This might be one of the last videos that we post from the three Sales for Startups events that we’ve organized so far. The events drew lots of interest and attendees, and good viewership on the web. All this is attributed to some very valuable questions asked by the audience at the events, and equally valuable sales insights and tips shared by the panelists.
Check out the Lucep Youtube Channel to see all the event videos. In this post, we’re going to share the video and transcript of a particular question asked by Emily, an audience member who wanted to know how to scale long sales cycles. Each of the three panelists answered the question from their own different perspectives and experience.
Sarah Hales – Sales Manager, Dragonlaw;
Philip Tnee – Sales manager, Purpleclick Media; and
Patrick Barnes – CEO and Cofounder, Advocately.
Zal Dastur, Lucep: How do you scale sales that have long sales cycles and take a lot of effort? You know, Sarah, you said that you do have a long sales cycle. I can imagine Tradegecko as well…sales cycle must have been… So how do you scale that from a sales point of view?
Sarah Hales, Dragonlaw: Yeah, it’s tough. Yeah, it is. First thing, I’ll have a good mix of… one that allows your salespeople to specialize in the areas. Then we’ve got, sales..people in our sales team that specialize in early stage startups, ones that specialize in SMEs, and then ones that specialize in larger enterprise.
Having a variety of plans, not so many that’s confusing for the clients, but having a few different options. So even with the team that focuses on SMEs, there’s some lighter priced plans that he can put in the works, while they are working on the SMEs that are going to go for the larger plans as well.
Philip Tnee, Purpleclick: Just on the bit of a long sales cycle, right. I mean, one of the sharings that I have from Purpleclick, with one of our biggest clients is actually Harley Davidson. So you never expect a client like that to go with like a 60-man SME kind of agency where they go with the ppts and what have you, right? And, the approach that we took with that client – it took six months, and what happened was we actually see the custom made proposals for all these big fishes that we thought we were good to take bets on and of course all others rejected us right.
Harley had a point when we sent it to them they said “Yeah. This is great. You customized it totally for me. We’ll keep that in mind. And, sure enough, you know, six months later when they were thinking of right, maybe we should focus on little bit more on performance and even with branding templates and all that, they came back to us and they adopted everything that we proposed to them.
But it took 6 months for them to consider that. So I think seeding is a very good practical kind of approach to take when it comes to long tail clients. Even prospecting, you know, myself, when I was at Facebook, one of my biggest closures was ASUS. And I had prospected the head of social, let’s say – It was basic Tier 1 from LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Chatted him up, had a couple of informal conversations and I was just feeding him information all the time about product development, and you know new stuff on facebook, for a good 5-6 months, all of a sudden he comes back after like seven months, and then he tells me I’m shifting project from Hugo over to Facebook. I want to try one you’ve been telling me about. I finally got the jurisdiction to do it. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
So, it is always the case. I think you have a big fish that you just throw things across to… you have a mailing list or something and you build something for them that’s scalable. I think beyond that maybe having a repository is good as well. Because you know all these custom bets, all these things take so much effort and the last thing you want is just get someone new to build on this from scratch as well. So having a repository is good. Umm, and the last thing I think, thinking about the ad cover that you could have, maybe it’s unique to us because we are an agency, but we pull in guys from platforms it could be Uber guys and we bring them in these big meetings and sometimes just showing their name card has a lot of difference and, and people chose us because – Oh, you seem to be so much closer to the platforms than the other agencies are…and all kinds of stuff.
Sarah Hales: Just one more point on that…umm.. On the long sales cycle as well. It’s really important to do a lot of prior study, because you might have hit someone at the wrong time. You might have a famous solution for them, but they’ve gone through a large part of the sales cycle already. So while you are working on new leads, new sales cycle, here we have a sales team also looking at people that were spoken to 6 months ago, a year ago, who have already been through a portion of that sales cycle. Hit them again and you might get them at the right time, and they already understand the product. So there might be a quick way to scale away at that point.
Patrick Barnes: Scaling…along with sales cycle. I think the other thing as well, is especially for what’s if… I’m talking in context of an early stage startup, the only way along the sales cycles really work for early stage companies is – charge more money. Like there’s no, to charge more money or charge an annual contract is the only way.. So if you think of it as a quadrant right. If you’ve got really short sales cycles and the user gets set up by themselves, like it’s a short decision making process, sure, charge 10 dollars a month. But, you can be successful down there, and if the goal is here and time is here (referring to the y and x axis), you can be successful up here as well, if you charge lots of money, and it takes a long period of time. Over here is like the quadrant of death. Like if you are charging $10 a month and it takes a long time, like that’s, i don’t know any companies that…
Zal Dastur: I mean, I know for us, the longest that we’ve taken to close a customer, this was a global deal, with one of the largest financial institutions in the world. It took 2 years, right. And that’s two years of, we’d like a POC in this branch, and maybe one in that one, and that one, and that one. No, no, we will give you the deal but we just want to see that it works. And, you know, you invest so much time into this client that it’s almost like they know as well and yeah… and that’s what we had to do. We were like, alright guys, so for every time we come in now we are going to start charging.
Patrick Barnes: I think that’s okay. I think that it’s only us, there’s always gonna be outliers. Like, it’s okay to have some sales today, 3 months or 6 months or 12 months, for a free product. So like a, I just meant as a norm. That sort of, if we think of that in the form of 4 quadrants as a way to success.