Don’t Get Burned on a Big Sales Deal
Whether or not you make money depends on these four factors
One of the biggest hurdles to startup success is the inability to sell in large quantities.
If you plan on selling your product one customer at a time, you’re probably going to spend more than 50% of your time selling and less than 50% of your time producing. Selling is expensive.
There are several ways to sell a lot of product at once, but they all rely on a single common catalyst. You need a partner, an ally, an entity that acts as a megaphone for your business. You sell through them, they expose your offering to a whole lot of customers you can’t reach. You pay them for this access, usually from the revenue you generate from those sales.
In this post, I’ll run you through some of my best practices for approaching a big sales deal with a large partner — including examples of how I did it both right and wrong.
First you have to get in the room. Here’s how.
The first mistake most startups make is the one that keeps them from getting the meeting in the first place — they try to sell their product to the partner.
While a partner might be interested in using your product themselves, that’s not why you’re pitching them. Not to sound cold, but any organization that has access to a large number of constituents — like a big company with a lot of employees or an industry organization with a lot of members — isn’t interested in the individual problems of their individual members. Rather, if enough of their individual members share the same problem, they might be interested in addressing that problem.
Here’s how I did the partner meeting request wrong and right. These examples are from the early stages of my own startups, when I was wearing almost every hat.
Partner A: The wrong way. I went into my standard customer pitch, which went something like this: “I’ve got this great product! Let me show you why your people need it.”
I highlighted the benefits of the product and the problems it solved, showed them rave reviews from existing customers, and why it would make their people happy. I got so few bites on this pitch…