If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank or sweated through your own presentation to a VC, you’ve probably noticed one consistency. Just before the investor commits, they invariably request one final bit of information: Tell me about your sales strategy. Assessing how the founders turn prospects into customers willing to write checks, if the investor perceives the answer as less than crisp, they’re out.

There are no guarantees for success in the startup world and especially not in the sports tech market for a myriad of reasons, but be assured if you do not manage the four areas described here the chances of surviving, let alone thriving, collapse quickly.

  1. The Website -or the Big DUH – With the weight of social media, websites are often overlooked. Sites come in all forms. An app-based training offering site might be lighter than, say, a GPS player tracker built for teams, but in the end, they all serve as the store front.

Don’t:

  • Waste too much space on technical discussion unless you’re truly disruptive.
  • Invest too much too early on expensive content.
  • Build it too deep or too big.
  • Use expensive developers or over customize.

DO:

  • Clearly define the problem you’re solving and make it the core of your content.
  • Tell us about your successes.
  • Test Ad Words but don’t commit – yet.
  • Create CTAs, one or two max. If you’re early in the startup process, get emails and try to convert to a phone call – talk with someone.
  1. Social Media – Not What You Think – Social media is not your grandparents’ Facebook nor should you follow the methods of the Kardashians. A rifled strategy is needed that reflects your team’s current reality and aspirations.

DON’T:

  • Spend too much time agonizing over time of day / week for general posts.
  • Be overly concerned about likes, followers, and other pseudo-influencer measurements.  They might feel good but are really not worth much.
  • Post haphazardly.
  • Try to play bigger than you are.

DO:

  • Know the first 250 relationships you’ll want to touch, before posting one item on, say, Twitter.  For example – is your product built for NBA trainers? … here you go -> https://nbata.com/member-directory
  • Drive to connect beyond social media – you can call it conversion.
  • Identify 2-4 social networks to work, integrate postings, and then hammer it.
  • Understand where your product fits into the market and post accordingly. For example, if you are disruptive, then you have to drive educational posts. If your product is similar to other products in the market (I know it’s hard to admit), then drive to the differentiator.
  1. Outbound/Inbound Strategy and Execution – The Core – Your site and social media are the first steps in selling, but the real work is done in the Outbound phase. Inbound comes later.

DON’T:

  • Rely too heavily on first contacts or engagements to set direction.
  • Start with inbound.
  • Skimp on commitment.
  • Assume the product will sell itself.

DO:

  • Build metrics – these can change but pay attention.
  • Involve at least one of the founders who takes the sales lead directly or works with a hired sales person, consultant, or team.
  • Have multiple outbound strategies. This is about the art of selling and is dependent on where in the adoption cycle your product fits.
  • Get serious about sales training (outbound/inbound) specific to your business.
  1. Business Development/Strategic Partnering – We’ve never seen a company hit the acceleration button without developing strategic partnerships defined as building relationships with complementary businesses that serve the same market or base.

DON’T:

  • Jump on the first partner that raises their hand.
  • Wait for product perfection.
  • Commit to one channel without understanding their reach, financial and go-to-market commitment.
  • Assume the partner understands your business’ value proposition.

DO:

  • Focus on cooperation.
  • Develop mutually beneficial revenue models with metrics.
  • Understand how the partner and specifically their sales people are compensated.
  • Execute a metric based trial campaign.

Typically, founders are technology focused with limited experience creating deal flow. Tackling the four areas above will ensure that potential customers will decide to buy or not based on the value of your product or service and not based on poorly-executed marketing and sales efforts.

Cheers, Rich