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Teaching startups the art of selling

Like Steve Jobs and Travis Kalanick, even you thought of embarking on the entrepreneurial journey.

Congratulations! That was a brave move.

Well, like you, even these personalities started from scratch. However, their determination and passion towards helping the customers made them acclaimed personalities in their respective domains. 

You might have an excellent idea or product, but it is incomplete without the passion and determination to sell it.

Steve Jobs and Travis Kalanick weren’t only fearless in making the first move towards entrepreneurship, but they were even zealous in achieving success.

They understood their customers and tried to offer what they needed, which is why Apple and Uber became the preferred names in the industry.

You’ve sown the seed of startup, now to see it bloom successfully you need to learn the art of selling.

Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out – Robert Collier 

Learning the art of selling 

90% of startups fail.

Woah! That’s scary, isn’t it?

But that’s the truth that shouldn’t be avoided.

However, look at the bright side; there are 10% who succeed.

Most people will worry about the 90% who fail, but there are some who would do anything to be amongst the 10 % of startups who succeed.

They’ll spend sleepless nights, learning, exploring, and experimenting to embrace growth.

This level of passion and unwavering determination is required for reaching success.

The best businesses are really ones that can combine passion, profits, and purpose

Successful selling is an art that every startup owner needs to learn. As you’ve just started, you might not have enough budget to hire a proficient sales team.

However, you might be able to hire one or two sales reps. So, you need to get on the field yourself to get your first few customers.

Make sure you note down the tactics and skills that work, it will help guide and train the sales team you hire in the future.

Getting the first few customers is undoubtedly a challenging job as a startup. However, you just need to take the right path by learning the art of selling, and things will fall in place.

Here are a few lessons to learn the art of selling:

1. Art of selling lesson one: Think like a customer

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what they would want. What would your customers like? What are they looking for in a specific product?

You too have been a customer for some other business when you purchased an appliance or a shoe. 

Don’t you like it when the seller shows you exactly the thing you are looking for? 

You need to have that level of understanding, for providing a good buying experience. 

“Get closer to your customer, so close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves” – Steve Jobs 

Change your mindset and think from the customer’s perspective.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What problems would the prospect want to solve?
  • What expectations does the prospect have from you?
  • What benefits is the prospect looking for?
  • What are the risks associated with the purchase?
  • Find the answer to these questions. See what hassles might arise while offering a solution. 
  • How can you reduce or eliminate it?

Find out how you can exceed your customer expectations.

In other words, in what different ways can you reinvent, refine, or renew the fundamental benefits of your product.

2. Art of selling lesson two – Don’t think too much while making cold calls 

Most of the sales reps get anxious while making a cold call.

They feel what if the prospect isn’t in a good mood.

What if they get irritated?

What if they don’t connect again?

In fact, most of them doubt if cold calling is still effective.

Oh! If Travis Kalanick had thought so much, Uber wouldn’t have been so popular.

Even he used this effective approach to find his first few customers.

Quoting Travis Kalanick 

“I went to Google, typed in San Francisco chauffeur or San Francisco limousine, I just filled out an excel sheet, and I just started dialing for dollars, right? The first ten guys I called, three of them hung up before I got a few words out, a few of them would listen for like 45 seconds and then hung up, and three of them said ‘I’m interested, let’s meet.’ And if you’re cold calling and three out of ten say ‘let’s meet’, you’ve got something.”

Through cold calling, you connect with new opportunities.

However, cold calling needs patience and perseverance. If done correctly, cold calling can help your startups in getting its first few customers.

So, use the right approach and be confident while making cold calls. 

3. Art of selling lesson three – Have something compelling to evoke curiosity 

Until and unless you’ve discovered something unique, you will find many competitors selling the same thing that you do. 

Prospects are tired listening to the same thing from multiple sellers who try approaching them through calls and emails.

As a startup, you need to think outside the box and do something different to evoke interest. 

Give your prospects a compelling reason to hear you out. Make them comfortable as soon as you connect with them. For this, an in-depth research is required. 

  • Once you have a list of few prospects, study about them. 
  • Go through their website and social media pages.
  • See if you have any mutual connection who can help you in knowing them a little better.
  • See what kinds of posts they are linking and commenting upon.
  • Find out if there are any reviews written about your prospect’s company on any reviewing sites.
  • Pick the negative reviews and see if your solution can help in overcoming those weaknesses.

This research can help in building a rapport with potential prospects. Through research, you might get some topics that interest the prospect. This will help in breaking the ice. 

If you manage to find their weak areas, use them in a positive way to ensure your prospects don’t get offended. Highlight the negative reviews (again is a subtle way) and show how your product can help them in it. This will show you’ve done your homework and are keen on helping them.

4. Art of selling lesson four – Sell the benefit, not a comparison 

Our product is cheaper than (X)

Most buyers find (glitches) in (Y’s) product

We offer more benefits that (Z)

Badmouthing your competition won’t help you in selling your product. Businesses find this an easy way to attract the prospect’s interest.

By comparing your product, you are just showing you are more effective than the other company, but that doesn’t show you are going to make the prospect’s life easier. 

The prospects are interested in the benefits that they will receive. So instead of putting down the competitors, speak about what you can do for the prospects. Display your value proposition. Help the customer visualize the change they will experience after using your product. 

5. Art of selling lesson five – Take the help of technology 

Yes, you are on a tight budget, but a little investment in the right technology can help you grow your startup. As you’ve just begun your business, you need a tool that can help you in

  • Managing your sales
  • Keeping your contact information organized
  • Analyzing your sales performance
  • Tracking your deals

CRM for startups can help in doing all of this. It makes you work easier. Through a pipeline view, you can see where your prospects are in the buying process.

Accordingly, you can schedule your activities. Besides, most of the advanced CRM allows you to create a sequence of email or text to automate your follow-up.

So, you don’t have to remember each follow-up. Besides, you can forecast sales and create customized reports to find the gaps in your performance to improve it in real-time. 

Wrapping up

Selling might seem challenging during the initial few years of your startups business. However, you need to keep learning and exploring new things to grow your startup business. Keep yourself abreast with the changing market trends. Make the most of the right technology. A tool like Salesmate CRM can help you in managing your different aspects of sales. From creating reports to managing sales and automating time-consuming tasks a lot can be done with this intuitive CRM.


An avid writer who likes to explore new fields and research about interesting subjects. She is a versatile content developer who plays with words to express her thoughts. Calm, carefree and creative are the words that describes her the best.

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