Business Development & Sales

Business Development & Sales are crucial functions in most startups, with the company's growth potential and multi-million dollar deals typically on the line. From developing a cohesive BD & Sales strategy, to prioritizing prospects and delivering effective pitches, this section covers everything needed to tighten up your BD & sales organization.


The BD & Sales Team »

This section covers the people that make up your business development and sales teams. The Business Development and Sales functions of your company are crucial to its growth, so having a firm grasp on matters such as hiring a salesperson is key.

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The BD & Sales Team

Scott Britton

Ask yourself: are you relying on channel partnerships because it’s the best thing for your business or because you don’t know how to build a sales team? If you’re in the latter camp, you might be better served investing your time in finding someone who knows how to build sales teams.

 

Mark Suster

In life I’ve found it useful to have little frameworks to try and interpret the world through. They don’t always apply 100% of the time but they’re a useful way to shorthand.  The Journeymen, Mavericks and Superstars matrix has always suited me well and has stood the test of time.

 


BD & Sales Strategy »

Having a cohesive business development and sales strategy is an important factor in the growth of your company and the public persona in which it's positioned. This section covers everything from developing such a strategy to ensuring that you are addressing actual problems that a potential partner may have. 

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BD & Sales Strategy

Holger Luedorf

Solve problems, help partners reach their goals – This is one of the most critical business development tasks.  Partnerships never work when the benefits are one-sided.  In addition to helping you reach your own targets, you really have to figure out how your proposal helps the potential partner reach their goals.  Again, you would think this is a total no-brainer, but this does not seem to be the case judging by the large amounts of proposals that I get that are not really solving any of my company’s problems, or are so obviously mass-emails without any direct relation to myself or my organization.  I consider these proposals to be spam and will refuse even reading those emails once I realize what they are.

 

Scott Britton

Many startup founders are deathly afraid of building their own sales team. They default to channel partnerships to try and get distribution. Sigh. For those unfamiliar with the term, a channel partnership is when a person or organization sells products on behalf of another company. Partnerships like this can be great for both parties. But they also can also barely move the needle and be extremely time-consuming to develop. Here are a few things startup founders should consider when evaluating channel partnerships and whether this should be their go to market strategy.

 


Building a Pipeline »

Building a pipeline (or "hit list") is an essential aspect of any BD or Sales operation. It can help prioritize your targets, organize your outreach, and keep team members accountable. This section covers how to create and manage a pipeline, and also how to find prospect contact information.

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Building a Pipeline

 Holger Luedorf

Don’t just run off and randomly approach partners.  Once the goals are set, the first thing the BD team or person should do is set priorities in terms of who your ideal partners are.  

 

Scott Britton 

I’ve been doing some smiling and dialing recently and thought I’d share some free resources to find corporate phone numbers. I’m listing these in the order of how I approach finding one. The hierarchy of this list is determined by a combination of accuracy and speed.

 


Approaching Leads & Getting Meetings »

In most industries, potential partners face a deluge of inbound sales calls and partnership proposals, so the tactics you use to approach leads are incredibly important. From cold email tricks to psychology hacks, there are tools you can use to pique the interest of your target and to stand out from the crowd.

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Approaching Leads & Gettings Meetings

Holger Luedorf

Don’t just run off and randomly approach partners.  Once the goals are set, the first thing the BD team or person should do is set priorities in terms of who your ideal partners are.  This includes market sizing, market and competitive analysis, and a clear timeline.  If you are new to the industry you better start researching yesterday.  There is nothing worse than being pitched by someone who did not make the effort to understand your business and the challenges you are facing.  Secondly, you need to put a lot of work into figuring out how to approach these partners (more to that in point 3). Finally, you have to make sure you have all the necessary contacts to approach your target partners.  If not, work your network.  Cold calls are rarely effective.  Unless you come recommended by a trusted source, chances are very low that you will get someone’s attention.  Ideally, you have built up a ton of what I call “good karma” by helping out others friends in the industry in previous situation so that you can call in some favors and ask for introductions.

 

Scott Britton 

One of the most important things in writing an effective cold email is to keep it short. However, communicating all the things necessary to elicit a response in 3-4 sentences can be extremely challenging. One  way I’ve been able to overcome this and start dialogues with many c-level execs and big time entrepreneurs is by communicating my message in a more visually engaging format that’s easier to consume than text.



Pitching »

Partnerships and sales can be the lifeblood of your company, providing the potential to generate serious growth and revenue. When you've found your way into the door and are pitching a potential partner, it is crucial to minimize the risk of the deal not closing because of your poor performance. Therefore, being prepared, knowing what to say, how to say it, and being ready to handle hesitation are areas that you must nail down.

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Pitching
Holger Luedorf

In addition to a well thought out, mutually beneficial proposal, it is important to research your target partners.  To me this is like prepping for an interview.  Nothing worse than realizing that the person you are interviewing knows nothing about your company or the issues you are facing but at the same time tells you how “passionate” s/he is about your business.  Try to figure out what is top of mind for your potential partner. Is it facing a particular competitive thread, has it had a major product launch failure, has the team that you are speaking to experienced a recent change of executives etc. There are so many possible reasons that might make you want to tweak your approach, change your timing, etc.  It is always hard to know for sure what matters most, but I am a firm believer that solid preparation will help you produce better partnerships.

 

Scott Britton

You can leverage a likely relationship with a marquee partner without explicitly stating that you’re working together. This can be accomplished by implying you might be working together using a more indirect statement.

 


Negotiating & Closing »

Convincing a partner to work with you is only one part of the battle. Cementing the deal and nailing down the details is a process where many deals are unfortunately lost. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid losing a deal and to revive a dying a deal, such as utilizing a champion, gaining leverage, and speeding up time-to-close. This section breaks down these matters in full-detail.

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Negotiating & Closing

Scott Britton

One of the biggest challenges in sales and business development can be inspiring urgency to get a deal done. Just because someone perceives value in your offering, doesn’t mean they’ll make it a priority. There are a number of tactics I’ve used to push deals through the finish line. Though most of these have been in the context of API partnerships, these strategies can be effective in many situations.

 

Holger Luedorf

A bunch of great advice for startups that are just getting around to BD and what they should do and what they should not do.

 


Account Management & Relationships »

Once you have formalized a relationship with a partner, it is important to maintain the relationship to make the most out of it for your company for your partner. At times, relationships nevertheless go cold, so it's important to revive them. This section will help you make the most out of the relationships that your company has worked hard to form. 

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Account Management & Relationships

Holger Luedorf

The BD team is usually one of the most outward facing teams in a start-up and as such you will be able to collect a ton of valuable feedback for company.  A lot of partner meetings generate a lot of information like product critique, observation of what the competition is doing, insights into what partners would like to see in terms of product innovation etc.  Make it a point to regularly pass this knowledge on to the respective teams in the organization as it will help educating the organization and making more informed decisions.

 

 Scott Britton 

Here are a few tactics I’ve used to reinvigorate a cold conversation.