Tell Your Customer How You’re Solving A Very Specific Problem For Them, Says Dubai Smartpreneur Competition Finalist Designhubz

The best way to start your pitch – or for that matter, to even begin building your startup – is to make sure you’re solving “a very specific problem”.

That’s the advice of Smartpreneur Competition 4.0 finalist Nadim Habr.

“You’re not just pitching to a customer what you think your solution is, but [how] you are actually solving their problems,” the founder and CEO of Designhubz, a Techstars-backed company that enables brands and retailers to sell their products in 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) on their websites and apps, told founders at a webinar organized by Dubai Startup Hub.

“[So] you really need to put yourself into their shoes and look at your solution from their [perspective]. What is the most important thing for them? Is it [about] how you are going to increase their sales? Increase their conversions? Decrease their cost? Really look at what you are supporting that is important for them and frame your frame your pitch to suit their needs.”

Designhubz’ Robotic Rigs enable instant digitization of physical inventories and its XR Commerce Platform allows selling the products in full 3D and web-based AR to enable immersive try before you buy online shopping experiences.

But even when you have an innovative solution, Habr said, “it’s not that easy to to sell it”.

“Be humble,” he advised. “And negotiate on pricing… especially for your early adopters, give them a discount, but don’t give up your solution for free. I’m against giving it for free. Give them [customers] a trial period, but charge for your solution.”

But setting a price is one of his biggest challenges.

“To be honest, we change our pricing more than 15 times [so far],” he said. “I think we are going to still change it. There is no one correct answer for pricing. Of course, there’s the competitive analysis pricing. But here’s another type of pricing for your solution, especially when you’re offering an innovative solution, that is value based pricing. And that is really looking at your customers and seeing how much value you are going to add and then charge based on that. You’re not going to get it right the first five times.”

It’s also important to make sure the problem you’re solving is “a big enough problem and that a lot of people want a solution to,” Habr said. “This is how you know that you’re really building something that you will be able to scale up and having a meaningful company.”

This can take multiple iterations, Habr added. “We really iterated as many as as more as many as like five times before reaching our stage and before making sure that we are really solving a big enough problem.”

Tap into your referrals

But getting that foot in the door is really not easy at all, Habr warned.

“It might might take up to a year just to be able to do a demo for one of the big companies,” he said. “So really, you need to hustle your way through, and follow up, follow up, follow up.”

While it may seem obvious, Habr advises founders to make sure to tap into their networks for referrals.

“Use referrals as much as you can to get introductions, and then you will have to hustle your way through,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask. You will be amazed by how many people are willing to help you.”

Habr added that Designhubz also took part in events like GITEX and STEP Conference to grow their network. But the more useful pathway, he said was becoming part of accelerator programs like Techstars that helped connect him with potential customers and investors both regionally and globally.

Meanwhile, Habr said participating in the Dubai Smartprenur Competition and becoming part of the Dubai Startup Hub community has helped opened many doors too.

“[They] have helped us a lot from the competition to Global Business Forum, Africa, and really continuously supporting us. We really expanded a lot after these two events. And I’ll never forget… I believe the only reason I have a bank account is because of Dubai Startup Hub.”

Dubai Smartpreneur is an annual competition, organised under Dubai Startup Hub in cooperation with Smart Dubai, aims to assist technology entrepreneurs to be part of Dubai’s strategic initiatives, in addition to enhancing the role of these entrepreneurs in the evolving business ecosystem of the emirate and its position as the global hub for innovation. More than 1,600 participants have gone through the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition over the last four years, reflecting its effectiveness and influence in attracting an increasing number of international startups.

Amid the ongoing pandemic, Dubai Startup Hub launched the Smartpreneur 5.0 Online Pitch Bootcamp, a first-of-its-kind 10-week training program for the 50 finalists who qualified for the second phase of the fifth Dubai Smartpreneur competition.

The specialized online training program runs from April 19 to June 30, 2020, replacing the traditional two-day training to ensure that the promising ventures are strongly supported over virtual channels. The program includes a mix of activities, including working on pitches by using Dubai Chamber’s guide, participating in a series of online training workshops and webinars with winners and previous participants of the competition.

Entrepreneurs will benefit from more than 100 individual and group online training workshops throughout the two-and-a-half-month-long program. The training program also includes four weeks of one-to-one work with startup business coaches to improve the business and financial models of the startups and run a simulation of the contest with the finalists as judges.

