‘Sales’ is one of the functions in business that is closest to the customer. There are two big things that start-ups / entrepreneurs miss while handling this important function in business:
- Lack of methodological practices
- Lack of a formal feedback system from sales
If the first one is not done, most of the life of the start-up is lived using investor money. Eventually the start-up ceases to exist when investor money or patience dries up. In fact the second loss is much greater than the first one. This is because the start-up has actually invested effort in the sales function, and probably seen some revenues as well. Having come so far into making the start-up a reality, if we don’t learn from the sales activities, it is a great loss. Why is this so? Because, the sales functions is the place where the start-up and the customers meet, engage, and exchange. This results in both the sales people and the customers getting to know each other better. The level of engagement decides the level of knowledge of each other.
Every start-up needs to know the customer – as much as it can understand this group, the better! The problem is that this activity never finishes, because the start-up is changing, the customers are changing and so is the environment and possible interactions between them too. Gaining feedback from the sales people is the best thing a start-up can do to understand customers better. Consumer behaviour, traits, habits, etc can be easily understood by sales people and brought back to the enterprise. These inputs can help the entrepreneur / start-up team re-look at the product, offerings, business models, etc
If you as a start-up are not doing enough sales efforts – start it now!
If you as a start-up are not learning enough from sales interactions – start it today!
How should you do this? Get everybody into a single room, get the sales people to share their experiences, and let all others only ask questions to know more. No one should be allowed to criticize observations, no one should be allowed to dismiss observations, and also no one should be allowed to share opinions on observations. This is the only way to improve the product, the way it is offered, the business model, the marketing efforts, the operations, the sales efforts and may be even re-look at the customer segments themselves.
Think about it!