As entrepreneurs, we are taught to spend time validating the market for our product or service before investing a lot of time in development. Most of the time, it involves the founders talking directly to customers or potential customers, understanding their pains, problems, and how their potential solution could help solve these problems (to learn more about this, check out Lean Startup by Eric Reis). Or sometimes, you discover that your original idea was terrible and you need to pivot to what the market is demanding. But ultimately, we create an MVP (minimum viable product) and we are off to the races.
Unfortunately, something happens after we complete our product, raise a round or two, and hire a kick-ass sales team to take over the daily responsibility of speaking to our customers: we stop listening to our customers’ needs and start pitching. Why is this?
It’s true, most sales processes loosely align to the following steps:
But wait…those customers whose feedback we originally valued so much…what happened to them? Did they give us all their ideas? Was their original problem static and now completely solved? Most likely not.
The point at which you’ve delivered enough traction to hire a sales team, invest in marketing and focus on high growth, is where you have the opportunity to further add value to your product and potentially dramatically grow ARPU and sales velocity by continually uncovering your customers’ needs.
The foundation to enable this starts with a sales process rooted in Discovery, which I like to call “Discovery and Qualification”. Figure out what’s happening with the prospect that’s making them want to speak with you. If it’s a cold call, figure out what’s happening that is of urgent concern to the prospect and is relevant to your solution.
There are plenty of sales processes that help with Discovery and Qualification, my all time favorite being the Sandler Sales Methodology, although I modify it a bit from the traditional method. Feel free to share yours and add comments on what’s working for your team.