Bill, Executive Director of eLearning Brothers, discussed the following topics during his presentation:
- Defining you and your customers
- Leveraging networks and relationship marketing
- Building the right sales team
- Taking risks
- Account penetration vs. chasing customers
- Value-added partnerships
- Saving the day and being the trusted partner when your client needs help
- Stage 2 and Stage 3 sales success
Below is a recap of his presentation. You can find his slides here.
- Know your story. Selling isn’t about your software or product.
- The goal is to tell a story that is endearing and shows competence. People want to know who you are.
- His company replaced vendors that companies simply didn’t enjoy working with.
- Make yourself personable.
- Option 6 was literally his sixth option.
ROUND 1 – OPTION 6
- You will always be the best sales person as opposed to hiring someone – get used to it.
- Be scrappy and leverage your network. It’s helped him land major clients.
- Build industry experience. Once you have a few logos for your resume, pick an industry you can exploit.
- Go big! Don’t settle. They went big at Microsoft. People will take a chance on people they like.
- Go bigger! They went big at Bank of America.
ROUND 2 – eLEARNING BROTHERS
- Their approach has always been brand recognition. Do something bold, so you’ll stand out.
- Try to have an infectious personality.
- Have an online presence. Social media is the cheapest marketing method available.
- For conferences, go big or don’t go.
- They’ve given away concert tickets.
- Do things people remember.
- Their team wears exclusive shirts that aren’t given away to others.
- Their company brings every employee to the show.
- Give away your product for free. It’s a very strategic thing to do!
ROUND 2.1 – QUANTUM
- Many companies were interested in their product, but there weren’t any buyers.
- They gave presentations at places like Apple and Oracle.
- Their Salesforce list was very impressive, but they had no sales.
- They had the wrong sales people.
- They automated things way too early and had too much formality.
- It was what he calls “the best documented failure in history.”
- They didn’t have the correct pricing strategy.
- He should have given their software away for free or at a low cost. It would have allowed him to get large clients on his resume for the future.
- Option 6 was all about value and value propositions.
- eLearning Brothers was all about affordability and volume.
- You must figure out what your clients want!
ISSUES FACING STARTUPS
- The smartest thing for him was getting a board of advisors, which helped him avoid mistakes.
STAGE 1 – START UP
- You must define who you are and who your customers are going to be.
- Leverage networks and relationship marketing.
- You’re the best sales person!
- Save the day for your clients or customers. Be the trusted partner when your client needs help.
- Win with service and reputation.
STAGE 2 – A REAL COMPANY
- They had to go from being a pack of freelancers to a real company.
- You have to build the right sales team (it still might be you).
- Take big risks.
- Go to conferences if they make sense for you and your company.
STAGE 3 – STABILITY
- Pay attention to account penetration vs. customer chasing.
- Consider value-added partnerships, especially when looking to expand outside of your expertise.
- Find companies that compliment what you do.
STAGE 4 – EXPANSION
- There is strength in numbers.
- Consider alliances.
- Acquisitions are possible regardless of a company’s size.
Bill’s parting advice was to never give up your equity!
Can you talk more about account penetration and the “land and expand” method?
- Fill the gap between sales and production.
- They’ve restructured their company into studios that own specific accounts.
Talk about hiring the first members of your sales team.
- With Option 6, he had to train someone to do business development.
- With eLearning Brothers, it came down to whether they really knew the domain.
- With Quantum, he hired someone who knew how to sell services, not software.
Explain the unique terminology you’ve been using.
- The terms used are very intentional and things that people can identify with in their roles.
- The alliance they’ve created required a lot of trust.
- Plan and be strategic when merging.
Employee buy-in to your culture seems very important to your success. What did you do early on to foster that?
- Employees have helped to create it and reinforce it.
- The kinds of people you hire are important. Can they do the job? Can they get things done on time? And, can they work with other people?
How do you make your clients feel like “rockstars” outside of conferences?
- The software helps people to be better at their job and succeed.
When trying to find an entry point with a client, where do you start?
- Try to find individuals within an organization that need to make a difference at the grassroots level – not high up. However, don’t waste too much time before trying to work your way up into a company.