The top three winners of the competition receive a combined total of AED150,000 in cash prizes.

Winner Of 3rd Emirati Tech Boot Camp Awarded Free Company Setup And Space at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus

Mnawrah ‘, a marketplace for instant, personalized and cultural specific e-cards founded by Emirati artist Aysha Al Hemrani, was awarded free company setup and a desk space at the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority’s wholly owned Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec) as part of a pitch competition at the 3rd Emirati Tech Boot Camp earlier this month.

The event, which included several workshops for startups, was organized in cooperation with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Emirates Foundation.

Abdulla Bukelly, who pitched ‘Water Wa‘, a marketing platform for drinking water, won second place, while Nasser AlHosani wont third place for Takweya, which allows users to find and start a tutoring session instantly though messaging apps.

Open to Emiratis across various segments – students, professionals, entrepreneurs, as well as members of the public with an interest in technology – the four-day boot camp comprised various sessions hosted by leading industry experts, certified trainers and technology entrepreneurs.

It addressed the aspects of starting a tech venture, while the workshops offered insights on product development, customer development and marketing, leading and building a team, as well as pitching a business proposal to investors and ways to secure funding.

Speaking at the event, Hans Christensen, Vice President at Dtec, said: “The implementation and reinforcement of a knowledge culture is the most essential and sustainable component for building a knowledge-based economy. At DSOA, we tap into every potential that helps spread the culture of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship among young Emirati talents.”

He added that the workshops and conversations that events such as the Tech Boot Camp host inspire participants to upskill their workplace competencies and challenge themselves to think differently. The platform also provides valuable insights into the fundamentals of developing a business proposition.

“We are confident the knowledge gained will enable our participants to make a major contribution to the growth of the technology sector in the MENA region through enhancing their individual aptitude and levels of competitiveness,” Christensen added.

Natalia Sycheva, Manager of Entrepreneurship at Dubai Chamber, added that Dubai Chamber’s support for the boot camp is in line with its comprehensive entrepreneurship strategy to supports startups and SMEs by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive and grow.

She said: “This unique program showcased several innovative and high-potential business ideas that have emerged from within Dubai’s entrepreneurial eco-system. We congratulate the winning team and look forward to seeing all presented ideas come to fruition.”

Mnawrah founder Al Hemrani also previously  took part in the Emirati Pitch Training workshop held by Dubai Startup Hub at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce headquarters in July, where budding entrepreneurs from across the UAE learnt how to best present their startup story and business idea to potential investors, partners and clients in future.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Al Hossani, Director of Programs at Emirates Foundations, noted the importance of Enterprise development in the UAE as part of the Leadership’s vision to empower Emirati Youth to take leading roles within the labour market.

He said: “The Foundation’s programs are very much in line with the nation’s vision and focus on empowering youth to understand and access the labour market through the creation of viable and scalable enterprises.”

He further emphasized the importance of working with both the public and private sectors to create opportunities for youth and to support them establish these enterprises.

“DSOA Emirati Tech Boot Camp is a great example of how we can mobilize collective effort to support better empower youth” Al Hossani Concluded.

A wholly owned entity of the government of Dubai, DSO operates as a free zone technology park for large enterprises, as well as medium and small companies looking to set up their offices in Dubai. Dtec is the largest hub for tech startups and entrepreneurs in the Middle East.

Khalifa Fund Calls For Entries For Second Edition Of Pitch@Palace Competition

The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development is inviting creative entrepreneurs to participate in the second edition of its Pitch@PalaceUAE competition and the first Gulf edition of the competition titled Pitch@PalaceGCC.

The competitions serve as a global platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to showcase their projects to a group of businessmen and executive heads of prestigious companies, to get the help and support to amplify their businesses.

The deadline for entries is August 15, 2018.

Both editions of Pitch@Palace are strategic partners of the Pitch@Palace Global competition, which was launched in 2014 by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York in the United Kingdom.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Pitch@Palace plays a vital role in supporting innovative enterprises and ideas at local and regional levels.

The initiative aims to forge a new generation of entrepreneurs from the UAE and the rest of the GCC, while also fostering a culture of innovation and supporting the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across countries in the region.

Commenting on the competition, His Excellency Abdulla Al Darmaki, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said in a press statement: “We look forward with confidence to the upcoming Pitch@Palace, which highlights Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development’s commitment to instill a culture of entrepreneurship among Emiratis and Gulf residents while also promoting a culture of innovation and sustainable growth for SMEs that will further drive social and economic development.”

