Again a great post from close.io which I am about to try out as a potential comprehensive solution. They apply what they advocate and follow up daily. The below applies to so many business situations in general, and while it is “standard practice” for a lot of American companies, I virtually never saw these common sense practices from a French/European one.
I think the worst “sin” they commit over here is “not following up”. I noticed it was even worse in Italy but cannot really speak for other countries. It seems deeply engrained in our culture that following up somehow hurts your ego, maybe makes you a lesser human being, and that it is absolutely useless. Often enough, even as a client, I have to harass people for them to sell me what I want.
As everyone I hate having to harass anyone, but in general getting something done here requires a lot more effort than in the US, and I’ve come to the conclusion that in general when the “transaction” or “service provided” doesn’t happen on the spot, they just drop it, never ever answer, until you become such a nuisance for them that they’ll eventually do it - not because they see business potential, but simply to get rid of you (again I’m speaking from a CLIENT’s standpoint). The few exceptions come from international companies which strictly impose their standards.
Web companies, who you’d think just have to copy the US CRM, typically make weak attempts at following up which at best involves a generic newsletter landing in your spam. You’ll never receive anything from a 5 star hotel you stayed at, a contractor, a lawyer you consulted, a store you bought from; it’s a challenge to get a hold of your bank rep (you really need to go to the very best private banks), and in general no one ever calls or emails back, even when they’re interested. No one ever tries to keep you as a customer, or again unless they are forced to by company standards. I think the general belief is “you’ll buy if you want to and interfering is not only useless but degrading”.
All in all the economy still works as you still have to purchase things down the road, and you hardly feel the “consumer society” excesses like in the US, where you end up buying tons of things you don’t need!
1. Not Understanding Your Customer: Many startups make generalizations as to what their customers want. There may be a specific market for your product or service, but each customer’s challenges are going to be different. I’ve seen founders conduct poor research into their prospective customer before pitching them, and then fail to ask those customers specific questions in regards to their unique needs and pain-points. Instead, they’ll talk on and on about how great their product is and its 10 unique features. Startups need passion for their idea, but not at the expense of taking the time to understand your customers and asking the right questions.
2. Not Selling: Most startups explain all the bells and whistles of their product, but fail to sell the core solution to their customer’s problem. To do that, you need to ask the customer questions to understand what they really need. A prospective customer needs to be sold on the 2-3 benefits your product provides to them, rather than the 100 features you’re planning to build into the product in the future.
3. Not Showing Up: Most startups don’t go out into the market to pitch real people and close actual customers. As a result, they miss out on two key experiences crucial to a young company. First, the founders miss the opportunity to connect directly with their earliest customers and develop long-term relationships. Second, they miss direct customer feedback, which often provides the best recommendations to improve a young company’s product or service.
4. Not Following Up: Most startups pitch once and never follow up again. Maybe they follow up once or twice, but not relentlessly. Startup founders & too many startup hustlers are not shameless enough (sound familiar?). They worry too much about intruding on the prospect’s time or being too persistent out of fear of losing the sale. If you lose a prospective customer because you followed up too much, then they weren’t going to close anyways. I’m not advocating calling someone every few minutes, until they rip their phone line out of the wall; but giving up on a prospect won’t lead to a new customer. Keep up with them until they come to a decision, either a “yes” or a “no.” Everything else doesn’t count.
5. No Process in Place: Startups love to optimize their UI/UX but not their sales funnel. Most don’t even have a sales funnel to optimize. Startups today have access to a vast amount of data but often fail to track some basic metrics for their sales funnel; calls/emails, connections to decision makers, qualified leads, closed deals/deal value and time to close.
6. Not the Right Price: Startups often think the cheaper their service the better. While a low price tag does lower the barrier to entry for your customers, it can also dilute the value of your product. If your email or website plugin provides massive value for your customers, why is it the same monthly subscription price as Netflix? When you have a viral product that gets massive traction online, you can have a low price. When you need sales people to sell your product or enterprise customers, you need to consider if your product is priced appropriately to sustain your business. Ultimately, startups need to charge their customers what their product is worth and sell them on its value, not its price tag.
7. Not Asking for the Sale: Sometimes simply asking for the sale makes the process move forward in the direction that you want. After all of the phone calls, demos, and follow up, some startups are still afraid to ask for a customer’s business out of fear of losing the sale. If you spent so long cultivating your relationship with the customer, wouldn’t it be easy to close your new best friend?
Some entrepreneurs start their business out of love for art or fashion, some for science and technology. At the end of the day, every startup needs to succeed in pitching their product or service to make their vision a reality.