Editor's note: This is a sponsored story for Pipedrive
Many startups struggle to do sales well. They begin with a great idea and build a product to make their vision a reality, but without selling their idea or product, the startup may die. Perhaps nobody knows this better than the Estonian Startup - Pipedrive, as they not only come from a sales background but the tool itself has become an extremely popular sales management CRM. They share some tips with readers:
Tip #1: Have a proper sales structure in place.
Talking to Pipedrive, you immediately realize that there are a number of very simple tips and processes that you can implement to make a big improvement in your sales efforts. For instance, the first piece of advice is - structure. In essence, think of sales management like a funnel, with clear stages of the sales relationship that any customer would go through.
At ArcticStartup, we also use Pipedrive, to manage our sales process. In our case, we use the following stages to any sales we do: Lead Pool, First Contact, In Progress, Proposal Stage, Negotiation, and Invoicing/Closure. The basic mindset in managing sales in stages helps when organising them and keeping on top of relationships.
Tip #2: The more deals you can begin, the more revenue you’ll generate.
With that in mind the first thing any startup would want to do is add as many deals into their lead pool as possible. Or as Pipedrive people would say, “Adding new conversations keeps your sales pipeline flowing.”
Sales is a numbers game and the idea is rather simple really: the more potential deals you can begin, the more revenue you’ll generate. We all know that not every conversation will lead to a sale, but the more conversations you begin, the more opportunity there will be for success.
So how do you keep that pipeline flowing?
1. Set a daily or weekly goal for adding new deals, it keeps you focussed on the task.
2. Make list building an unbroken habit, constant effort keeps your pipeline full.
3. Get creative about how you make your weekly lists.
Following up on inbound leads and calling people from purchased lists gets repetitive and narrows your vision. Try asking for referrals from your existing customers. Get in touch with people you haven’t spoken to in 3-6 months, you never know what might have changed for your contacts over time. To that end, keep on top of what your contacts are doing, keeping track of them, might let you know when they would be interested in your product or service.
Tip #3: Would you like fries with that? Aim big and upsell.
“Would you like fries with that?” is a simple question that increased annual revenue of a McDonald's franchise owner by more than $200,000 back in 1970s, and has made the company hundreds of millions in profits since.
So, once you have built a habit of adding a steady stream of leads into your pipeline the next thing is to start going after larger deals - it’s not only huge companies that can land large and highly profitable deals. Having the right mindset is the first step, envision yourself closing bigger deals and have confidence to approach big companies.
Learn how bigger companies purchase, each client is different, so taking time to reach the key decision makers will increase the likelihood you’ll be able to close a sale.
Finally, present logical add-ons and bundle multiple products and services into a deal, from there - upselling is a simple way to increase the size of your sale. Find your $200,000 question.
Tip #4: Plug the leaks: Increase conversions through focus and activity
Having a good pipeline is great, but to make it really work - you need to plug the leaks. Basically, you need to track and improve your conversions. Things like finding and talking to actual decision makers, and being proactive definitely helps in that regard.
The problem with only responding to incoming requests is that very often the prospect already knows who they would like to work with and changing their mind is going to take a lot of time and effort. Time is very valuable, and to that end another recommendation of Pipedrive’s is, “drop the wrong prospect as soon as possible.” Increasing a conversion rate is more about searching for opportunities rather than trying to convince someone to buy. To be more effective as a salesperson, create a good buyer profile and stick with it. If you’re talking to a prospect who doesn’t fit the profile, move on quickly. Finally, and most importantly, get to know your potential customers’ business better than your competitors do. People and companies buy because they have a need, a want, or both. If you understand what those are you are best positioned to meet them.
These pieces of advice are just the tip of the iceberg, and we have a learned a lot more when doing the interviews with Pipedrive. Worry not, however, the guys and gals over at Pipedrive have no intention of keeping it all to themselves as they have condensed their knowledge and wisdom into a free series of emails called the Sales Pipeline Academy Course which anyone can sign up for here. Personally, I am on my 7th e-mail and enjoying every bit of it.