The first UAE edition of the competition featured several new projects, and identified two Emirati winners who came up with unique projects, at the local and global levels: Faraj Al Faraj, creator of the ‘Brailleye’ device, and Mansour Al Kaabi, creator of the ‘Dwak’ application.

Brailleye is designed to help visually impaired individuals read in Braille or obtain audio versions of a scanned text, making users feel independent and giving them greater access to the world of books and literature.

The ‘Dwak App’ is a smartphone application that makes the task of sticking to medications easier and prevents potential health risks caused by incorrect dosage. The app sends automatic reminders to users every time they need to take tablets or follow course of medicine, while keeping track of the user’s prescriptions to remind him when it is time for a refill.

The Khalifa Fund focuses on supporting innovative projects and shifting the focus from economic entrepreneurship to innovative entrepreneurship in the UAE. The Fund works in in line with the UAE’s national agenda to become one of the leading countries in the world by 2021.

For registration and more information, visit: http://pitchatpalaceuae.com

Seven Things Salespeople Get Wrong (And How To Fix Them)

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East.

What’s the difference between a great salesperson and a mediocre one? A 2016 report looked into the behavioral traits that separate “world class” salespeople from everyone else. Responses were gathered around the world, talking to everyone from account managers to executives. What did they find? Out of the 1,206 respondents only 7.7% met the criteria for “world-class sales performance.”

So what was everyone else doing wrong? And what can we all do to make sure our teams are in that group right at the top? Here’s are seven things to look out for:

1. Developing a dynamic approach. Salespeople and managers need to work together to move from random, ad hoc preparation to a more “dynamic” approach, making a solid and repeatable sales process part of the daily work flow and continually assessing how well they’re performing against it. In the book Marketing Management edited by Raju and Xardel, they define this approach as “the process followed by sales managers when they define and display all the appropriate means at their disposal for influencing, and also, within limits, for controlling all the factors (customers, salespeople, and middle sales management) of the selling process and to make them contribute to the firm’s objectives in the most efficient way possible.”

In short, it’s pulling it all together in one place– and using that as your base to make decisions and move forward in a coherent way.

2. Staying motivated– don’t be derailed by doubts. Losing motivation can be very dangerous– you may not be able to close a sale every day, but you can keep a record of your progress, whether that’s lead generation or follow-up calls. It’s not just about getting motivated, it’s about staying motivated too, even when you feel you’re up against it.

Many salespeople feel they’re facing an uphill struggle if they’re trying to sell to a customer who already has an existing relationship with a competitor. One report by Altify found that 70% of salespeople surveyed felt that generally a buyer will go with the “devil they know.” Yet that same study found that, in fact, 41% of buyers actually have no such preference and are keen to look to the broader market. So it pays to act early– in fact, around 67% of buyers engage suppliers early and 35% of buyers even bring suppliers in before they’ve fully defined the project.

Sales is about maintaining energy and persistence, so it’s up to you to stop doubts from creeping in– you can’t afford to manufacture your own psychological disadvantage.

3. Price sensitivity– accept it and learn how it works. Price sensitivity will always be there– the key is to understand what’s driving it rather than trying to eliminate it. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between genuine price sensitivity issues (e.g. a new competitor making margins tighter) and procurement tactics designed to beat you down on price.

But the other key is listening and finding common ground. While you should lead with questions to garner an indication of where a price point should land, view the exchange not so much as a battle to be won but as a solution to be reached. The Altify report found “when both parties work more closely in a trusted relationship earlier in the engagement, the decision intelligence is improved, win rates improve and the deliverable to the buyer improves.”

In other words, finding a price that makes sense for both parties –and clearly demonstrating that’s what you’re out to achieve– is conducive to a strong, long-term relationship.

4. Be the real deal. Openness on price and working together lead us to one of the oldest stereotypes about salespeople– a tendency to seem less than sincere. But it’s true that if you’re unpleasant, faking the friendliness or coming on too strong, you’re likely to come unstuck.

There are two key points here and the first takes us back to preparation. Make sure you know your pitch inside out– know your company and crucially, know theirs. You’ll have a much easier time not coming across as a phony if you’ve taken the time to make sure you’re the real deal.

