Neil Jolliffe is the Sales Director and a founder of 4th Aspect Ltd, web based internet marketing software for eCommerce.
Understanding our prospective clients business drivers and getting the correct price point for our product has been fundamental in achieving the success we have had.
The sales and marketing team drives the software developers to produce products to meet the market needs – its the clients who matter not the technology and technologists.
We don’t do anything extraordinary, but we do the things that our customers expect of us. Have good business ethics and values, be responsive, add some value, we view our customers as partners, we need to work at it together. Our best sales aid is our customers.
Assume your audience knows nothing about the topic you are talking to, keep it simple and use minimal presentation aids – forget the 40 powerpoint slides. But most of all be enthusiastic, love what you are talking about, if you believe, the customer/investor/media will as well.
We started with smaller organizations that wouldn’t soak up too much resource, in fact our first 100 customers were all small and local to our office. Once the product had a base and was proven we changed the sales strategy to cover mid-range and corporate customers.
I completely changed the way we sell the product and the size of the prospective customers we sell to. We originally offered small customers a service provisioned from our own cloud. We now sell a product to corporates that run their own cloud services. We handle less customers for greater revenue – it’s definitely paying off.
Be very clear what you want from the investor(s), is it just finance or are you also seeking their management experience, dont give too much equity away, this sounds obvious but many start-ups end up giving too much away too early. If you don’t NEED it, don’t take it, if you can run and grow the company from revenues then do it.
In the UK raising funds is not an easy task – investors are still worried about the general financial climate and investing in tech startups is seen as risky. So if you do need investment get someone into the company who has done it before, has the scars and knows how to deal with investment groups – this should speed things up and end up with you getting a better deal.
Having previously sold a company for several millions I then went and bought it back – giving away your baby is sometimes more difficult then you think!
Never give it up – unless your being paid a shed load of money to do so. Starting again will be twice as difficult as the first time around, once a company is established keep it going even if you have to lose people, the nice office, the porsche, but don’t give up – if you believe in what you are doing it will come good eventually.