Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

Opinion

Entrepreneur lesson #6: Inbound sales is an illusion

Leestijd: 4 minuten

Everyone dreams of a situation where, rather than pound the pavement and press the flesh, customers just show up at your doorstep and demand to give you money in return for whatever you’re offering. These situations do happen in companies that have hit the tornado and are experiencing rapid growth. Unfortunately, many startup founders I meet and work with have the belief that their offering will be of that nature, too.

The idea that creating a lot of noise on social media and expecting to see a slew of customers knocking on your door, desperate to buy what you’re selling, is a complete and utter illusion for early-stage startups. As a nice anecdote, the head of sales at one of the startups I worked with built up a complete toolchain for inbound sales with tons of automation to involve sales staff as late in the process as possible, when all that was left was to close the deal. When revenue was disappointing and we evaluated where it was coming from, it turned out that all deals were closed by the sole traditional, cold-calling salesperson we had in the company.

Especially in the early days of a startup, sales is incredibly important as it’s the key feedback mechanism the company has to understand what works and doesn’t work for customers. As we discussed in lesson #3, what customers say is far less important than what they do. And customers parting with their money to get access to your offering is one of the most important signals that you’re on the right path.

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