Then there’s plain old practice. Take the time to understand how you come across to others and work to improve it. Even practice in the mirror. It’s very hard to fake a smile, but what you can do is learn to project both “strength” and “warmth.” In Compelling People, John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut argue that these are the two qualities displayed by successful people, whether they’re in sales, entertainment or politics. They define strength as “a person’s capacity to make things happen,” while warmth is the sense “that a person shares our feelings, interests and view of the world.” As an ambitious salesperson, you probably recognize strength, but it’s a really good idea to pay attention to warmth as well.

5. Remember to listen. Plato’s apocryphal observation that “wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something” highlights the importance of listening. As a salesperson, just like anyone else, you have two ears and one mouth and should probably use them in those measures.

The Altify report found that while 56% of sellers think they “add value most of the time,” more than a third of buyers feel that sellers “rarely” or “never” add value. Rather than taking this as a blow to the vanity of the profession, it should be a reminder that you’re there to help the customer buy, not to “sell at them.”

Customers want to be listened to. They have problems to overcome, but unless you can understand their journey, you’ll have parted company long before you reach the destination. Use your experience with other clients and learn to see your customers’ perspective.

6. Work the room. Presenting is part and parcel of being a salesperson and it’s something that, like it or not, you need to be able to do. Human beings are social, pack animals and in a new environment we would much rather be close to everyone else than standing at the front drawing attention to ourselves. Even the most extroverted personality can fall victim to nerves, which is bad news both for you and for the room. Neffinger and Kohut point out that “whatever emotions you project into that room strongly influence how everyone in your audience feels.”

There are any number of self-help books that will claim to rid you of the anxieties that come with presenting, but in the end it comes down to planning and practice. Prepare your pitch, know your figures and plan for questions– for there will always be those who will delight in trying to catch you out. Remember to make it about them and not about you– you’re offering them a solution to buy, not a repertoire to applaud.

7. Hammer the phones. In his book Sales Success, Robert Hastings observes that “even highly experienced sales professionals experience some episodes of call reluctance in their careers.” He goes on to claim that call reluctance is “dormant in 97% of all sales people.”

For some people, avoiding the phone is down to a real psychological discomfort. If that’s the case and you can’t overcome it, you may be in the wrong field. Real salespeople make sales calls. Always. Whether it’s responding to new leads or revisiting old leads that might now be ready to close, good salespeople never sit still.

A study attributed to the Dartnell Corporation found that 48% of salespeople gave up on a prospect after the first call. By the fourth call, that figure was 90%. The problem is that it’s the very quality of persistence that can increase a client’s confidence in a salesperson. There’s an urban legend about the soft drink 7UP that sees its inventor trying time and again to market the drink as 1UP, 2UP, 3UP and so on. Sadly with the failure of “6UP,” he loses the will to carry on, only for a competitor to jump in and hit the big time with the very next logical step.

Don’t be the person who quits just before the win.

Successful salespeople know that a tiny percentage of customers will buy on that first call. What the smart people are looking to do is build opportunities, develop relationships and secure a competitive edge. That way, when the gap appears, with the right preparation and groundwork, they’re ready to fill it.

By Karl Hougaard

Dubai-Headquartered E-Commerce Platform Eyewa Raises US$1.1 Million From UAE And KSA Investors

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East.

UAE-based e-commerce startup eyewa has raised US$1.1 million in a seed round led by Equitrust, the investment arm of Choueiri Group, and with the participation of other UAE and KSA-based investors. Launched in 2017, the startup was the brainchild of Anass Boumediene and Mehdi Oudghiri, who were both formerly co-Managing Directors of foodpanda Middle East, up until it was acquired by Delivery Hero. The duo felt that the online market for curated eyewear was inexistent, with the experience in optical stores viewed more as a medical transaction, and less as part of an individual’s visual identity. Oudghiri comments on the opportunity in the eyewear e-commerce space: “It is a proven business model with many success stories in different regions, yet until now, we didn’t have a proper solution in the GCC. Consumers are hungry for better value propositions beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar experience.”

Seeing as how the region’s e-commerce market can be considered as saturated, when asked how they plan to stand out, Boumediene explains their decision to be a niche player focusing solely on eyewear enables (and pushes) them to be expert specialist in their field and provide customers with the ideal experience. Their competitive advantage? According to the duo, besides their core team, they assert it’s also their wider product offerings compared to physical optical stores, plus the convenience of online shopping, competitive prices and free shipping. Since their launch, the startup has received steady early traction and has expanded to a team of 10. And with the newly-gained capital, the startup plans to scale their marketing and expand their operations across GCC, and beyond its UAE home market. “We plan to make eyewa the reference in people’s mind when it comes to buying contact lenses, sunglasses and eyeglasses online.”

