Category Archives: Sales

All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders

As a former CEO and software engineer (Citrix, XenSource, VERITAS, etc.), board member of GitHub (recently acquired by Microsoft), and lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Busines, a16z general partner Peter Levine is constantly asked “Why sales?” by entrepreneurs and technical founders. He himself used to hold the “engineer-centric” view that if you build a great product, customers will come. But the fact is, all world-class companies must have a strong sales force. So — how do they get there? How does a technical founder begin to build a top tier sales motion?

In this series of snack-sized videos — which you can watch all together, or mix-and-match for your particular questions and needs — Levine distills the fundamentals that every founder should know about sales. The 16 lessons in this “mini-MOOC” offer everything from definitions to concrete guidance for the following:

1. All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders [Introduction]

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The End of Credit Card Signatures

What Does It Mean for Your Small Business?

By Andrey Bobrovskiy, smallbizdaily.com

Have you noticed something different about your in-store transactions recently? If so, that’s likely because the end of the signature requirement announced by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover is finally coming into effect. Although it affects just one step in the payment process, it means a lot more for your small business in the long run.

It Makes Checkouts More Convenient

The payment card industry has been moving toward simplicity and convenience for years. Customers want seamless and secure methods of paying for goods and services, while merchants seek reliable and flexible ways to process these payments across a variety of channels. This paved the way to innovative forms of payments, including those using near-field communication and virtual reality.

However, convenience isn’t always about adding new features. Oftentimes less is more, and this happens to be the case with credit card signatures. By now, they’ve simply outlived their usefulness, a fact supported by Mastercard’s revelation that it already didn’t require signatures for 80 percent of its transactions even before the changes went into effect. Continue reading

What makes or breaks a successful small business?

business colleagues high fiving

What makes or breaks a successful small business? There are several key commonalities among businesses that succeed, according to several studies polling entrepreneurs.

Here’s a closer look at four things successful business owners do right—and one thing they need to do better.

What successful entrepreneurs do right

  1. They start strong. In a poll of 500 successful entrepreneurs, a whopping 84% of respondents say their companies achieved profitability within their first four years in business. In fact, 68% became profitable within the first year. Only 8% became profitable after their fifth year in business, suggesting that the first years in business are make-or-break ones for most entrepreneurs.
  2. They focus on finding new customers. Small business owners in the survey say finding new customers is their top business challenge—far ahead of cash flow issues or dealing with the competition. Smart entrepreneurs stay focused on continually generating new leads and closing new business.
  3. They put cash back into the business. Forty percent of business owners say whenever they have surplus cash, they put it back into the business rather than paying themselves, a separate study found. What’s more, 47% tap into personal savings to finance their businesses at one point or another.
  4. They work hard. Never let it be said small business owners are slackers. Some 86% work on the weekends; 23% take fewer than two vacation days total all year long; and of those who do take vacations, 75% work during their time “off.” Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I increase sales productivity?

by Ken Sethney, Volunteer Mentor, Kitsap SCORE 

Let me begin by saying that I have tremendous respect for sales people. They have an extremely difficult and vitally important job. When they are successful, everyone wins —customers, owners, managers, widget makers, support staff, and consultants.

Therefore, it is in everyone’s interest that sales people are given the support, encouragement and tools they need to succeed. To that end, I offer the following strategies for increasing sales productivity. When they are successfully implemented, your customers and everyone in your organization will benefit.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I improve my selling skills?

As the owner of a small business, you may be struggling with a frustrating reality. You are confident that you have excellent products and services, but people aren’t just lining up to buy them.

You know that you can solve problems for your customers and deliver significant value for a reasonable price. All you have to do is convince them to place an order.

Unfortunately, sales skills don’t come naturally to everyone, but they are essential if you want to build relationships with potential customers and generate orders for your products and services.  Continue reading

What Online Marketing Tactics Generate the Best B2B Leads?

The days of B2B businesses generating leads via sales letters and cold calls are long gone. Today, savvy B2B marketers use online marketing to attract qualified leads. But which digital marketing tactics work the best for this purpose?

Here’s what a recent survey of B2B marketers in the 2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing has to say.

Social media, email and search are the most popular lead generation tactics…

Some digital lead generation tactics are almost universally employed. For example, 95 percent of B2B marketers surveyed use social media to generate leads, 93 percent use email marketing and 91 percent use organic search.

…but that doesn’t mean they’re the most effective.

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It’s time you learned about the art of referrals.

You have a business, but are people talking about it?

man holding card referralsWord-of-mouth is just as relevant today as it has ever been. When a business asks you to talk about how great they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, that’sword-of-mouth. When you provide good content that others can share, that is also word of mouth. Today, potential customers are more likely to pay attention to people they know and a large general following (e.g., Yelp) than if they see the same commentary in a company advertisement.

In fact, they’ll pay much more attention. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association published some research a couple years ago that found “the value of a word of mouth impression is from five to 100+ times more valuable than a paid media impression.”

You don’t have to spend all day convincing people to spread the word about your new business on social media.

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