“With Startups, they (the prospects) get to meet with the CEO or the head of products, not just the sales people, like Oracle or Cisco. The buyers are just people – they want to have fun at work. They’re trying to get smarter, they are trying to have fun.” – Michael Wolfe (Serial Entrepreneur)
1. The best sales person is the founder
Imagine to be contacted by someone about new business opportunity and he present himself as a sales executive. Would you trust him?
The founder is the perhaps the only person who can talk about his idea high level of energy and enthusiasm.
The early adopters like most ordinary people are very busy with their jobs and are not getting paid to meet with you and your team. Therefore, you have to convince them somehow to spend this extra few minutes on the top of what they are currently busy with. So the next reason why YOU should be the sales person is that delivering an interesting founding story can help you cut through the noise and generate curiosity.
And finally, it is critical for the founding team to test and understand the sales process before hiring a sales person. The sales role is executional which means that you should not expect the sales person to be able to generate the right process and messages. If in the future he fails to deliver it is very likely that the reason is that you didn’t provide him with the right tools.
2. Involve them in the process
Some people like to take challenges and feel part of something new. The early adopters usually are curious and very often ambitious individuals who are constantly exploring new ideas and technologies.
If you give them a chance to be part of the action and contribute to something real, you are taking their experience to completely different level. It’s one thing to read about something than be an important part of it. Also, most of them are busy and have little chance to get this experience in their every day work.
3. Discuss, don’t sell
The early adopters are easy to talk to about their challenges and their company. The difference between them and less risk averse people is that they are actively looking for solutions. So understanding in details what their problem is may open opportunities for further meetings later in the process.
Also, sharing your own business challenges and asking them questions make them feel important and part of the development.
4. Understand their personal and professional goals
Everyone have their own agenda, but the proactive people are constantly looking for ways to grow. Understanding what is the personal and professional goal of the employee you are talking to will allow you relate to them.
Once you know this, than you can adjust your value proposition to reflect for example the promotion this employee is after.
Or another alternative may be that by giving them the chance to discover the next trend this person will have better personal visibility and help his self-image.
If you and your team are well connected in an industry which is interesting for the early adopter, this may be a good enough reason for him to engage in a meeting and perhaps even more.
This has a double effect, but you have to make the first move. Once the opponent experience the benefits of your contacts you can ask him to do the same to you, which may open new doors to your business.
So if your business is in its early days but you have strong professional experience and well established connections don’t forget to mention this during your meeting. Alternatively, you can include your LinkedIn profile in the contact info of your invitation email/letter.
… let them have fun
Don’t forget that the early adopters are people. If they are senior in their organizations, it is very likely that they are fed up with the routine and bored.
Try to be the most fun thing they experience during the day. Whatever happens, be positive and easy-going (it doesn’t mean unprofessional).