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Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #174
A little less crying. A little more entrepreneur-ing.
First, a huge thanks to everyone who replied to last week’s issue of EOH. I wrote about how nobody registering for Autopest, the new startup I’m building in public, and lots of people responded to explain why and give feedback. Some people even registered.
Unfortunately, I think the reason some of you replied is because I came off as a bit of a crybaby. Believe it or not, that wasn’t my intention, and I wasn’t trying to throw shade at anyone. I was genuinely attempting to highlight the fact that customer acquisition for startups isn’t magic (even when you have a big community) and that entrepreneurs have to work hard to get users. However, in retrospect, I can see how that newsletter may have seemed whiny.
Sorry! My bad! You’re all the best, and I love you!
Part of the problem might be that building a startup in public is creating more content than I can reasonably squeeze into this one newsletter. To help with that, I’m finally going to do what some of you have been emailing about for a while… I’m going to return to my twice-weekly publishing schedule. Look for that to happen starting next week.
For now, enjoy the usual assortment of articles in this issue, and thanks, again, for reading. You all really are the best!
You don’t have to like broccoli to appreciate the entrepreneurial wisdom of the broccoli industry.
Do you want more investors interested in investing in your startup? Then you need to learn how to send high-quality emails.
Office Hours Q&A
Hey Dr. Dinin!
It’s been about five years since I was actually in your class. I enjoy still getting to learn about entrepreneurship from you through these weekly newsletters, and I’m glad so many other people are getting to learn as well. The things I learned in your class are still some of the most important skills I use every day in my career.
One thing I wish I had listened more about was your sales advice. Sales is much more important than I realized, and I do more with sales now than I ever thought, so I was hoping you could tell me more about the best strategies you have for closing more sales.
In the startup I currently work for, we’re very good at getting calls and demos booked, but our close rates are quite bad. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Sure! Let’s start with Thought #1:
I told you sales is more important than everything else!
Sorry. I couldn’t ignore a good “I told you so” moment. Now for the advice…
Based on what you’ve described, if you’re getting a good number of calls booked but you’re not getting good close rates, the problem is qualification. The leads you’re getting aren’t well-qualified to use your product.
Qualification issues happen at two points in the pipeline. First is with your top-of-funnel marketing. Whoever is in charge of your marketing isn’t doing a good job of delivering a focused message that says exactly what your startup does and who it’s for. The result is lots of low-quality leads.
This often happens when marketing teams are out-of-sync with sales teams. I’m guessing your marketing team is getting judged on the number of leads it generates. They’re probably patting themselves on the back because they’re pushing anyone and everyone through the funnel using broad, generic targeting and messaging. To fix this, your organization needs to factor lead quality into the way it evaluates marketing success.
Your second pipeline issue is your qualification process. Based on what you’ve written, it seems like your pipeline jumps from marketing to call/demo with nothing in between. Can you add a layer for qualification into the process?
Not knowing exactly what your company is and what you’re selling, I can’t tell you what to add, but I can give some vague descriptions. If you’ve got a high-dollar sale and your marketing leads turn into phone calls, then you want to add some sort of qualification call before the actual sales call to make sure you’re getting higher quality leads.
Conversely, if you’ve got a self-serve product, you can improve qualification by requesting extra info during the registration process or asking for a credit card up front (i.e. to access a free trial). Yes, when you add more steps to your funnel, the number of leads are going to decrease, but that’s a good thing. You’re removing less-serious buyers from your pipeline and saving yourself tons of time.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!