‘Be industrious and be relentless’
And, most importantly, don’t ask potential clients to pay for your cab to the meeting. These were some of the many tips and stories shared by the panelists at our second event for the Concrete Proptech Residency @Fora with JLLSpark: B2B sales for proptech from the experts. The residency is well underway and the event is testament to the fruitful and engaging conversations it’s facilitating.
Attendees heard from expert panelists James Morris-Manuel, Rachel Norris, Arnaud Bouzinac, and Sebastian Abigail.
What are the five key takeaways from our discussion?
1.’Be industrious and be relentless’
James kicked off the conversation stressing the need to be creative in how you identify opportunities, making sure they’re worth your time, and making full use of all the tools at your disposal to turn them into a win. When faced with a no, perseverance is key: if you’re convinced that you have something valuable to sell, and that you’re selling it to the right client, it’s likely that the resistance you’re met with is “because you’re talking to the wrong person”, according to Sebastian. So, again, be creative and persevere: who else would be best to approach? If the person is right and there is value in your proposition, then you must be selling wrong: are you able to present your product (demos) compellingly and clearly?
2. Do your research
Have a deep dig into what your potential client does and who their clients are, have a clear idea of what their pain-points may be without being presumptuous. To Arnaud from MIPIM “there is nothing worse than a pitch from someone who is unprepared”. But also beware of the BANT, as coined by James: Budget, Authority, Need and Timing are four things you need to know about your audience. Do they have the money and the power to make this happen? Are they in need of your solution, and if so, today or in a year?
3. Value first
No word was repeated more fervently throughout the evening than value. Startups should not be selling to CEOs on the promise of saved pounds, or increased sales, but on the indispensable value add that their product can bring. According to James what CEOs care about is negative ROI, ie “they’re thinking: what’s the impact of us not buying this software, not changing in this way?”.
As stressed by Rachel, everything for Lockton is about value add:”if you, as a founder, are not able to demonstrate simply, humbly and compellingly why this product is a must-have, then you are putting yourself in a tricky position”. A good way to demonstrate this is by having clients, especially competitors, who can provide good feedback about your product.
4. Handling the ‘slow no of death’
The sales process is not transparent, and often neither are the people to whom you pitch. So you may come across what James referred to as ‘the slow no of death’: yes that is really a no, but covertly and annoyingly so. The ‘yes, but not right now’, or ‘yes, but only if I am not first’ are some of the more difficult answers to handle.
The reason why these are common answers was nicely put by Sebastian from VTS: the real estate industry “doesn’t jump at competitive advantage“, what their peer set is doing bears great weight, somewhat defeating the concept of competitive advantage altogether. A good way to handle these answers is to keep an eye on the clients who are dragging you along, are seniors from the company (un)subscribing from your blog? Use marketing tools, like Marketo, to know if the people who say they’re interested really are.
5. Listen and learn
The value of asking questions and getting feedback echoed throughout the conversation. The audience asked how to deal with the fact that often you are selling an imperfect product, and the truth is that your product should always be unfinished, only then will it be evolving and improving. The best way to deal with this when selling is to be honest, Rachel was keen to stress that “being humble and asking questions is a plus – showing that you are improving is an asset”.
Engaging with your audience to understand what they need is the most effective way to know that there is good client and market fit for your solution. Furthermore, it’s very good practice to ask your partner how they think a pitch went and how it could be improved for next time, just don’t do this in the building lift.
The journey through sales is a long and arduous one but we hope these tips can make it a little smoother.
The current cohort includes construction tech companies Aphex and PlanRadar, co-living platform Vivahouse, building connectivity solution Node, big data startup Gyana and access control system Doordeck.
Join the next Concrete Proptech Residency from July to December 2019
- Taylor Westcoatt is founder of Concrete VC.
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