a product. You need to set goals, research, work with mentors, create a plan and strategy, and execute. Once you find what works for your startup when it comes to sales, create a training program to help bring on additional salespeople to scale quickly.

 

Early-Stage Business Models Change

One of the advantages startups have over established small businesses and corporations is that they are agile and can adapt and change quickly. However, changing frequently comes with unique challenges. When your business shifts, which it likely will at least once or twice if not a half-dozen times or more, your sales technique and process will probably change as well.

 

Your Competition Is Better Than You

Regardless of your industry, services, or products, you’re competing for the time, attention, and money of your target market. And your competition has more experience selling their products, a massive marketing budget, better brand awareness, and is just flat out better at selling than you are at this point. To compete, know what the competition is doing to sell their products and where opportunities lie to separate your company from theirs while gaining market share.

 

Great Salespeople Don’t Come Cheap

Startups can’t afford the best salespeople. They are already working at large corporations that offer them consistent income and perks that you can’t offer. You can, however, come up with creative ways to attract young talent and work with mentors and professionals to properly train and guide your sales team to give them what they need to sell for your startup.

 

You’re Building to Be Bought Out, Instead of to Build Up

What’s the goal of your business under your ownership and leadership? To measure your success along your company’s journey, you will establish and track key performance indicators (KPI). If you’re building your business to attract investors or a competitor for a potential buy out, your KPIs and how you approach the sales process will be different than if your goal is to build a profitable, growing company that you plan to keep for years or even decades.

 

Throwing Cash at Problems Doesn’t Solve Them

“We just need a $250K marketing budget and Google Analytics, and it will all work out,” is something I’ve heard on multiple occasions. In startups, money often makes problems bigger; it doesn’t solve them. Whether you have $250 or $250,000 to spend on marketing and sales, you should be able to properly test and find what works before increasing your budget.

Have questions? Need help? Email Michael@ConsultStraza.com, and I’d be happy to help you overcome your next hurdle.

 

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