Sean Higgins (@higg1921) is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars, a worldwide startup accelerator, startup funding, and mentorship network. Previously, Sean led the video education and training platform, iLos, starting the venture from scratch and growing its sales to more than 1.5 million dollars. Today he specializes in helping new companies use outbound tactics to both validate product-market fit and to gain early traction. He is also a regular contributor for Hubspot.
Sean was bitten by the sales bug early, founding a B2B video company right out of college. Although his degree was in accounting, Sean knew he had what it would take to start growing the business by forming impactful relationships.
He believes carving a dedicated niche in the marketplace is crucial to success: businesses must know their strategic advantages in relation to competitors. He firmly preaches there are no “cheat codes” when it comes to sales. It’s about putting in the time, focus, and dedication towards finding and delivering solutions.
- Manufacture Urgency: Pushing a prospect across the finish line is one of the biggest questions I get day to day. That said, without fully understanding what a company has to gain or lose with any decision will leave you standing alone at the finish line. Let me be very clear, I am not a fan of end of the month or end of the quarter discounts; however, Sean’s notion of “exploding offers” really intrigued me. If you know you’re in a competitive situation and you can get a prospect to show you their current bill or current contract, that would be worth making a deal.
- Don’t Position Yourself as the Best: Unless an analyst or third-party researcher has literally labeled your offering as “the best,” don’t talk like you are. Doing so will make you look foolish to any sophisticated buyer. Understand, I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe in your product. If you dig in and understand the competitive landscape – what capabilities each company has as well as the pros and cons of the different offerings – you’ll be able to have a better conversation with prospects. You’ll be able to break down their specific needs and align those to things you do well. Maybe more than anything, don’t disparage your competition. It may work in the short run, but long term, you’ll be the one looking like a fool.
- Use Pilots to Close Deals: At this point, it seems every buyer has had an experience of being duped by a salesperson or buying something that had a less than successful rollout. If you have a cautious prospect, but you know your product will help them, offer a pilot. Making it a paid pilot ensures your contact is one that can go obtain budget. Before fully rolling it out, set expectations on both ends. You want to understand, and even suggest, how the prospect will use the product during the pilot period. Lastly, you want to set the acceptance criteria up front to deem what success means.
- Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday