Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently ran a story focusing on what entrepreneurs get wrong. In our view, we like to focus on how we can help entrepreneurs get stuff right – especially in the critical growth stage of their companies.
One key point that proves perilous for other entrepreneurs as noted in the HBR story is how many ignore the fact that “salesmanship is central to the success of any young company”. In our work, we continually mentor emerging growth companies in the B2B space that fail to incorporate the same rigor and best practices orientation in their sales efforts as they do in their product development efforts. Just as the entrepreneur strives to create unique intellectual property (IP) in their product and services so should they strive to create a sales best practices engine that can also be characterized and justified as corporate IP. In the B2B technology solution space you sell very little without direct “face to face” customer interaction and communication.
Professionally influencing a customer to write you a check and not your competitor is all about sales best practices. It’s about how clearly you understand and can articulate your customer’s needs and how you can uniquely solve their most pressing problems. It’s about succinctly explaining your value proposition in a way that differentiates your company from the competition. It’s about creating a compelling “ROI” model that cannot be refuted.
These are all integrated components of a sales best practice architecture. The playing field is littered with interesting companies that stalled and went away. We believe anemic attention to the sales process represents a very common thread in tracing business failure. The cornerstone for transforming an interesting company into a great company is that entrepreneurial teams are capable of doing many diverse business functions and tasks right. I would put listening to the customer and sales and product development at the top of that list.
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