Unexpectedly good time to call

If you need to call someone that is notoriously busy and difficult to get a hold of: call them 5 mins before the hour.

I know that sounds crazy, but trust me it works for people who tend to be “very busy” and have less structure around their time.

This can give you 2 mins you get their attention.

Enough time to:

  • qualify them in or out of your sales process

  • share your sales micro-content to influence them to the next stage

Give it a try!


It can sometimes be a wonderful thing for your startup to partner with a bigger organisation. Larger partner organisations can provide access to their customers and markets which can significantly impact on your success  

Here are the benefits: 

  • Access a network of existing customer relationships. Saving you heaps of time and leg work. 
  • Leverage a bigger and more well known brand than yours. They have generally been around for decades. 
  • The relationship may lead to an acquisition of your startup in the future!   

Successful  partnerships need to provide value for both parties. 

Here are a few things that can help your startup be a valuable partner: 

  • Find ways to enhance your partner’s value to their customers. This might involve understanding what they struggle with and helping them to solve it. 
  • Don’t just wait for them to open customer opportunities. Talk to your own network and see if you can open opportunities for them also. The larger partners hardly ever see that happen. It will make your startup stand out from the crowd. 
  • Always bring your “A-Game”. Partners need to be sold to first. Once they are confident you can deliver they will then open the door to their customers. 

Here are some caveats: 

  • Clearly define what you will and will not do as a partner and then stick to it. You need to have the same consistent message to everyone in that organisation.    
  • Don’t let them push you around. If you feel the relationship is not equal then it is better to walk away. In negotiation always understand what your “BATNA” is. 
  • Understand that partnerships take time. Don’t expect them to fully trust you straight away. Many larger partners have been burnt by smaller partners being greedy and not keeping their end of the relationship. 

Remember that partnerships are not based on paper contracts but personal relationships of trust and mutual respect. Anyone can be a partner to a big organisation. To really make it work requires you to make effort in building value and managing those relationships.   



Our reaction to loss

This week while moving offices I lost my best sunglasses. They were an expensive purchase that I had enjoyed for the last 6 months. 

At the moment of loss the feeling was quite intense! I would have done anything to go back in time and take a little extra care of those glasses. 😎

The next day my wife mentioned that I should sell a bicycle that had received little use since I purchased it. The sale of a second hand bike was equal to the repurchase of a new set of sun glasses.  

But my initial reaction was “meh!”.

I knew I could make this gain and make up for my loss, but I didn’t feel that interested.  

This reaction is common across social science research: we react more strongly to loss than to gain. 

Does the messaging from your startup take into account your customers’ loss if they don’t buy from you? It might be worth exploring that possibility...  


Shaping our perceptions

So much of our world is based on our natural and learned filters.

Powerful brands don’t try to sell to us, but seek to influence the way we think. 

An influential brand makes sales easy. 

As a startup founder how can you leverage your personal and business brand to influence the way people think?  

If you think powerful brands affect the way you spend, please tell me which one in the comments below. If you don’t believe brands affect you, please tell me why.  

Here are a few ideas on how to leverage your startup and personal brand: 

  • Categorise your competitors in a way that makes it difficult for them to fight back. If you do it well the more they work against that perception, the more it will reinforce the difference. 
  • As a startup you have no history. You are not tied down to the past. You are free to build the brand that suits you now! 
  • Once you decide on what your brand is, then reinforce it on everything that you do. All your selling. With your cofounders. With your employees. LinkedIn posts. Advertising. YouTube videos. 




Slow down!

When you have your sales meetings, you need to be in a relaxed mental state.  

I have seen the following factors disrupt me in meetings: 

  • I am new and still feel uncomfortable with either the people around me or the content being covered.  
  • I allow stress to get a hold of me.  
  • I am relying on other technical experts in the room and this makes it difficult for me to provide a meaningful contribution .

Feeling stress and anxiety in a sales environment reduces our cognitive ability to that of a 12 year old. Even if we are a smart PHD our fear will cause us to stumble on our words and miss obvious social cues. 

