Saturday, May 26

Got MBA, joined hot start-up…now what?

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Quite often, it’s about what they didn’t teach you at business school….Cold Calling.

Securing funding to launch unknown brands and untested propositions provides a window of opportunity. Having capable managers on the team for Finance, Sales and Delivery is a prerequisite platform.

But, ultimately, isn’t “cold calling” the fundamental competence needed at the outset of these ventures? What is a business without a customer? In essence, “door-openers” and “networkers” are needed to establish rapport, qualify potential and kick-start an often-lengthy educative sales process.

The dilemma for Sales Directors of start-ups with the courage to square up to this issue is often, that:

  1. They hate cold-calling;
  2. They haven’t done it for years. Prior to their most recent “management” role, they were “account managers” responsible for keeping and growing an existing portfolio of clients on behalf of an established brand.

This feeds a tendency by the management teams of start-ups to dodge this bullet by arguing, with a straight face, that:

  1. This is an unknown brand and so the market will have to buy the individuals on the team. Therefore major meetings are team-sales situations where the CEO, Delivery and Sales people each have a role to play;
  2. ‘Cold calling’ is where graduates with sales aptitude cut their teeth. We’ll get these junior assassins with no fear on board and trust them to set up the C-Level meetings that we need;
  3. Our VC is extremely well connected and networked into our markets via their portfolio companies and industry contacts. We can count on them to provide all the introductions that we’ll need in our first year;
  4. All of the management team have MBAs and will therefore secure meetings with the right audience by approaching their business school alumni;
  5. We’re targeting the innovators/early adopters of this market. We don’t need to ‘sell’. What’s needed is the relaying of the feature/function aspects from our Head of Delivery. The penny will drop in the heads of this first wave of ‘market shaper’ clients who will drive our product architecture evolution by refining the applications and benefits of our solutions.

Is the absence of senior hunters, those who relish engaging cold prospects with unknown brands and propositions, a key factor in ventures failing?

Or are they superfluous? You may well have the best salespeople in the world (and the most expensive) on your team, but if the solution that they offer is not compelling (which surely is the case with most entrepreneurial initiatives) then the venture will fail anyway.

And isn’t the bridging of these two divides a largely untapped sphere of business consultancy?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

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About Author

Mark Wiggins currently serves as Senior Vice President, Sales – Research & Analytics for the UK geography at WNS Global Services. Educated at the University of Melbourne, Mark worked with London-based ICT advisory firm Ovum, now part of Informa Plc., in the early part of his career, for a decade as Global Sales Manager, MD, Asia Pacific and CEO, North America. Prior to WNS, Mark held senior roles for innovative research advisory, analytics and consulting firms specializing in Enterprise Application Software, online competitor intelligence, knowledge process outsourcing, e-mail marketing analytics and operational performance improvement. Mark is an avid blogger and a regular contributor to industry journals and publications.

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