Roy Osing
12 Jun 2018

Successful startups have an amazing focus on sales

As a startup leader, what emphasis do you put on your sales effort?  

The world of sales is complicated and noisy. Customers demand, competitors attack and pundits natter.

There are too many messages “splashed and sprayed” at the market through too many channels; this relentless and constant bombardment is distracting and often gets in the way of people deciding who to do business with. 

Critical to sales success in a startup business is the ability to cut through the message clutter and focus on the few things that drive the successful launch of a new venture.
Try these 4 steps to focus your sales approach and get lift off.

Create a detailed game plan

A 24- month game plan for your startup is an absolute necessity; it must clearly define what you need to do to ramp up your new business. 
A short term time horizon is necessary to keep the attention on execution — a 5-year plan is useless in terms of implementation of your idea; you need to keep your nose down and avoid lofty long term aspirations. You need to stay alive; grandiose plans will kill you.

If your end game lacks clarity it is impossible to know what sales effort is needed to achieve progress. For the sales effort to be effective, the customers you intend to target and your value proposition require specificity. You need to know who you talk to and what you are going to say when you open your mouth. This clarity will render the clutter around you to white noise.
Translate your game plan

Many entrepreneurs don’t develop their strategy in sufficient granularity. They aren’t able to relate what they should be doing on a daily basis to their game plan and are therefore swept up in the activity trap of trying many things they THINK should be done and as a result achieve hit-and-miss success.

Translate your strategic goals into your top sales priorities for the next 90 days and create a sales plan to keep you focused on the specific results you must deliver by the end of the period.

Forget about brainstorming 

It’s ok to create a list of sales possibilities that you feel should be undertaken, but if you don’t apply a strict prioritization discipline and screen the list to the critical few, you will be constantly chasing things in a reactive mode and will never know if you are making progress.

It’s not about having a to do list with 20 items on it. Busyness is never successful without strategic purpose. It’s a guaranteed way to fail. It might make you feel good and that you are achieving meaningful results, but it’s an illusion.

Furthermore, multitasking is doomed to fail. It’s virtually impossible to do many things well; you simply don’t have enough time or resources to do it all.
A limited time resource and many projects to work on means that each project receives minimal attention and nothing gets done.

Inventory what you are currently doing and cut the crap that is not critical to your end game. Your To-Don’t List should be long.

Beware of “yummy incoming” 

“Yummy” consists of all the over-the-transom demands of your time that can distract you from your critical few priorities — new technology possibilities for your new business idea or foreign markets that show potential. All the stuff that is not in your game plan.

Yummy is tempting to respond to because it represents “comfy food”; it delivers personal satisfaction from working on it and it’s fun. The problem is that yummy feeds busyness and the chasing phenomena ; chasing-this and chasing-that without purpose. Sales productivity = 0 and your startup stops.

Startup success very much depends on your sales effort being focused and disciplined. If you let yourself be distracted like many new business leaders do, you will join the ranks of new ventures that don’t survive.

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead


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