Are you building a start-up business?
Do you know your potential buyers?
A startup is generally brought about by an entrepreneur or entrepreneurs, derived from a bright idea. This idea might be based on an observed opportunity, feedback from businesses or people about a service or product they might desire, or any other of a number of inspirations. That idea is then brought to reality, and the start-up is born.
At some point, however—ideally before the business is founded or a product or service is actually produced—it is vitally important that those directly engaged in running the business learn everything they can about their potential buyers.
Would they really want what you are offering? How would your offering fulfill their needs? What are they willing to pay? How do they normally purchase such items? All too often one or more of these questions are left unanswered until it is too late; investors have invested, facilities have been leased, employees are on the payroll—and the actuality is not matching up to the dream.
Nothing Like Digging In
While the wrong time to research these matters is after the business is up and running, it is more common than not that this is when it happens. If so, it is certainly never too late, even if not ideal. No matter when it occurs, the most important thing is to really dig in and learn everything you can about who will be buying your product or service.
This should include answering the questions listed out above—but it actually should go far beyond those. What kind of people are your buyers? What problems do they encounter that your product or service would solve? Who is your competition, and how will you compete with them? If companies will be your buyers, you should not only answer these questions for the company types and their purchasing agents, but also for the industry of which the companies are a part. If your customer companies also sell or resell your product or service, you should certainly find out about their buyers, too.
The research you conduct should also include your potential buyers’ buying profile. This is especially important in B2B (business-to-business) start-up enterprises: how does a potential purchase make its way through your target company? What are their budget cycles? Is there a seasonal aspect to their buying?
Ask anyone who has done this: you will always be surprised by the answers, and those answers will be more valuable than gold to your business. It is time very well spent.
Informing Your Business
The data so obtained then needs to be used. It should inform everything from your marketing materials and your press releases to your sales approach, product names and even product designs.
Formulating Your Sales Process
The sales process—that exact series of steps followed from lead to close—is normally created through consultation of your most experienced and successful sales reps. That way the less-experienced salespeople can follow in the winning footsteps with each and every sale. It is well-known that an established and closely followed sales process greatly increases close rates.
But the data gathered in learning all about your buyers should also play a great part in formulating your sales process. The sales process, wherever possible, should be a reflection of the buying patterns of your potential customers. In this manner a sale follows right along that same pattern, through your company’s reflective sales process, and nothing is ever missed.
All of the research that you conduct, along with the sales process you evolve, should in turn be the foundation of the CRM system that you employ. Automation is there to back up sales and the rest of your company, not (as is too often the case) to create yet another set of tasks to be attended to. When CRM reflects everything you know about your buying public, it can do nothing else than be a total support. It then fulfills the function for which it was designed: the empowering interface between your company and its customers.
So right from the inception of your start-up, know your buyers. Find out everything you possibly can about them. Then use that information to take your company to the next level and beyond.
Stay tuned for more articles in our series on startups.