‘TREP TALK

Anass Boumediene and Mehdi Oudghiri, co-founders, eyewa

As an eyewear-centric e-commerce platform, what approach did you take to pitch to investors?

“On one hand, selling eyewear online is not a new concept. There are several businesses that have been very successful in this space across the world, from Warby Parker in the US to Lenskart in India or MisterSpex in Germany. This is a proven business model, and the Middle East is a big enough market for a product focused e-commerce. For investors, this means that the online eyewear opportunity is here. On the other hand, we have a great team. We have worked together for years and have a successful track record in entrepreneurship in the region, and in previous work experiences with global companies (both were strategy consultants at Bain and Company Middle East). For investors, this means that execution risk is low. When we met with investors, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we ended being over-subscribed. The conversations were much more focused on the product/market fit and how we can adapt better our positioning and offering, including tech features, to offer a more tailored value proposition to the Middle East customers. We found that speaking to investors, even to those that didn’t invest, was always fruitful, as their feedback allowed us to challenge our assumptions and market understanding, which ultimately helped us fine tune our approach and business plan.”

What are your top three tips to e-commerce startups seeking funding?

1. Share your idea with as many people as you can, especially people from different background than yours and people form the industry you are targeting if you are not from that industry. This will help you refine your business model and get you ready for your pitch.

2. Invest time in building your pitch. We spent weeks building our deck, interviewing people, doing market research, reshuffling the presentation and then doing the pitch to any friend that was willing to hear it to get additional feedback. Your story has to be concise yet convincing.

3. Start early. Raising funds takes time and it’s never too early to start. Investors are busy and the legal paperwork is lengthy.

By Pamella de Leon

Five Common Sales Mistakes To Avoid As A Startup

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East.

For the vast majority of new businesses, sales is at the top of their minds, day in and day out. While it is hard to rank tasks according to importance (it literally seems as though everything matters at a startup, doesn’t it?), we have to look at early sales success as key not just to growth, but to survival as well. And so unless you’ve got the luxury of investor money that allows you to hire a sales team, it’s an activity that will be taking a lot of your time as the startup founder.

Here are a couple of interesting facts for you– the second of which really gets me thinking:

  1. Full-time sales positions currently account for over a tenth of all jobs in the United States.
  2. Of that mammoth sales force, 20% deliver over 80% of the revenue.

Why is that second figure of particular importance to us startup founders? Because, and to paraphrase business guru Peter Drucker, it reminds us that it is not simply a matter of “doing the right thing,” but “doing the thing right.” Get good at sales and the payout is a financial one. Stay mediocre, and the outcome could be far worse than simply remaining mediocre– on the startup front, it could result in complete failure.

Personally, I feel that the majority of people who fail to sell do so not because they can’t or because they don’t try hard enough, but because many of them make one or more of the all-too-common sales mistakes I’m about to outline for you– and simply get stuck in these bad habits. Now, of course, we all make mistakes from time to time, but again we have to stress that errors in the foundation of your sales process are hard for the startup to survive with for too long.

1. Neglecting to prospect

Let’s start with the basics: one of the main reasons why businesses fail to sell is because they neglect the need to get out there and find enough prospects in the first place. Prospecting for sales is the first and arguably most vital stage in the sales process, and yet still many entrepreneurs put it off– either because they don’t like “going in cold” or because they feel they have enough customers and therefore don’t need to find anymore.

But it’s nothing short of fear and apprehension that is holding you back, and it’s the single-biggest mistake you can make. Before we get to the ABC (Always Be Closing) stage that Alec Baldwin made so famous in the absolute classic sales film Glengarry Glen Ross, remember that something comes before it: ABP. Always Be Prospecting.

If you fail to do this, get ready for frustrations and a massive level of stress. Procrastination is one of the biggest causes of stress, and procrastinating on the sales prospecting front will weigh hard on you. Of course it’s important to look after the customers you already have, but the fact is not all customers are going to be around forever. According to Business Brief, most businesses lose 14% of their customers every year.  This means that steady prospecting must be a core part of your business plan.

