Strategy — As word describes — covers both Long Haul and Short Haul Objectives.

Strategy Differs for companies to companies — In a typical MNC / Established Companies , there is core team of Strategists who would evaluate each and every Product Line/Business Unit/Country and would Make Plan for 1 year , 3 years etc and then slice it through Operational and Financial Planning for Execution and Numbers are arrived based on last couple of year’s Data and Market Dynamics.Now a Days Collaborative Approach is taken from Top Down Planning and Bottoms up Planning so everyone is part of the Process so as to be on Same Page..!! (BI/Analytics plays good Part as well)

However , In a typical Startup Environment , Founders or initial Employees are clear on where they want to go .. Destination but things change very fast based on Feedback , Versions , Market Response and Plan and Startegy has to be in tandem with Demand in Market/User/Prospect Feedback.

Sales/Marketing Strategy for Startups should be ::

1. Short Haul — To convert Prospects to Customers , If B2B – More traction with Prospect and let him ask more queries and If B2C – More traction or acceptability to users …. Come up with Version 0.1 or whatever and make it live .. Let the Users talk about it and should come from Horse’s mouth instead of debating inside …Whether this will work or not .. Direction is Right .. Not all features .. fair enough .. Let users say .. i want this and come up with their Wish List !!

There are Should have and Nice to Have Features in any Product/Service.. Startup Initially should focus on Should have and not Nice to Have… That should be part of product strategy later on. Ask the Prospect to Pay .. May be for a Month/Quarter after Trial or so may be $ 100 or $ 400 or $ 1000 or whatever price is … If he is ready to Pay .. He is serious/Early Adopter , otherwise he is just evaluating and he will keep on Evaluating and in End will Cut a sorry Figure and come up with Excuses….(Specially in B2B Cases) This is very hard to digest as Startup that the Person is spending so much time/Energy and when it comes to pay after Trial , he is not Convinced .. Try with 10-15 Prospects and you will know the reality…yourself !! and Ask for Serious Feedback..!!

2. Should not be Real Hard Push sales in Starting… As its not selling established Product/Service , there should be handholding of Prospect and more Subtle in Approach .. Too much aggression will take out his interest .. Should not be too desperate in selling ..Create his Interest .. By Value Add Collaterals, Need of their Industry, Competitive Advantage and how you could add value to them if they use your Product/Service.

3. Long Haul — To evaluate the Market from overall perspective and go one by one… Step 1 , step 2 both in Sales/Marketing.

4. Establish Partner Channel as early as possible !!

5. Work with Independent Consultants . Who has Influence to Customers .. obviously with a Carrot .. There are no free Lunches .. either as Employee or Corporation.

6. Be Patient , Honest and talk Value you bring — Financial and overall Brand to them.

Just Would like to share my Personal Sales Story for one of Deals…We were there to sell Hardware , Software and Network Gear for one of Engg Colleges getting started in North India and were sitting with Chairman to finalize .. Every thing was going great .. Presentation , Price … etc etc .. Suddenly , he asked .. why should i buy these Products and Services as you are more expensive and i could get Less Expensive Products with a sizeable price difference.

Now team was not having much answer …… i was also thinking to put in a reasonable logic so that he is convinced….. suddenly it clicked….We said .. Why are you considering us .. bcoz we are known brand .. he said yes .. so what ? .. then we referred .. that you are starting the college and for you to build your brand as great Engg college .. you have to create the value for students …so that they can learn on and move up in value chain ..and build brand for your college …..That Value can be build using these tools and services.Now those were Established Brands and Time was Different. Now People see More Value Product/Service brings to table , may not be that known Company/Brand.

He was more interested to build his Brand than ours .. Financial and Overall Value for his college…!!!
It Stuck him .. at once… he negotiated little bit and closed the deal..

Virendra Sarna

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