Winning first customer is tough! We review here practical insights, methods and tools to execute Business Development for Tech Startups.
You are launching a unique tech solution and looking to access the most attractive markets? It is not “sales”! Many tech startups struggle to identify, attract, train and retain qualified Business Developers. In addition, a “sales” approach can backfire if you are starting to sell while a client is still in “education” mode.
“If the economy continues to head south, what does it mean for entrepreneurs ready to scale their business? Should they hold off on growing sales? Should they take a more conservative approach? My answer is no. In my view, a down economy is the best time to build a sales team.”
Mark Roberge leading Sales at HubSpot during the 2008 crisis.
The success of a Business Development for Tech Start is directly linked to two aspects of outbound Sales:
First, the Team skillset and attitude.
Selling novel, unique solutions is not business as usual. Salespeople need both product knowledge and market knowledge—an understanding of market trends and customer buying patterns. They bring a strong understanding of the technology, combined with great listening skills. They are also resilient, acknowledging that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Second, the good tools and methods.
A great team strives for executing a robust business development process, which is very selective and focused to capitalize and protect your unique value proposition. You want to foster efficiency from the initial market segmentation, target focus, initial outreach all the way to the lead qualification. This also requires discipline to delete less promising prospects.
We provide practical insights on how to build and manage a team with the right attitude. It also provides hands-on guidance on how to execute an efficient business development process. It includes answers to questions like:
How should I organize and prioritize my customer outreach?
Is it best to go wide and shallow or focused and deep?
Can I adapt my outreach depending on product complexity and sales cycle?
How do I get in touch with the right decision maker?
What does it really mean to qualify a lead?
We talk with Lugas Raka Adrianto, Business Development Associate at Sparksense. He draws from his real-life experience working with start-ups and share his passion for sustainable technology to provide exciting insights, practical examples and answer live questions.
This podcast is an opportunity to discuss tried and tested, street-smart approach to Boost customer acquisition for your B2B Tech Startup.
Check-out also our detailed posts on Commercial Growth:
Content marketing drives 10x increase in lead conversion
This Content Marketing Guide brings together specific actions and use cases most from our day-to-day work with Tech Entrepreneurs. It draws also from our own experience building Tech ventures in Energy and Aerospace industries.
If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.
We believe that a well-executed Content Marketing strategy is key to success for early tech ventures – in this Content Marketing guide for Entrepreneurs we cover:
Why Content Marketing is important
What content works for your startup
5 Ground rules to shape your content
Great Use Cases on content distribution
Powerful, Easy to use and cheap Tools
Call To Action to get qualified leads
Why Tech Entrepreneurs should focus on Content marketing
Outbound Marketing & Sales feels great!
You dig through your network e.g. Linkedin & co. to get some target names. You reach out to them, email or chat, for a chance to sell your solution. Probably a necessary step, but this has some flaws:
You spend most of your time establishing first contacts
You are interrupting your audience in their day-to-day business
Missing problems where your solution could be of greater value
Very low sales conversion rate and huge time spent
In this Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs, we prefer to focus on the definition :
“The marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Our Target character is one of the Business Managers busy tackling day-to-day operations. He has probably lived many years with the Status Quo. When the Target decides to solve a problem, one wants tangible benefits: increased sales, reduced cost or improved quality.
5 practical rules for effective Content marketing
So now it is time for Tech Entrepreneurs to take this content marketing guide into action!
#1 Make your content relevant to your Target audience
Know-Your-Customer with empathy. Focus on understanding your Target market needs, problem and expectations. Work out various options to address this issue incl. your solution. But keep it low-key on branding and hard selling.
#2 Build credibility and trust
Working in F.E.A.R., the Decision Maker is concerned by the risk of working with you as a new supplier. Testimonialsand facts from Pilot, existing customers, research partners or opinion leaders increase your credibility.
#3 Illustrate your content
You should grab attention through relevant picture or visual. License-free pictures and video material can be found on Pexels, Unsplash, Pxhere and many more on a pay-for-license e.g. shutterstock & co.