2. Sticking too tightly to the pitch

Of course a high-impact, engaging presentation has its part to play when it comes to sealing the deal, but it needs to be remembered that it is not the be all and end all. I have seen far too many entrepreneurs and salespeople alike slave over presentations for days on end, only to get in front of a potential buyer and deliver the pitch in minute detail, paying little or no attention to the reaction of the client– and therefore failing to act on vital buying signals.

Yes, if you give a presentation (and you don’t always have to, mind you!) it needs to be slick, but don’t let it dictate the flow if things end up going in another direction. Ask yourself why you are there. It is about helping you and the prospect identify if there is a need for what you offer, then presenting your case in the right way –with the right words and the right timing– to make yourself and your products or services look favorable. Sticking to the script too tightly can end up having quite the opposite effect.

Get your presentation tight and then deliver it naturally, but be ready to change tact if needed, rather than relying too heavily on your slide show and missing out on any potential jumping off points for conversation.

3. Not being a good listener

Asking the right questions is of course vital to any sales conversation, but then make sure you are listening to the answers. Whether it is a sales discussion, a discussion with your partner, or a casual conversation with someone you met at a business or personal function, everyone loves a good listener. Just think how good you feel when you are in the company of a good listener. They make you feel comfortable, and you just want more of them. For the salesperson, I can’t think of a more endearing and indeed necessary trait.

A good listener looks you in the eyes, gives no indication whatsoever that they are about to interrupt, says “yes” and nods at just the right times without overdoing it (so as not to distract or disrupt the speaker), and is, ultimately, truly listening. He or she takes in the words, and when that is being done honestly, the speaker senses it.

In any sales conversation it is the prospect that should be doing the vast majority of the talking– as much as 70% in my opinion. So rather than diving head first into a sales pitch only to come up for air at the end to ask about next steps, let the prospect lead. Start with questions and get the person talking, and you will see that after five or ten minutes you are in a rather comfortable place. Then you can decide together whether your prepared presentation is needed, or if you just continue the conversation (I prefer the latter 100% of the time).

Really, this all boils down to recognizing that sales is first and foremost about solving a customer’s problem. If you understand exactly what a prospect is saying you’ll be better placed to offer them a solution and therefore secure a sale (if there is a fit). So listening is nothing short of an essential survival skill for the salesperson. It gets you to the answer you need faster than any of your own smooth talking will.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com.

4. Being coy about price

There are many salespeople out there who will tell you that one of the tricks of selling is to build value first and then talk about price. Personally, while I can see the logic, I’m not so sure on this approach. Coming at a sale in this fashion tends to result in a potential buyer that can never really get too carried away with their interest in your offering because at the back of their mind they’re wondering whether it is even affordable or not.

The mistake here is that too many salespeople are afraid to initiate conversations regarding price, when really it is nothing to shy away from. Having discussions around price early on signals your intent from the outset, as well as giving the potential buyer complete transparency. So rather than hooking them in and convincing them to buy, let them know exactly what their commitment will be early and then use the rest of your time to demonstrate just why your offering is worth it.

Of course, you may not know the exact price upfront. You may have to get the requirements. But it is pretty much always possible to give a range, so if that is the only way, then do it. And yes, that range can be broad if necessary. You don’t want to lock yourself into something unrealistic and have to backtrack later.

5. Not knowing how to close

This one is in large part about timing and communication. Try to close too soon and you could be waving goodbye to a fantastic opportunity. Wait too long and someone else will most likely snatch that opportunity right out of your hands.

The case for not jumping straight to the sale is clear. Sales is, after all, very much about building relationships– and as the saying goes, only fools rush in. Take the time to understand your prospects challenges, educate yourself on their business, and demonstrate your value to them. If they are in fact a genuine prospect, then by doing these things you are giving yourself the best possible chance of securing that sale.

However, that’s not to say sales success is done by staying casual about the contact or giving that prospect his or her distance. Far from it. When to make contact, how to make contact (what to say), and how often to make contact is very much a gut feeling-led exercise, and you have to develop killer instincts in this respect.

The key is to look at the close as part of an ongoing consultative relationship rather than something that is going to be a quick one-off transaction (that is, getting a yes or no at some point based on very little discussion almost never happens in B2B). This means that events dictate the timeline and not vice versa. The sale can come at anytime throughout this process, and so that finesse you develop based on your finely tuned instincts is what dictates the actions you will take to give yourself the best chance of securing that sale.

By Karl Hougaard