Are you wondering why customers and funders aren’t clearing out their calendars to meet with you to discuss your venture, startup, or your company’s products/services/platforms?
Perhaps you are boring them to pieces. Perhaps you are fading into the wallpaper. Perhaps you are being perceived as a commodity.
Even if you are a university researcher, student entrepreneur, technical sales person, consultant, or engineer. I’m sure I left somebody out of this list. If so, consider yourself included: you know who you are.
It’s not only that they don’t have time for you. They don’t have time. Period. For anyone, including themselves.
We know all about lack of investor and customer time in the sales world. How many customer touchpoints are needed to secure a meeting? Now move into the world of ventures and start-ups. This topic is a common denominator that comes up constantly when I coach teams developing new ventures. Founders of start-ups simply cannot understand why they have less than a 100% success rate immediately scheduling “customer discovery” appointments with potential investors for their great idea or concept. (Note: For those of you in the sales community, this term comes from the entrepreneurial world and is applied to business development discussions which attempt to align customer feedback with product development and design – simultaneously. How many of you are frustrated selling products to marketplaces that don’t need or want them? Perhaps your company needed to have lots of customer discovery conversations first before they pushed yet another product into a saturated or uninterested marketplace. But I digress.)
There are simple truths about requesting people’s time.
The simple truth is that many of the individuals you target are beyond insanely busy. For every hour of their day, there are at least many people – just like you – vying for that time slot. All feel their products or ventures are important. Many asking for their time are eminent researchers or business leaders and investors or sales rock stars, like you.
Another simple truth is that it’s not worth your time as an entrepreneur or salesperson to take this rejection personally. If people don’t have time to speak with you, they aren’t necessarily rejecting you as a person of worth. Even if you feel they should already know who you are and how eminently you are regarded in your own professional circles.
Yet another simple truth is that one of these days, you will find yourself on these folk’s calendars. It is up to you to be able to articulate the relevance and value of your venture or sales offering in words that are readily understood by all those seated around the business table. If your conversation sounds like the abstract to a scientific publication or you show up and throw up all sorts of product features and benefits, you have just lost your opportunity to secure another conversation. Because securing another conversation should have been the objective of your appointment. It was never a selling conversation.
You didn’t think they were going to whip out their check book and write you a check right then and there, did you?
It’s not all about you or your venture or your product. It’s all about the outcome that your venture or product offers to your investors or your customers. From their perspective, not yours. Engaging them at your “hello” appointment, with a relevant and valuable business discussion rather than a sales pitch, makes them inclined to continue that discussion in subsequent conversations.
Eventually, they may just decide to show you their money. If you earned their respect – and time –based on your understanding of business development dynamics first and foremost.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page.