There are 2 skills that will always be needed:
- The ability to build a product
- The ability to sell a product or service
If you have one of these skills, then you’ll always be able to find a job. Similarly, if you have one of these skills, then you’ll always have a place at a startup company.
The mistake business-focused professionals make in startups
There are a ton of business-focused entrepreneurs looking for a developer to join their company and build their product. The sad truth is that the majority of these business-focused entrepreneurs will never find a developer and their dreams will never become a reality. Worse, if they opt to pay a freelancer to build their product, they end up with a buggy, not-good-enough product that they paid for out of their own pockets.
Think of it from the perspective of the engineer. The engineer has the ability to build the product, while you don’t. What will you do while the engineer builds the product? Sure there is a ton of work to do on the customer development and funding side, but really, the engineer doesn’t see it that way; the engineer sees himself as doing all the work, while you go around and talk to people – it’s very difficult to show tangible accomplishments when your job is to meet people and build relationships.
Close deals or go home
Early-stage startups have no need for a community manager (you have no users) or an account manager (you have no clients). The only useful skill that a business-focused professional can bring to an early stage startup is the ability to close a deal: paying clients means revenue that the company can use to hire more engineers, more sales people, and leverage to raise funding.
But the ability to close deals doesn’t just apply to getting clients or raising funding. It also applies to convincing engineers to leave their corporate job to join your startup for a much lower salary; it also applies to convincing the press to write about your early-stage startup so that you can get an influx of users or leverage the story to close client deals.
How to improve your sales opportunities
By far the best book that I’ve read about closing deals is Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. The principles taught in the book will greatly improve your ability to close a deal once you have the introduction.
But if you’re just starting out, your problem isn’t that you can’t close deals, it’s that you have no leads in the first place. How can you get someone to actually give you a chance to pitch them?
It’s all about persistence, tenacity, and hustle:
1. Email 10 new professionals per day: this must become habit. Send an email to 10 new professionals every day. When you’re a young company with no brand and no capital for advertising dollars, sales is a numbers game. Stay consistent and stay focused – hit the goal of 10 new email per day and you’ll schedule meetings purely because of your persistence.
2. Write 2 posts per week on your company blog: thought leadership is important, it allows you to later take your expertise and write for larger publications that have an established audience. Stay consistent and stay focused – 2 blog posts a week is what you need to leverage your content and go for the bigger publications, which will actually bring you clients.
3. Write 1 article per week contributing to an online publication that your target market reads: tough to do at the beginning, but once you’ve established some credibility via your blog, you can start to write for external publications. Start small at the beginning: write a guest blog post for a small blog in your industry. Take that guest post to a blog that’s slightly bigger and leverage it to contribute an article. Keep climbing the ladder until you contribute posts for the biggest blogs in your vertical.
4. Utilize LinkedIn and schedule lunches with people in your network: nothing beats face-to-face interaction. Find people in your network that are local to you and invite them to lunch. They may not become your client, but there is a high chance that they know people that may want to use your product or service.
Jun Loayza is the President of Lion Step Media. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi’s, LG, and Activision.