by Naomi Kokubo
This is one of the hardest problems startups face. How do you close deals when you’re a young company without a proven track record.
Here’s some advice from my experience:
1) Set a deadline – you’d be surprised at how well this works. Create a deadline (real or artificial), and tell the customer that they need to give you an answer by this time. Without a deadline, many potential customers will just sit on the fence. By simply saying, “I need to know by Thursday what your decision is,” you will get results. You don’t even have to explain why you picked Thursday. It’s just part of the process you establish.
2) Move on – when the deadline passes, don’t hold out hope this deal will ever happen. Move on to other opportunities.
3) Push for a NO! That’s right. If the prospective customer can’t decide, then push them to say NO. At least that way you’ll have an answer. You don’t want to keep wasting time following a dead lead. In most cases, the deal will never happen, so you might as well find out early and save yourself a lot of trouble. Remember, time is money.
4) Create competition – for example, you may say to your customers, “We only have bandwidth to take on two more clients this quarter, and if you want to work with us, you need to let us know ASAP, otherwise those slots will be taken.” Again, the customer needs a reason to commit, and competition is a great motivator.
5) Listen – Many startups don’t listen to their potential customers, so they don’t learn anything in the sales process. Most of the time, the customer will tell you whether they truly “need” your product or not. If they don’t need it, you are wasting your time. They may also tell you something else they need, and this may give you a better idea of what you should be selling.
I hope this tried and true advice helps get your business off the ground!