A sneak peek at a chapter from the upcoming new and revised edition of Ready, Fire, Aim…
Understanding the Optimum Selling Strategy
Why It Is Critical for Your Start-Up Business
In launching a business, the entrepreneur’s first and most important job – among all the many tasks associated with starting a business – is to make the first sale.
You can do everything else. You can rent space, rent furniture, print business cards, and get every sort of certification you will ever need. But until that first sale is made, you have only been spending money and time. You haven’t started a business at all.
And that means that of all the dozens of jobs you must attend to, the job of selling is supreme.
You may not be a natural salesperson. You may not even be interested in selling. Your expertise may be in product development or management or customer service or accounting. But unless you figure out how to bring in that first customer, your business will never get off the ground.
Selling, in other words, is not optional for the Stage One entrepreneur. It’s essential.
And if selling is essential, learning to sell (i.e., developing the knowledge and skills to sell your company’s main product) is an obligation, not a choice.
Introducing: The Optimum Selling Strategy
I believe that for every business at any given time there is one best way to acquire new customers. And by “best way,” I mean the way that meets the company’s greatest current needs. For a Stage One business, generating positive cash flow is usually – or should be – the greatest need. Therefore, Stage One entrepreneur should be focused on that: how to acquire customers in a way that creates positive cash flow.
By positive cash flow, I mean getting more cash from each sale than you put into getting it. This is not easy. It is easy to acquire customers if you are willing to lose money by acquiring them. But unless your plan is to build a big customer base by losing millions of dollars (a popular idea today, but a very bad one for the average entrepreneur), you have to create a marketing and sales program that brings in more money each month than it spends.
This doesn’t mean that the initial sale itself needs to be profitable. In many businesses, customer acquisition turns profitable only after the second or third sale. But that just means that part of your job is not only to create that first sale but to create a second and third sale to the same customer in as short a time span as possible.
Most entrepreneurs never stop to think about cash flow or long-term profits when they are starting out. They are so excited about their product that they imagine it selling itself. And even experienced intrapreneurs – divisional marketing executives or CEOs – often pay scant attention to selling strategies when they launch new products. They mistakenly assume that one way of selling is just about as good as another.
Nothing could be further from the truth. How you sell your product – the specific decisions you make about presenting and pricing and talking about it – has a huge impact on whether you will be successful.
The product is important but almost never sells itself. To launch the product successfully and take your new business (or product line) from zero to a million dollars (and beyond), you have to discover what I call your optimum selling strategy (OSS). This chapter and the next are devoted to teaching you how to do that.
Discovering the OSS for your product will put your business on the right track. It will make everything that happens afterward easier. Problems will be easier to solve. Obstacles will be easier to overcome. Objectives will be easier to reach. And your business will grow quickly,
You will have a fundamental understanding of the most important secret of your business: how to bring in a steady stream of new customers at an affordable cost. This will allow you to lead your employees with confidence as the business grows, and to help them fix problems if and when they arise.
Change, of course, is a daily fact in business, and markets and marketing are constantly evolving. So the OSS you use to launch your business may not be the one you’ll need later. But in figuring out the OSS for the first time, you will have learned something that won’t likely change over time: the core buying patterns of your core customers.
Before long, you will intuitively understand your core buyer. You will understand where she is, what she wants, what she’s willing to pay for it, and how to speak to her so she will hear you.
The OSS will turn you into a Stage One sales and marketing expert, becoming your secret litmus test to measure new ideas and make wise decisions. This will help you avoid unnecessary sales and marketing mistakes. And that will allow you to focus on the programs and strategies that are likely to work, leveraging otherwise wasted time and money into building your business exponentially faster.