If you’ve been a startup founder or you’ve been part of a startup from it’s inception, you’re well aware of the fact that the product or service that gets you to Product Market Fit, delights customers and achieves the hockey stick growth effect that your VC’s invested in is most likely not the initial product you envisioned on day one.
Many have written about how to iterate to get there and there are several methodologies out there to follow which will most likely get you to that PMF (Product Market Fit) point faster. The lean startup process “Build, Measure, Learn” is probably the most famous one out there and I highly recommend that you follow it if you’re in the pursuit to disrupt something with a software based product.
When we started Swarmsales, our thesis was that we could build a marketplace that would connect Vendor Companies and Proven Enterprise Sales Pros to break into accounts and close deals faster. We implemented a milestone based compensation system for companies to only pay sales professionals based on completing milestones (Introduction, Demo, Pilot, Win) successfully and that was a great value proposition for Companies (Demand Side of our marketplace). I won’t get into all the details about what we had to iterate on but here are some of the most important ones:
- Supply is King: As Andrew Chen says it well in his recent post. All of these Uber for X companies failed because they couldn’t keep their supply side engaged (in our case the Enterprise Sales Pros are our supply side) because they just couldn’t pay the bills with what they made on Swarmsales.
- Sales Pros needed a lot more attention, training and support than we initially envisioned and those that ended up becoming experts with products/services that they found on Swarmsales would eventually be offered a full-time position by the companies that engaged with them.
- Because we were suggesting that Swarmsales sales professionals could do everything in the sales process from Identification of an opportunity through Validation, Qualification and Closing the deal, this posed a huge conflict of interest with the vendor company’s internal sales force (inside sales primarily) or with their channel sellers who are the real independent sales forces for our vendor companies.
- We had a lot of early stage companies join Swarmsales initially and they all had products that were still not “Sales Ready” and they were themselves trying to co-build their solutions with the enterprise to become relevant. Many of our independent sales people complained that they found out a few weeks or months into the sales process that the vendor company’s solution wasn’t really ready for prime time and they had invested a lot of time to ultimately loose the deal to a more mature player.
These 4 findings led us to come up with a better way for Swarmsales to be of value to both vendor companies and sales pros, and here is what we are now suggesting as the best course of action:
- Sales Pros need to pay their bills just like everyone else and if you want to tap into their rolodex, you should pay for the time it takes them to get you those discovery calls/intros to decision makers. We’re suggesting that companies can pay a sales pro $500-$1000/mo and ask them for 5-15 hours of their time to draft emails, send email and text messages to get you those great intro calls your company needs.
- This is a platform and not a marketplace. You’ll have to assign someone to run the “B2B Targeted Introductions” effort in the same way you assign someone to run your “marketing automation” efforts with hubspot. If you just turn Swarmsales on and wait for sales pros to engage with you and get deals done for you, it just won’t happen. Ideally you’ll want to arm our Sales Pros with the basic info for them to have an intelligent 15 min conversation about the business problems or use cases your company can solve for and use that to get you in front of their rolodex at your target accounts.
- Just use the Swarmsales Sales Pro for a “Highly Qualified Introduction” and have them hand over the opportunity to your internal sales specialists or use these opportunities to build pipeline for your business partners such as Resellers or ISV’s and have them do all the rest. Our Swarmsales Sales Pros should collect a nice payment for that qualified intro ($350 to $600 seems right) plus an influencer bonus when your sales team or channel seller wins a deal. We expect this bonus to vary anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 per closed deal.
- Our goal for 2018 and beyond is to bring in more companies like DropBox, SungardAS and Globant who are already customers and all joined Swarmsales for the “B2B Targeted Introductions”
If your company has a Sales Ready Product and you’re looking to break into new accounts while lowering your cost of sales, feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or start here.
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