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Make the leap

by Dr Allan Colman
Indian Management October 2022

To effectively make the leap from building to selling as an entrepreneur, always be on the look for ways to highlight the value you bring to the table. In this way, you set yourself, your brand, and your product apart from the competition on your road to success.

All too often, entrepreneurs are so gung-ho on building their new product or service that they don’t take time to think through how they will finance, market and sell it. Their singular focus may account for the meager 20 per cent survival rate1 of early startups.

If you are an early-phase entrepreneur making the leap from building the product to selling it, you must lay a foundation that positions you for success. This involves becoming well-versed in the savvy strategies for marketing, selling, and accessing resources. You will need to utilise all your resourcefulness, initiative, and problem solving skills to accelerate revenue-generating actions.

Think of your business like a hot-air balloon. While it is still tied to the ground, it can only rise so high. It has to burn fuel to stay just a few feet above the ground. But once you cut loose the tether, it can rocket to the sky, go for miles, and grow.

So how can you get others to notice and ultimately decide to purchase what you are selling? Here are five essential tips:

1. Create your marketing strategy.

It is a mistake to not look at the marketplace before figuring out your product or service. Not only will it allow you to keep costs and fees palatable, it will enable you to anticipate bumps along the way and your ability to respond. Your Unique Positioning Statement (UPS)—the succinct, attention-getting description that distinguishes you from the competition—is at the heart of your marketing and sales efforts. Focus in on and articulate what solutions you offer—and to whom.

2. Develop your brand.

Lay the foundation for your new business venture with the creation of a unique brand—and use that brand to its maximum effectiveness. Remember, a brand is not a logo. It is not just an isolated image and tag line. It is the feeling or the essence of what you are producing that will ultimately resonate with future buyers. Your relationship with your customers is a major part of your brand. Jeff Bezos famously said, “Your brand is what stays in the room after you leave the room.”

3. Know your prospect’s business inside out.

When doing your research, learn who their competitors are, what other firms they are using, and who their decision makers are. In an initial meeting or call, ask them what new products or services they have in development and what sorts of internal pressures they contend with. Once you have learned all you can about them and understood their needs, your goal will be to convert their needs to your values. Discuss how your product or service is a good fit in solving one of their pressure points. Bringing value to your prospects may be the only thing they ultimately care about. Take to heart this quote from IBM: “Sell what they need, not what you have.”

4. Prioritise building relationships.

The professionalism that you present during a meeting, in emails, and in every interaction is critical in building trust with customers and prospects. Work to become their trusted advisor by establishing goodwill. Ask how they prefer to receive information—mails? Phone calls? Deal with problems promptly and communicate when and how they have been fixed. Refer others to them; invite them to join you on a panel at an industry conference; send them a draft of an article you are writing and ask for their comments to show you value their opinion. Place your prime focus on building relationships—ind ‘em, meet ‘em, get ‘em, keep ‘em!

 

5. Identify financing opportunities.

For starters, know that only a small portion of start ups and new entrepreneurs are able to secure financing. To have any chance of doing so, you must first get your house in order. Potential lenders will want to examine your business plan, financial projections, revenue drivers to acquire customers, capital needs, trademark protection, contingency plan and organisation documents. Some lenders cater to women and racial minorities, and others to businesses making a positive impact on the Three P’s: people, planet, and profit. Valerio Giannini2 , managing partner of NewCap Partners, Inc., devised this list of sources for private equity capital for his entrepreneurial course at University of California Irvine.

To effectively make the leap from building to selling as an entrepreneur, always be on the look for ways to highlight the value you bring to the table. In this way, you set yourself, your brand, and your product apart from the competition on your road to success.

Dr Allan Colman is CEO, Closers Group; co-founder DecisionQuest; and Professor of Marketing, California State University. Dr. Colman is also author, The Revenue Accelerator: The 21 Boosters to Launch Your Startup.

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