A “Not to Do” List We Provide Startups with (mostly for sales, but not only)

⛔ Do not work with an unrealistically bloated sales pipeline.

Make clear decisions and differentiate between what a real lead is and what is future potential. If you like to, work with custom fields or an extra sheet where future potential after a first sale is and becomes visible. DO NOT make those potential leads the base of your calculations or sales work. It will end up with overpromising (vs investors), and frustration (in the sales team).

Recall that the sales pipeline method serves a purpose: it is less about impressing yourself or the investors and more about making it easy for sales to succeed.

⛔ Do not try to eat the elephant in one bite.

Break it down.
That also applies to the market segments and the respective sales pipelines, their timelines and realistic goals, milestones, and expectations.

⛔ Do not spread your energies into all channels at the same time.

Focus on the main messages, and try not to shoot from the hip too much. Do not feel as if you need to share all the time.

⛔ Get rid of the shiny things syndrome.

Transform intuition into idea-collection, and work decisively with diverging and converging modes (look that up in “Magic Innovation Leadership” if needed).

⛔ Do not skip planned action for seemingly agile behaviour.

Of course, you are under lots of pressure to deliver. Those periods can only be tackled with very clear prioritisation and discipline in project planning and DOING.

KPIs by themselves will not do the job.

They would rather lead towards everything feeling like a huge mountain that is much too big to be tackled. And YET it can be tackled by taking one step after the other.

Keep your eyes on the ground and on the sky, not on the abyss on the side (i.e. missing the goals).

⛔ “This is technical sales” is not an excuse for mediocre sales communication.

Sales is a craft that consists of knowing what you sell, yes. It is based even more on being aware of who you are selling to (tech vs commercial deciders) and HOW exactly you are doing it.

The devil (or success) is in the details – and those need to be taken care of. Do not make things or proposals or buying decisions unnecessarily difficult.

Instead, do all you can to make it easy for them to say YES.

  • NO “deviation” of what the client actually asked for in proposals anymore; if you have an idea for an up- or cross-sell, give it as an option a the end.
  • Do not use long lists of documents – instead (if needed) set up a clear and safe data room. This in itself communicates trustworthiness.

⛔ Do not expect them to trust you just because you’re great (they don’t know yet).

Trust needs to be invested in. If you do not have the credentials yet, you will have to open doors wider, give them more guarantees and safety, and even ‘pay’ them for given references or insights (meaning: give them some other bonus or goodie).

Source: An recommendation list I drafted for a startup/scaleup client some time ago. I guess it pretty much applies to every growth situation.

Which of those topics causes recognition for you? Any you find this especially helpful? What would be on your NOT TO DO list?

Kristin Reinbach

As the owner of agency „OVERW8“ and building on more than 20 years experience in marketing, Kristin is consistently thinking along the terms of ‚customer value‘, ‚brand value‘ as well as business models. Consistently meaning when she’s out for dinner, sitting in a cosy ski hut as well as having a sundowner wine at a vineyard. Like this, it’s simple logic that her primary job now is to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams with this know-how to create more brand value, more customer value and thus more company value. She’s sharing some of these nuggets here on OVERW8’s blog.

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