Why are startups so afraid of outsourcing?
Don't be afraid of acquisition: sales for founders
The foundation is done and all formalities have been completed. Now customers absolutely have to be here. However, many founders find it difficult to acquire customers. But if you follow the most important rules, you won't have any problems here. These rules and other tips for founders who want to take sales into their own hands are available from professionals.
Für-Gründer.de: Hello Mr. Mumme, many founders shy away from acquisition, especially at the beginning, and prefer to continue working on the product. What good tips can you give them?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Successfully acquiring new customers always means getting out of your comfort zone. This is certainly uncomfortable, but if successful it offers many opportunities. You should deal with the topic of sales as early as possible and seek professional support if necessary. Today, solution-oriented acquisition is more important than ever. Effective orders can only be achieved if one specifically addresses the problems and compulsions of the potential customer during acquisition. I can give three specific tips:
- Prepare yourself optimally. It is important to ensure a quiet environment before making a call for acquisition, to have a script ready with the content and goals of the upcoming conversation and at the same time to prepare mentally for the conversation. In advance, answers to possible objections in the conversation should be formulated in advance using conversation guidelines. Answers to sentences such as: “This is too expensive for us”, “we are well looked after” or “we don't need that” should be prepared in advance. A summary should then be drawn up that clearly addresses the positive and negative situations. This is the way to learn from mistakes. Only those who train can become successful.
- Don't be afraid and listen carefully.The acquisition should be carried out on days when you feel good and secure. Only those who exude conviction can also convince. Please always argue politely and well-informed in a solution-oriented manner and at the same time listen carefully. It is also important to build trust, ask suitable questions and at the same time show interest in the conversation partner and the company.
- Recognize weaknesses and get help. If weaknesses such as uncertainty or a lack of certainty in the final conclusion can be identified, it makes sense to carry out coaching. It is very promising to call several customers together with an experienced coach. The aim is to strengthen self-confidence in one's own abilities and to further develop existing skills. Often a day is enough here. We often see that the acquisition has a motivating effect after the first initial success.
For-Gründer.de: What are the main problems the start-ups usually have when they come to you for advice?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Either the idea for the product or service has been implemented and is about to be launched on the market, or the start-up has been active in the market for a short time. In both cases, a lack of sales or a lack of sales success and thus a lack of sales are usually the reason for contacting us.
Für-Gründer.de: A start-up team is at the very beginning and wants to build up its sales. How do you do it?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Before starting to set up sales, the market positioning, the target group and the differentiation from the competition must be examined again. Here it is important that these can be clearly defined and communicated. The next step is to analyze the sales structures of the competition.
- Which sales channels does the competition use and why?
- Where are there weak points or opportunities?
Only then do you define a specific sales strategy in which you define the further procedure and the sales goals to be achieved. The bottom line is that it is important to test different sales channels, especially at the beginning, and to adjust the sales strategy if necessary.
For-Gründer.de: Which sales channels are available to small companies in particular?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Almost all sales channels are open to start-ups today. The selection of the sales channels should, however, always be based on the sales strategy worked out in advance.
Unfortunately, we often find that the sales orientation is intuitive or initially only takes place in relationship management.
Of course, the choice depends on the business model of the start-up and the product or service. If, for example, it is a question of B2B services or products from the lower to medium price segment, the sales channel via telephone and direct sales through on-site visits can be very promising. The feedback obtained from this and the knowledge gained should critically flow into the product or service development and help to optimize the sales and distribution process.
With this approach, fundamental building blocks for a successful scaling of the sales strategy can be laid, since the founders and those responsible have got to know the opportunities and risks of successful sales from their own experience.
Another exciting sales channel is the acquisition of cooperation partners. This includes companies, persons or groups that already have sales channels in the relevant target group.
In order to win cooperation partners, a solution-oriented approach is recommended. This means that it is analyzed exactly what the potential sales partner's specific compulsions to act are and the corresponding solutions are offered. The establishment of a network of cooperation partners can represent a decisive competitive advantage for a start-up and mean reliable customer acquisition costs.
