At the age of 21, I started Cogno AI which got acquired in a multi-million dollar transaction in just 4 years. What was the key element to success? Learning how to sell.
I did my B. Tech in CS and so, it took me a lot of time to learn to sell. Here are my learnings on Sales (B2B SaaS):
1. In the initial days, your customer's office should be your place of work. Find a couple of early prospects and work from their office. The more time you spend with the customer, the more feedback you'd get and the faster you can iterate and build your Product.
2. During the early days of Cogno AI, I used to go to the ICICI Bank office every day. I went there so often that the Security Guard had memorized my laptop's serial number during the security checks. No wonder ICICI Bank is among our largest customers.
3. Sell solutions to pain points. Don't sell features. I have seen so many startups selling tech and features like 'our Product is AI enabled'. The customer doesn't care whether your Product has AI or AR or Blockchain or whatever. They care only and only about whether it solves their problem or not.
4. Learn to make follow-ups your best friend. You have to show up every single day. Many people will get bored and frustrated after 3 follow-ups. The magic happens right after that. Your customer has bigger problems than buying your Product. To get their attention, follow up.
5. If your model is Sales-led rather than Product or Marketing-led, it's better to focus on a few large customers rather than many small customers. Larger customers generally provide a higher ticket size and they also pay in advance. That helps in building cashflows.
6. Learn to be patient. In a typical Enterprise Saas deal, you'd have to deal with a lot of stakeholders - Business, IT, InfoSec, Legal, Compliance, Finance and Procurement. One person liking anything doesn't mean anything till you have a contract on the table. You have to convince all 7 stakeholders.
7. One of the most important things that help customers take decisions faster is case studies. If you have a proven track record of implementing at their competitor with successful outcomes, it drastically helps move the deal faster. Keep the case study documents handy.
8. Don't showcase study documents to IT or InfoSec. They care about the architecture and security of your product. The case study is relevant only for the Business side stakeholder and not for others. Make sure to give each stakeholder exactly what they want.
9. Keep your ego in your pocket. You'd be frustrated. People will ask you to build a POC and then they'd not buy. After 6 months of efforts, customers will shift companies, halting your Sales. All of this is a part and parcel of being in Sales. Learn to live with it.
10. Sales is a numbers game. Reach out to 100 prospects, and 10 will reply back. 5 will give a meeting. 1 will purchase. Don't give up till you've reached out to a hundred prospects. Be impatient with efforts, and patient with results.