Given the massive hype over the years around getting Traction, GMV, doling out endless freebies and not caring about profits or even cash burn rates, it would be prudent for any and all early growth companies to stick to certain basics even if they have raised a recent round of funding. In fact, once you do so, there should be an added level of responsibility when it comes to how you spend and spread that dough to have an effective ROI, first internally and then to show to your investors.
Sales & Marketing are often grossly misunderstood, even overstated terms for many tech-based platforms, whether SAAS, B2B, B2B, D2C and B2B2C. Once they’ve built an awesome product, which every product manager convinces them it is – first, they feel users should just flock to it and buy whatever is on offer by fancy launch campaigns or they take this insanely expensive social media sponsored route. When this doesn’t seem to work, then starts the free cash strategy to lure in users, which is so addictive for both the provider and user that it goes on and on fuelled by a desire to keep up the (false) growth momentum going. Investors too have played a huge part in adding to this, by pumping in more and more and yet even more money to find light at the end of a totally infinite tunnel. And God forbid if you have direct competition in the same space as usually the case is, then it’s a “keeping up with the Jones’s” game until one or the other bleeds to death.
Here are few basic principles to adhere to get in organic users and get your initial Sales Strategy right:
- Identify your Target Market/Users: This is easier than it sounds as more often than not, you would identify a large market size in the hope of getting to or capturing a X% of that. Wrong! Do intensive research and have a much smaller base, maybe even in hundreds to target them only for first few weeks or months.
- Identify the Big Fish Customers: Many a time, Startup founders are either intimidated or feel overwhelmed to even identify the big ticket sale clients for fear of rejection – forget reaching out to them. This should not be the case, you need to identify, build upon and then effectively reach out to them as early as possible in your journey to get feedbacks on your product and who knows even get a closure. Contrary to common perceptions, most big clients esp. in B2B are highly receptive and supportive of small businesses.
- Choose your Marketing Channels: Chose only 1 or maximum 2 channels to reach out to customers but first organically, not through paid campaigns. Being everywhere will only scatter your energies and even budgets. Use all tools available to carefully analyse the analytics even if they are low for a start. Build upon them.
- Skip The Bells & Whistles: While it is tempting to want to make a lot of noise and get branding, it should be in fact, like the free cash doling activity, a complete no-no for starters. This includes spending copious amounts of time & moolah on events (now called webinars) which all ask for some entry fee with branding. Instead, create your own webinars/fireside chat sessions educating your customers about your product, record them and put on your own pages, youtube channels and forward those links in micro communities.
- Don’t spend on fancy & expensive PR – Keep in mind that weighty media positionings don’t always increase sales. Such expenditures should be inline with your immediate goals. Look over for what can be done in-house, it need not necessarily be the time to outsource. Try making some success stories in sales and then organically build upon them.
To recap in simpler terms, identify your bees (customers) , attract them to your beehive & become the queen bee.
Get clarity on your market, assess the external forces (like the Pandemic now), follow the winds for a little while – doesn’t mean you blindly follow others but instead create a niche in an existing or prevailing industry. A pizza is pizza is a pizza – right? No, there are hundreds of thousands of possibilities there, while retaining its round shape & packing it in a square box! Use different toppings – this way you don’t reinvent the wheel but add more spokes and maybe even covers to it. Makes sense?
Also, you don’t lose current trending opportunities, get a share of the pie & then add more muscle when the time comes to attempt to make a square pizza that fits into a square box!
By Amit Gupta, our Global Head of “All Things Business”