#4 Your Call To Action
Prepare your Call To Action well before your content marketing release. Keep in mind that your goal is to generate awareness so that your target audience connects with you. You need to have a clear path to bring these new leads into your commercial funnel.
#5 Measure impact and iterate
We are competing for attention with a million other content. While the costs of ‘Distribution’ have dropped to almost Zero, the ‘Production’ time & costs have increased to deliver quality content. Regularly measure impact to fine tune type of content, messages and distribution channels.
Now that you have built your content, let us look at ways it can be distributed to your audience, leveraging specific use cases.
THE DISTRIBUTION – where to publish my ‘content’?
It should be where your Target audience is looking for information. Do you address a large, fragmented market? Or rather a an industry with few big buyers? How much time and money you are prepared to dedicate?
Below are some of the main distribution strategies implemented for tech Startups.
Social Media For most Tech businesses, preferred routes will be Linkedin, Medium, Youtube and Industry specific blogs. If your business involves design or visual value creation, consider adding Instagram or Facebook.
Blog Startups should favor theme based content, which grabs attention. Add some News as you become a more established businesses. Keep it generic, typically loosely tied to your company and branding. Many blogs follow the ‘Listicle’ format and some more Best Practices here.
Podcast Simple audio recording, easy to edit, convenient to consume, inexpensive and quick to produce. 17% of marketers plan to add podcasting to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months. For a step-by-step guide, how to Start a Podcast check this here.
Meetup & Network events In 2018, Atomico reports about 15’000 Tech related meetups in each Paris and Berlin, 30’000 in London alone. Meetups can be a very powerful and cheap way to connect with your audience. It allows you to explain your solution and build a community around your brand.
Live or online Training seminar Workshop format built around your solution. You might consider also providing some online training as lead generation to your main business. Based on the right content, it can be scalable and promotes you as expert in a field. Consider Udemy, Teachable and more.
Video Video is a must have nowadays; combined with landing pages can increase conversion by 86%. Vary your format from short social media teaser, to company overview to ‘How-to-Video’. A nice infographic by Hubspot and more B2B Video examples here.
Product Configurator An online product Configurator is great to automate your product features selection. Gartner estimates in 2018, 40% of B2B digital commerce sites to use Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tools. Your challenge is adoption. Start small using Google Form or a Web Editor before expanding functionalities.
Open Source & Freemium models Providing a free(mium) Open Source solution can drive great business traction. It is powerful to ‘Try-before-your-buy’, build a community of users as an asset or generate a larger hardware installed base.
Industry Trade show As a startup, forget your expensive own booth. Instead, join the booth of a large established player. Apply for Call For Paper to be on stage, alongside a well-known partner if possible! Take on comfortable shoes to walk the floor and meet prospect customers.
There are many great (free) design tools to help you be efficient. But do not get distracted – the ‘Design’ part of the content is the easy bit.
The hard part is to work, re-work and fine tune your content. It is old fashion but it forces you to think through key items : audience, wording, problem, solution, features, benefits… Forget the font, color & co for now…
Knowing that you could work on the detailed ‘content’ forever, now you feel good about it. Ready to tackle the ‘design’ !
Below is a list of tools we use every day… powerful & easy to use
Canva great for quick & professional looking design
Gimp open source graphics editor for image retouching and editing
WordPress simple web editor for professional outcome
Anchor.fm to create, host and broadcast your podcast
But of course the content is only a means to an end… so let’s get into action.
CALL TO ACTION – turning your Content into Sales
After the Acquisition comes the Activation phase. Whatever your established goals are, it is critical to ensure you have a Call To Action.
If your business relies on a large community of users, consider having a sign-up landing page. Strategic landing pages are used by 68% of B2B businesses to acquire leads.
But of course, most Tech solutions need to build a personal rapport with your prospective clients. Be prepared to share details about your solution in online call, live or recorded demo and a personal sales meeting.
Tech Content Marketing is a wide topic! This content marketing guide for Tech Entrepreneurs is to trigger thoughts and actions. Since we all can benefit from everyone insights, we invite you to comment and share your experience.