Paul SullivanBusiness builder | horse farmer
Bio

I have built technology ventures, both in the US and Canada with successful exits through acquisitions and a nine figure IPO. My background is weighted towards sales and marketing, particularly in the B2B space. I now help other companies move from startup to sustainability when I'm not behind the wheel of my tractor. More about me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulsullivanky



Recent Answers


"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else". Yogi Berra

To initiate any marketing campaign without having a clear plan on how to convert leads to sales, is a tragic mistake and a waste of precious resources. You need to build a sales strategy into your campaign from the outset. There are two basic ways to deal with the leads - digitally and/or with human intervention. If you are looking to automate the process then you must have a clear call to action for the site visitor compelling them to take the next step, along with automated follow-ups and reminders. Even with the greatest value proposition, expect relatively low conversions - so you should plan on driving large numbers in order to gain sales. By using or adding human intervention, "inside sales" will typically drive up conversions dramatically - but with a cost.

CRM is an important tool for sales. It is far easier to implement at startup, rather than wait until you realize you need it. There are plenty of low-cost and freemium solutions that are inexpensive to start and will grow with the business. They will not solve your marketing automation issue, but will provide structure, efficiency and consistency to whatever marketing/sales workflow you decide to employ.

Bottom line - figure out how your going to sell your solution before you waste any more time with development or marketing campaigns. You don't make money building the solution, you make money selling it!


Selling to enterprise customers is about demonstrating value while reducing risk. You will need to show irrefutable proof that your solution will address a pain - ideally, one that is both urgent and important (Eisenhower matrix/Covey). The best way is to point to tangible examples of where you have solved the problem before - through documented case studies, testimonials from industry luminaries, etc. Most enterprise solutions have been developed with the involvement of at least one customer to ensure there is some semblance of product/market fit. If that is your situation, you need to use that customer as a proof-point.

In the absence of an existing customer, you need to find someone (a champion) who is willing to accept greater risk in return for the benefits of being an early adopter. The offer to them could be financial (free/reduced cost/pay when you're happy), exclusivity, customization/ personalization/integration,... - something that will provide extra reward for taking a chance with you, in return for allowing you to use them as proof when the value is proven. As well, expect that an enterprise will limit their risk by testing your solution in a controlled setting - in one department, a specific project, a parallel implementation with another product, etc. with very specific, measurable objectives and expected outcomes.

Selling to enterprise customers can be daunting. Decision-making can be slow, complex and political. The reception area is full of existing account managers with big expense accounts and six figure salaries who call on the customer every day. But, if you can find a way to successfully break into the market, large companies can be like lemmings - and one sale can lead to many. Good luck! Ping me if you think I can be of help.


Be sure to check out Influitive (www.influitive.com). They are solely focused on building and managing customer advocacy programs.

Let me know if you would like an introduction.

Good luck!


Why not connect with investors right here on Clarity? Search on the term "VC" and you'll be presented with an assortment of experts, including VCs and angels. Do your homework, pick a few that are similar to the type of investor you are looking for, and request a call.

Most importantly, ASK FOR THEIR ADVICE, don't try to simply pitch your venture to them. If you are sincerely looking for help, most VCs will give you an honest assessment as to your situation and provide a recommendation on how to get in front of the right investor(s).

I can't think of an easier, quicker, less expensive way of getting the answer you are looking for. Good luck!


We need to split your question into two parts...

"Hard-to-find customers" is a red flag to me. That sounds as if you have a product or service looking for a market, which is pretty tough way to build a business. Unless you have figured out your product-market fit (which assumes you know who your market(s) is/are) you should not be selling yet.

If you have confirmed that there is a market need and your product/service is of value, then you should be selling. There are a variety of strategies to get to "hard-to-reach customers". Often there are existing channels that already own relationships with your targets, and partnering can be a way to get to them quickly. Sometimes an audacious, disruptive business model can help gain the attention of your targets. Creating industry notoriety through luminary customers or media exposure can also help you get noticed by targets, but that will require a purposeful, focused marketing effort. And if you have already built relationships with some customers, you should be able to ask them for referrals to other prospects (assuming they are happy with your solution), and seek their advice on how best to approach targets.

Good luck!


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