The key reasons stated were –
- an unproven product,
- a track record that barely exists,
- a young founder –
All of these tend to scare buyers away. Maybe there are more reasons.
One of the more frequently asked questions on the blog post was: “What works in case of start-ups (in terms of outbound B2B sales lead generation)?”
While we may not be able to zero in on an “answer”, we hope these observations will help:
Start-ups are not always dealing with a pro-buyers. While this is an industry specific observation, think about the last 10 interactions that you had with prospects.
a) Did they seem like people who buy a technology solution every day?
b) Do they ask you the questions that you were hoping they’d asked? Did they ask you the tough questions you had prepared for?
c) Did they, unknowingly, give away internal information to you? If yes, remember how you were smiling after the call / meeting got over?
d) If the technical parts of your pitch don’t work, have you seen them get swayed by the emotional parts of your pitch (the Founder’s story, your personal charisma, etc)?
These are not signs of a pro buyer. Very often, start-ups tend to overestimate the adeptness of the buyer. In fact, we see that happening with our clients almost everyday. Most conversations turn out to be much less complicated than they thought it would.
(Random observation: Pro-buyers tend to check the credibility of an organization over phone by simple tests like – “How many people in your organization?”, “Where is your office address?”, etc.)
Anyone representing a start-up in front of a client has to appear mature. This is purely to beat the stereotype that buyers have in their mind about a young, immature, brigade of techies trying to figure their way through life. While that may be the actual case, there’s no need to present that picture in front of buyers. In a client facing role, put someone who can do “grey hair consulting” to clients and who completely beats the stereotype of a young start-up. Please note that maturity is not necessarily a function of age.
We get ample feedback from prospects who have lost confidence after a few conversations with a young business development rep who was more keen to talk and less keen to listen. We’ve also seen cases where putting a mature conversationalist in front of client did not arouse any such stereotyping. We could be wrong but worth a try?
Your founder and company’s story could go against you. Nothing shouts more “I’m a start-up” than telling your company and Founder’s story of bravado, sacrifice and innovation (and your investor credentials) first thing in a conversation. Get straight to the problem, the solution and the product.
If buyers want to know your story, they will ask. And you can have a 30 second answer prepared for that. But no more please.
While there are more observations on what start-ups can do differently, we are still to test them. If you’ve noticed any, please write back to us.