If you’re a startup, you are most likely focused on one agenda - success. The passion of beginning a business that reaches prospects and changes the world with a go to market product or service is key.
As a startup, the goal is always to solve problems you have faced, offer solutions, and to find prospects that need you. To exist, that requires customers, the ability to grow, and to find individuals’ who need your solution.
This beginning phase is what often causes startups to miss the first steps. Before any business scales, founders need to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and acquire their first customers - crucial for instant feedback and developing a more refined sales process down the road. Without nailing this first step and jumping right into a scaled sales process will severely deplete many of your resources without providing much ROI.
For example, a startup came to us that was working with outbound prospects they acquired from a data vendor. These were personas they hypothesized would be the best buyer for their product. They set up half-baked sales funnels using expensive software they knew other companies were using but their sales were not bringing a return.
We audited their process and found that the problem was they went from 0-100 instead of 0-1. They didn’t leverage much cheaper, low barrier to entry sales methods to find what would work and how to reach their target market, they grabbed at a strategy and ideal to aggressively make the approach work.
Step 1: Phasing in Your Outbound Journey
The first step with your startup is to start an outbound journey that is effective and gets results.
If you show up on the first day of your business and start prospecting without deeper knowledge, then you are taking a blindfold and hoping you will hit the mark.
Instead, look at your outbound journey as a science experiment.
These action steps will get you through the first steps of your business and set you up for success.
- Brainstorm your audience. Look at prospects by identifying who may be interested in your solutions. Where do they live? What do they look like? What are they interested in? How do they think? Don’t start small. Think about your TAM (total addressable market) and use this to further define next steps.
- Set up a target. For example, if you focus on targeting sales directors of software companies in the Bay Area , where will you find them, how will you reach them and what results will you get? Have a granular,defined, and repeatable approach to reaching those who are interested in your startup. This could include posting on facebook groups, generating interest from Product Hunt, looking through LinkedIn, or finding niche groups online that may be interested in your business brand.
- Test. Set a specific amount of time and date to make sure you are getting results. For example, the next 2 - 4 weeks will focus on finding ways to close your target market. Your testing should include all forms of communication and should focus on split testing emails, trying different scripts, and identifying communication that works.
- Analyze. What worked and what didn’t work? Make sure you are clear about the approaches you used and what you need to do to get results.
- Survey. The best way to follow through with a test is to get feedback. Not only do you want an internal analysis, but also want to look at the opinions of those who were a part of your initial customer journey to see the impressions they had with your outbound journey.
This is how you begin to see results that are helping you to reach your goals and create a wheelhouse within your company that is much more effective than before.
Step 2: Defining Your Lifecycle
Without testing the first stages of your outbound journey, defining a complete cold to close lifecycle is ineffective.
The customer journey is dependent on putting one foot in front of the other. If your goal is brand awareness as phase 1 and trying to warm up cold leads, but don’t have a follow-up that is effective, then you lose prospects.
This means that every stage of cold to close needs to be in question.
When someone is looking at your brand for the first time and is considered cold, you need to have ways to provide information and results they are interested in.
Once you have an interested target market, define ways to bridge them to a final sale. You may find that getting to the purchase stage takes too long or has potential customers losing interest. This is a second stage that helps you to build relationships and create a deeper understanding of your brand.
Keep testing this stage of your lifecycle until you can get individuals to turn their heads and effectively begin to build interest in your business. For example, get a better pitch deck, create demos, build surveys, or find references for customers.
Even after a customer has purchased a product or is loyal, you need to follow the same formula. Understand how to close prospects and to continue to nurture them. You want business advocates. If you don’t define this at the seed stage, then growth and scaling will become a difficult battle.
Step 3: What Not To Do
As you are testing and defining what you need to do, remember what you shouldn’t do. This is one of the areas where many startups stop reaching the success they should achieve.
- Don’t outsource. Until you have tested your outbound strategy continuously, outsourcing will be a waste of money. You won’t know the formulas that are successful or not or how to reach prospects you can close. Hustle first. Outsource later.
- Don’t grab leads. Not every lead is a good lead. And those that are good are gold. Make sure you start to look at the exact lead that is qualified as a prospect for your business. You may find that the expected target market isn’t always what you thought it should be.
- Don’t skip the close. A prospect that closes is your highlight to getting results. Having a large list of prospects is only the beginning of the journey. If you don’t know how to close your leads, then you need to re-check your tests.
Unless you are aware of the exact communication and target from cold to close, you are wasting time and money.
Establish your journey first through testing and analysis. Model out your audience and understand your TAM - how big is this market and how much can I capture? Ask friends, family, random connections on Linkedin if they are experiencing the same problem you’re looking to solve. Start running small tests by manually prospecting and sending out emails to get feedback on your pitch - include that in the email! Once you have this established, then you are ready to graduate. You can to take your findings and go to the next level of business while scaling your cold to close journey.