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Don't cast a wide net when targeting prospects!

And more advice from Todd Cohen, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, coach, and author of "Everyone's in Sales." Todd’s message is relevant to any organization striving to increase revenue, strengthen relationships and improve client satisfaction. Using humor and real-life examples, Todd demonstrates how every conversation is a “selling moment” and how everyone can contribute to the growth and profitability of their organization. His diverse clientele includes Subaru of America, Inc., NFL Players Inc., Corning, The UPS Store, Inc., EisnerAmper, The American Institute of Architects, Ernst and Young.

1.Do not read your own press!

Don't read your own press. No matter how good you think it is, you have to be out there with people understanding what they need, what they want, and getting out of your own head. Don't think you know it all. Just because you believe you have a great idea doesn't mean that the market thinks it is a great idea. You have to do what salespeople do; connect what they need with what you are developing. If it is a connection, fantastic. If not, listen, listen, listen. Just because you have a great idea and you build a strong product, it doesn't mean that you know how to sell it. Don't assume everybody gets it and, of course, wants to buy it.

2.Be relentless about demonstrating value and be open to feedback.

You have to be tireless about demonstrating value and not have any assumptions. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. You have to be constantly connecting. Many founders miss that they think that the product or service is just so good; why wouldn’t someone want to buy it. "What’s wrong with you? Of course, you want it." There is an enormous amount of nuance out there. You have to take the time to study that. It is almost less about the sale and more about the lead-up and preparation to ensure that you have something people want.

Ask many questions and listen. Don’t get defensive, and be willing to accept that what you are doing may need adjustments. Be very vulnerable, be very humble. This is an opportunity to target better with what you are building. You need to market test your idea, do a lot of research, and test whether the timing is good.

3.Don't cast a wide net when targeting prospects!

Make sure you understand the ideal client for your service or product. Not everybody is going to buy everything. You have to understand who is the right target and who isn’t. The more you can zero in on your ideal customer and understand who is most likely to buy, the more success you will have. Build your sales efforts around finding, targeting, and creating relationships with that specific profile. It is not about quantity; it is about quality in your prospects. You want to have those early adopters who say, “yep, I got it.” Be willing to work with these customers very closely.

If you want to sell more, you need to engage more. Engagement means being open and careful about where, when, and whom you contact. Set the expectations to your investors, staff, team, and yourself correctly. For sales results, give yourself much runway because it will take time for the market to see, embrace, and love your product.

4.Don't Spray and Pray!

Lately, what I am noticing is that the social selling skills of people are terrible. I have never seen more spray and pray garbage hitting my email box. From the sales process, it is all about relationships. Don't assume that because you know somebody in common, they will want to know you. Covid and isolation hurt the startup community the most. You have to be out there eyeballing people. If you are a startup founder, you will have to sell. People are buying more you and your commitment and passion, especially when there is no product yet. You can't do that over email. You might be able to do it over Zoom, but at the end of the day, if you want to sell more, you need to engage more. The engagement begins with getting outside figuratively and literally.

5.Don't blast new prospects with an email that is full of features and benefits for your product.

Don't write a long, laborious email about you and how excellent your service is. Send three lines about something that indicates an interest in actually meeting a prospect and building a relationship. And learn something about them first. It is not about you; it is about the customer. If you can't embrace that with patience, you will fail. Spraying and praying is never good sales strategy. Build a pipeline of targeted ideal clients. Build it slowly; build it deliberately. Do your market research, find an intern, anything to help you create that list. Very slowly, steadily, and deliberately approach prospects. Find a commonality, find a common person, ask for a referral. Be very humble when you connect with them and don't blast them with features and benefits. If I start feeling that I am getting knocked over with features and benefits right away without even knowing you or your product and what it can do for me or even who you are, I will delete it!

6.If selling is not your strong suit, hire someone who can!

If you are a CEO, don't try to do it all. If you don't have sales skills, hire someone that knows how to sell. Don't do something you feel you won't do efficiently or expeditiously. Do be available to go on calls and do investor presentations. Every conversation is a selling moment. Everything you do leaves an impression on somebody. Make sure every person is working in the right, most efficient capacity. If selling is something you think you'll get around to, you need to hire somebody.


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