If anxiety is affecting you and your ability to sell here are some activities that help me:

  • Write it down. Discover what the causes are and do something about it. 
  • Give it time and be patient with yourself. You will get better at this job. Reflect on your past successes.  
  • Talk about it with a trusted colleague.  
  • Exercise. 
  • Bring humour into the conversation. Laugh 😂  



Finding your Hook

How do you confirm best strategy on selling your startup product to your customers? 

Just like fishing you need the right hook to land your customer. 

In all my career the best way to sell has been knowing what my customers will respond to best. Knowing that if I say “X” then they will likely respond with a “Y”.  

If they do not respond in the way I expect them either I do not understand them well enough or they are not the right customer.  

Before you know what hook to use, here are some questions you could ask:

  1. Why did you accept my call or meeting request? (This will help you know if they have something pressing to tell you now. Such as they need to purchase immediately or they have an emergency that they need your help with.  
  2.  What are you currently using and are you happy with it?  (Deeper understanding. You could also ask them a NPS (Net Promoter Score) question to drill down deeper.  
  3.  If you were wanting to make a chance, what would cause you to take action?  (Getting deeper into their motivation to change and how likely they will do it).  
  4.  What is your organisation’s decision process?  (By far this is the most important question to ask in a meeting. It helps you and the customer to start thinking about steps needed to turn this into a reality).  

These steps are you need to over time uncover the right approach to sell to your customers. 


Top 10 Sales Methodologies - by HubSpot

In a recent article, HubSpot has listed the following top ten sales methodologies:

  1. SPIN Selling
  2. NEAT Selling
  3. Conceptual Selling
  4. SNAP Selling
  5. The Challenger Sale
  6. The Sandler System
  7. CustomerCentric Selling
  9. Solution Selling  
  10. Inbound Selling  

A couple of methodologies were completely new to me.  

Behind each of these methodologies, is a sales training company that makes money from teaching and training it all over the world.  

Some of them rely on claiming to have researched thousands of organisations in order to develop their methodology.

I am suspicious about “independent research” that has not been independently peer reviewed. It is too much of a leap of faith for me to believe.  

On the positive, a sales methodology helps the organisation to have a commmon reference point and a good way to onboard new staff.  

So shop around and find out what methodology suits your startup best! More importantly make sure the sales trainer you hire knows how to translate the theory into applicable knowledge.





Three Simple Steps to get a meeting with a prospective customer

A customer cannot purchase from you unless they know you first. The first meeting with a senior executive allows you to build a relationship which might lead to future sales.

Step One: Call out what you have in common 

You must find a way to establish an existing connection with your target customer. The stronger the connection the more likely they will keep reading.  

Step Two: Explain what you do, the value you bring and what you need from them 

 It needs to be a simple way of introducing your startup and how you could help them. You also want to outline your intention to ask for advice or to share something of value with them. 

Step Three: Ask for a meeting at a specific time 

Asking someone if they can meet you at a certain day and time often makes people check their availability before they think about whether they want to meet you in the first place! It is a little hack that will increase your chances of a meeting.

Sending these emails may look simple, but it is not easy. Follow this process and keep your wording simple and uncomplicated. 


How to avoid joining startups that will go nowhere

Steve Jobs had a powerful influencing skill, that his engineers called the “Distortion Reality Field” . He could convince his engineers that a particular feature WAS possible, despite universal agreement before the meeting that it was not. Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs illustrated how this helped engineers to turn what was impossible into a reality. 

Early stage startup technical founders can also display this skill. They are convinced that the technology they have just given birth to will take over the world. 

Unfortunarely in their case this can be a very bad thing. The majority of startup founders are not billionaires with huge resources and talent to make things happen. They will waste many months of your career chasing rainbows and unicorns. 

Here is what you can do to detect a distortion reality field: 

  • Speak to their customers. Why did they buy the product? What is the maximum amount they will pay on renewal? Make sure they are not getting a free trial or heavily subsidised subscription. 
  • Understand the real business value (not technical value) that their product offers. At some point a business leader within an organisation needs to sign a check. They need to be convinced it will bring value to the business.  
  • Try to understand what has been been the obstacles in the past with selling this product. What will make it the future any different?

Look past the glittering lights and see what it’s actual value is. 

By doing this you will potentially be saving yourself 6-24 months of your career.