Execution: Getting to Revenue

A non-linear brain dump on getting to revenue.

  • What is the basic transaction that generates revenue
  • Who is the seller. If it’s you, great. You can work on you. If it’s somebody else, you have to recruit them and help them be better sellers, like eBay does. 
  • Who is the buyer? Do you understand the buyer? She’s not a customer until she buys, and buying is a process in most cases, not an impulse. You’re not selling impulse crap at the cash register. 
  • Develop a customer profile–what does the perfect customer look like? What do they do? Why is your product relevant to them? Can you save them time, money, pain, hassle? Don’t sell enhancements–sell pain relief. 
  • How do you find your customers?
  • What is your value proposition? Why should we care? Why should we part with our money on your behalf? 
  • How do they find you? They’ve never heard of you. They hear from your marketing, a friend, voices in their head–somewhere–that there’s this product that can help them do things better faster stronger, cut time, make more money. 
  • What is their decision-making process? This is an important one. Here’s one breakdown, off the cuff (i.e., develop your own by studying your prospects and customers
    1. Introduction to the product
    2. Understanding the benefits
    3. Knowing and believing the value proposition
    4. Researching alternatives, most of which have much more history and established credibility than our little startups
    5. Calculating budget, return on investment, etc
    6. Asking permission–of themselves, their spouses, their boss, their technology guru–whoever owns the budget or is considered an important influencer. This depends on your customer profile.
    7. Yes I want to buy, so please, please make it easy for me, make me feel great because I’ve chosen you over the others, deliver with a smile, send a note a day or two after, check in, offer support, be nice, be gracious, send me a nice fruit basket. Whatever makes me feel like you’re my new best friend (yeah, I know you’re not, but be nice). 
    8. Ask them for their feedback, their story about how they use the product, and if they’d be willing to lend a quote to help others believe faster. 
  • The other side of their buying process is your selling/helping process. For each step, what can you do to help them past their current decision-making stage? How can you move them from stage 3 to stage 5, skipping stage 4? Figure it out. Narrow it down. Refine it. Make sure what you’re doing doesn’t get in their way or piss them off. 
  • You don’t deserve their business yet. Or maybe you do. But early on you likely really don’t quite deserve their business. Be humble. Be thankful. And as you grow don’t lose that. I’ve lost that from time to time. Or rather, it wasn’t the norm for long periods of time until I got my head cracked and attitude adjusted. 
    1. It’s not about you. Go through your site, your email marketing, your internal docs, and ask yourself “is this about me?”

      If you’re making things about you, celebrating how great you are and how wonderful your startup is, you’re wasting everyone’s time and misleading yourself and your backers. It’s not about you. It’s about the people who benefit from what you’re doing.  

      1. Don’t get sucked in by social media. It is supplementary, not primary. 
      2. The hardest part of growing a startup is establishing the first reliable, satisfied group of customers. Finding them, selling to them, serving them with your inadequate first, second, and maybe even third attempt. It’s hard. It’s not a month. It’s not 6 months. It’s likely more than a year before you get it right–adequately right–and another 2 years before you’re really knocking it at of the park. Tip: the park is much bigger than you think. 
      3. There is no silver bullet. It takes thousands of silver bullets. And because there are no werewolves (as far as I know), there’s no use for them except to melt them down, sell them to silver dealers, and use the money to get your shit together, which in this case means creating repeatable processes that get your prospects to the transaction and shouting your name with joy from their rooftops, busses, and mountaintops. 
      Go forth and work backwards from the transaction, take two aspirin and go find yourself some customers. 

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