Guest Post: Startup Business Development 101

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.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

How to Ask Someone if They’re A Decision Maker

Scott Britton 

Meetings can be a colossal waste of time especially in a field that harbors speculative conversations like Business Development. When appropriate, one practice I use to maximize meeting efficiency is to email the meeting attendee(s) an agenda 2-3 hours prior to the meeting. These emails typically contain the meeting objective, an outline of what will be discussed, and any questions that I know that I’ll be asking.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

Storytelling in Sales and How to Do It

Scott Britton 

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past year is how powerful storytelling in sales can be. I always try to incorporate stories when I’m  describing a product for a few reasons.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

BD 101: How to Handle A Request You Can’t Accomodate

Scott Britton 

At some point in a deal, partnership, or sale you’re bound to encounter request that you can’t accommodate. “Does your product have this feature too?” “Can we have it for this price instead?” There’s a right and a wrong way to handle these type of situations. Within the framework of striving to drive the most possible value for your company, the goal is to persuade the other side to maintain compliance despite the fact that you can’t accommodate a request.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

Why I Make Fun of My Life When I Pitch

Scott Britton 

Every time I’m pitching someone, I always try to make fun of my life in some way. In fact, I intentionally seek out opportunities to do this. A lot of business development and sales is about likability. Given two equal products, buyers will purchase from the seller they like more. Hence, by making myself more likable, I increase my odds of succeeding.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

BD Best Practice: Send A Meeting Agenda

Scott Britton 

Meetings can be a colossal waste of time especially in a field that harbors speculative conversations like Business Development. When appropriate, one practice I use to maximize meeting efficiency is to email the meeting attendee(s) an agenda 2-3 hours prior to the meeting. These emails typically contain the meeting objective, an outline of what will be discussed, and any questions that I know that I’ll be asking.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

BD 101: How to Prevent and Navigate Prospects From Going Cold – Part 1

Scott Britton 

Anyone in business development or sales has probably had someone go cold on them. Everything seems to be going well than the person on the other side stops responding to your emails or calls.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

BD 101: What Doctors Can Teach Us About Pitching

Scott Britton 

You finally get that meeting. All you want to do is tell them how awesome your product is before you have any clue why it may be awesome for them.  You charge forward selling, hoping that at some point something you say resonates. At the end of the meeting they seem interested, but strangely you never hear from them again. They don’t respond to your emails. They don’t answer your calls. And the worst part is, you have no idea why. Sound familiar?



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

How to End A First Pitch and Owning the Sale

Scott Britton

Your pitch goes perfect, the guy on the other side is fired up…this one is in the bag! But what unfolds is different than what you expected. Your emails go unreturned. Your calls are ignored. You’re left scratching your noggin at the radio silence. This ever happen to you? It has to me plenty and in retrospect it could have been potentially avoided. The end of the pitch is always about next steps. This is where you need to find out exactly what their process is and supplant yourself in it…with force!

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

Good Bizdev Cannibalizes Itself

Chris Dixon

There is no question that removing legal and technical hurdles is a win for everyone (except lawyers). However, unless your service is extremely high profile and its value is easily understood, it still needs to be marketed to potential partners. Many websites won’t consider using a self-service API until they’ve seen it working on other sites with measurable results. So how do you overcome this particular kind of chicken-and-egg problem?

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

The Danger of Crocodile Sales

Mark Suster

Crocodile Salesmen are people who are always talking.  They’re pitching to you.  They don’t take the time to realize what your true motivations are because they’re too busy telling you what they THINK you want to hear. Trust me – your chances of selling are much lower if you’re talking rather than actively listening.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

How to Present at Big Meetings without Going Down a Rat Hole

Mark Suster

Congratulations. On a sales campaign you’ve finally gotten your project sponsor to take you to the “executive committee” where decisions are made and budgets are agreed. So you arrive at the meeting in the comfort that somebody has championed you to this point.  Every 1:1 meeting you’ve had to date has been collegiate and productive.  What could go wrong?  A lot, actually.  Here are some tips to keep in mind for the big day.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

A Tale of Two Pitches

Mark Suster

A few weeks ago I sat through two very contrasting presentations and wrote this blog post right afterward.  I’m just getting around to posting now.  Both presenters are anonymized.  I hope that when you’re presenting to a VC this will give you some sense of what might be going on in our minds.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

The Best VC Meetings are Discussions not Sales

Mark Suster

I’ve sat through a lot of VC pitches and having been CEO of an enterprise software firm for many years I’ve also sat through many customer meetings with sales teams. There is one classic mistake that I see across both types of meetings – “the tell & sell”  presentation.  This involves a person who leads a PowerPoint presentation in which the presenter feels more comfortable racing through pre-practiced slides and rattling off charts & bullet points than having a discussion.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching

Why Startup Pitches Fail (and How to Fix Them)

Pitches usually fail because they answer the wrong questions. The right questions depend on the stage of your business—for example, some businesses are just getting started with an idea, while others are printing money. Focus your pitch on the key questions for your stage and if you keep getting non-key questions, something is wrong with your pitch. This post includes a hierarchy that you can use to classify your business and the key questions for each stage in the hierarchy.

 



Filed Under:
Collection: Business Development & Sales
Category: Pitching