For-Gründer.de: When does outsourcing sales make sense for founders and start-ups?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner: Outsourcing of sales makes sense if a profitable addition can be found through the external sales partner and gaps in sales can be closed. Sales outsourcing naturally enables faster growth, but the start-up is giving up a very important part of the company.
So far, we have been able to achieve the best results from a mix of outsourcing and sales coaching.
For-Gründer.de: Cold calling can be a major challenge for inexperienced entrepreneurs. What approach do you recommend to founders on the path to success?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Only thorough preparation can lead to lasting success. Information about the company, the industry and the market environment is imperative, but also knowing the problems and challenges of potential customers.
At the same time, it is said that practice makes perfect. An authentic and self-confident demeanor are the cornerstones of sales. Consistently practice conducting a conversation on the phone or during the first interview. New insights can be gained from every sales pitch.
For-Gründer.de: What skills and competencies should a good salesperson have?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:
Skills such as curiosity, creativity, commitment and knowledge of human nature form the basis for successful sales activities.
Long-term success is only achieved by those who continuously work on their skills through discipline and willingness to learn and who acquire strong presentation skills and a secure degree. Nowadays, a high degree of flexibility is also required in order to be able to adapt to the rapid changes in technology.
For-Gründer.de: Are you born as a salesperson or can you acquire the necessary skills?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:You are not born as a sales expert, you are maximally appointed. Certainly positive innate communicative qualities help, the rest is experience and training. It makes us happy to see when founders do not trust themselves to acquire new customers at the beginning, but have the first successes after active training and support. It is particularly nice to see when initiative and instinct develop and the founders can hardly wait for their next acquisition.
For-Gründer.de: A start-up grows quickly. What scalable sales strategy do you recommend?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner: Whether and how a sales strategy can actually be scaled depends on the implementation and the overall situation of the start-up. Practice shows us that different levers are necessary for successful scaling in sales in each individual case.
In practice, it is always important that the defined sales channels have been tested in the sales strategy and that expedient experiences and best practices are derived. It is just as important that a clearly structured sales process is defined and implemented for the sales channel. Adjustments to the sales strategy can and must also be made during scaling - by building on a solid foundation, undesirable developments can be identified and eliminated more quickly.
For many start-ups, especially in the B2B area, telephone acquisition is very successful, usually in combination with sales representatives. Other companies, on the other hand, are very successful in acquiring via online marketing. Google, Facebook or LinkedIn process such inquiries, for example, through their own office staff. A combination of both also often works.
For-Gründer.de: What should you pay attention to when looking after existing customers?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:Maintenance of existing customers is one of the three main pillars in sales, alongside the expansion of existing customers and the acquisition of new customers. Here it is important to offer optimal service and to ask questions about satisfaction, wishes and suggestions for improvement for the future. This can take place via email or in a phone call. At this point we can learn a lot about our customers in order to then move on to expanding existing customers and improving the approach to new customers.
For-Gründer.de: What three tips do you give founders and self-employed people to sell?
Peter Mumme from Mumme & Partner:
- Define goals precisely. The goal describes the way. A suitable path can only be found if the goals are clearly defined, even if it has to be adjusted every now and then.
- Be flexible and creative. Check at regular intervals whether the direction is still correct and react to market and customer feedback. But of course don't lose sight of the company's reason and goals.
- Hang in there and stay on the path. To become and to remain successful often takes a rocky and uncomfortable path. It is important to hold out to the goal.
Für-Gründer.de: Thank you for the interview!
The sales support Mumme & Partner is represented in the network on Für-Gründer.de and supports founders on their way to self-employment. Find out more about Mumme & Partner in the profile of the service provider and consultant exchange.
Tags:AcquisitionCustomer acquisitionCustomer relationshipsCustomer loyaltySales
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