My software company has developed an innovative software product which solves a major problem faced my our niche corporate segment. What we offer is a whitelabled solution of the software system we have developed. Therefore each project may have a different scope of development attached to it. To execute it we would need to show them what we are capable of and understand what their requirement is. Then we have to evaluate the gap, the required development. Once the requirement is finalised we build and launch the product in phases.
We have reached out to these company marketing heads, executives, ceos directly, mostly through Linkedin. And almost every company has gotten back to us.
We've had the initial meetings with some, and the response is positive.
But we dont have a sales process, and I am not clear what the next step is because of that. I want to have a proper plan to take these corporate clients from first meeting to signing a contract. Contract size could go up to couple of million dollars. And I want to model a step by step process so I would know which territory we are in and what my next goal should be, without coming off as clueless and uncertain.
Appreciate your help in this.
Until you actually take the first client from first contact (not even meeting) to signing a contract, you will not know the process. Without this experience, you cannot model a process (I suppose you could, but it will be wrong).
This is why founder sales is the critical first part of developing any sales process (the others being explorer, SWAT, and infantry stages)- it is really still product development because you may be faced with the "but can you add this" sort of input in the early meetings. You have to know what you can and cannot do, something a sales person will not know.
Only after you have drafted the very broad outlines, and have gotten both sales and no-sales will you have understanding of how the target clients buy. You also have to fully understand who the 3 buyers are (technical, functional, financial) and who wields what poser in the decision. I guarantee that, with a "couple million dollar" product, you will have a long process with a lot of people wanting to say no.
Perhaps then you will have enough information what the selling process is for your product.
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How many potential customers do you have? Have you delivered this kind of product before? Have you sold something like it?
I ask because if the number is >20 and you haven't, it's more important for you to land your first customer than it is to get the sales process right.
No one wants to be the first customer.
My advice is to do the up-front work for free for the first customer in return for them being willing to talk to subsequent customers. Yes, they'll pay for support after the first year, but guarantee that they'll always pay 20-50% less than comparable customers who aren't first.
The pitch is "We're looking for a reference first customer. We want to make sure that our product delivers the promised value before we worry about sales, so we'll do the integration and first year's license for free. After that, you'll always pay less than any subsequent customer."
If you have more than 20 potential customers, "first one free" costs less than 5% of your total revenue, and it will actually end up costing less than 1% because no big customer will go first. So, pitch this deal to the smaller potential customers. One will bite.
While you're doing the work, talk to them about how they they buy comparable products, how those vendors do sales, and pricing. Copy what you hear and use that to get the second customer, probably with a 50-75% discount (with a "if we end up selling to others for less, we'll refund to you" guarantee). The third gets 25-50% discount. The fourth gets a smaller discount, and so on.
Note that large companies think that they're entitled to a 10-20% discount off list price. Factor that into your pricing.
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@Dane Thank you for the answer. The purpose of the question is to understand if there is anything I can do to tackle this journey better. Best practices and tactics to make sure we get the that first project.
We have gotten multiple inquiries and taken multiple meetings. I create a UI and short demo video and a pdf of our offering and follow up. Then we had another meeting.
The project requires understanding their requirement, gap analysis, implementation.
I just wanted to see if there are things I could do to move things further. And have these meetings with a desired outcome in mind.
I want to have a game plan so there's a direction. And what the follow ups should be. How we could offer something irresistible. How can we get these billion dollar establishments to trust a relatively small company to trust us with a major project.
Also the companies I target exist around the world and I'm thinking of getting into partnerships with driven individuals who are sales experts to drive sales for a profit share.
I understand there's no direct format to follow. But guidance and advice is greatly appreciated.
@Vivek appreciate the response. Your account is not showing in results yet. Can you email me on email@example.com so we could connect. Cheers
Hi @andi thank you for the constructive answer. It really helps. Got me thinking about the problem at hand in different angle.
If we give the first buy free, think we will score the first one for sure. The requirement analysis, integration, testing, deployment, service would send the startup bust.
Got to think of a appealing deal to execute this. Need to figure out how, please add a pointer if you got any
Mr. Dane is making valid points. If I were you, I would just consult with a legal counsel on mitigating the liability side of things to the best possible way, while still developing the sale process. If the attorney has experience in such deals, perhaps even better.
This way, you sort of establish your boundaries within which you may negotiate.