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3 Steps for Software Founders to Close Deals in the Early Days

Learn How to Maximize Your Close Rate Before Hiring a Team

NOTE: I originally wrote this for SaaSSales.io, a terrific resource for learning more about SaaS sales. I’m a founding and premium author over there so go subscribe and get the best content routinely.

Most software founders are technical founders. Engineers who came up with a great solution to a problem many have faced.

Like any engineer, they saw a need and they built a better way. Now it’s a matter of getting all those people you built this for, to actually see the value and use the solution.

There’s the rub.

At this point, many software founders look to outsource their sales, hoping an experienced salesperson will be able to convince the market to sign up for the new product.

However, even with no sales training or experience, it is absolutely critical for founders to run their own sales process in the early going.

First, as a leader, they should know how each piece of their business runs. Learning the ins and outs of each process and department can be very helpful as you scale.

Second, by being on the front lines selling, founders get an intimate look at what their market wants. They directly hear exactly what people are feeling and seeing, even looking into their eyes to see the depth of the pain they’re feeling.

This way, you can become very connected to your market, ensuring both expertise and sympathy for the struggle. This’ll further make development easier as you’ll gain a crystal-clear understanding of the common pains and goals the customer base has.

And lastly, if you know how the sales process should work ideally, it’ll be much easier to bring on a sales team and get them up to speed, allowing for quick scale.

So founders selling in the early days is the clear way to go.

But how?

With no sales training or experience, how do they know what to do? How will they know how to get started and develop a sales process that generates results and growth?

I’m glad you asked. Here are 3 steps to implement a proper sales process:

1. Truly Define Your ICP

A lot of new software founders I talk to and work with either have no idea who their customer is, or they have too broad a picture on who they want to sell to (“all large businesses” is not a good target market).

It’s very important to define your ICP, your Ideal Customer Profile.

This is the understanding of the key traits of your customer, both the company and the key person that you would work with while selling to that company.

Once you have a picture of who that person is (and you can have a few ICPs, up to 4 or 5), it makes it much easier for you to position and message your product along the entire buyer journey.

You’ll literally be able to market and sell directly to that person, that profile you’ve developed in your mind, making your targeting process much easier and eliminating any ambiguity for you and for your customers.

2. Figure Out Your Delivery Method

With software, there are two main options for delivery: self-service or a personalized approach.

Self-service means the users come to the site, can purchase, and can get started all on their own. In many cases, this involves a free trial, but not always.

The personalized approach involves an employee or outsourced agent connecting and selling on some level.

Either can work, and it really depends on a few factors to determine what works best for you.

  • If you have a simple product that is unique, easy to differentiate from other products, and at a low price point (usually under $50 total monthly), then you can do self-service.
  • However, if your product is similar to others, somewhat complicated, and more than $50 monthly, then a personalized approach is usually the best choice.

This way you can be sure to educate your buyers on the key differentiators of your product and the reasons why it will be the answer to their needs.

The personalized approach in most cases involves a product demo outlining the key advantages of using the solution.

There can also be a combination approach, used by many, where the lower pricing tiers are self-service, and the higher tiers are personalized.

Determine which method would be best for you.

3. Clearly Define Your Sales Process and Buyer Journey

You have an engineering process with sprints and release schedules.

You probably even have a marketing process with planned prospecting and lead generating activities.

But most totally forget to design out a sales process.

No, just hoping they like your thorough explanation of the product is not a sales process.

When you’re going up against several other companies, most of whom have professional sales teams, do you think a thrown together afterthought of a sales process is going to stand out to the buyer when compared to the other companies they’re looking at?

I don’t, either.

So don’t go in thinking you can wing it and they’ll love you (I tried this when I got started in SaaS- it did not go well).

Instead, find an expert who can show you exactly how to design and construct the entire buyer journey. How to make each step of the way planned out to maximize conversions and lead to more closed deals.

Ideally, you should work with someone who’s done it multiple times, and helped many others build out their process so they have experience in a variety of industries.

Many of my clients who have come to me for this have said getting this structured out was their biggest booster, getting a roadmap to the correct sales process so they didn’t have to go through months or years of trial and error struggle.

Thus, make sure you don’t go through that struggle trying to figure it out on your own either. Get a proper, structured sales process and watch the deals and the cash come flowing in.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it – 3 easy steps to get your business some early deals and early revenue, giving you the oxygen you need to scale and achieve your goals.

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