3 Effective Sales Tips For Startups From The Founder Of pbazaar.com

Muhammad Shahin

Muhammad Shahin

Sales is one of the core competencies of any successful venture. While having a great product sets the tune right, steering customer development and leading to successful sales leads is no less important a job.

Sales is a precarious job. For startups [cue: read about the most exciting startups in Dhaka], it is even harder due to the lack of organizational process in place and connections. Effective sales require a strong process, powerful story, and a great team. But when you are small and could not afford a sales team, what to do?

Founder and CEO of Pbazaar.com, a property marketplace in Dhaka, Muhammad Shahin went through some of the difficult challenges startups face during early days. Initially, Shahin thought starting a marketplace would be expensive and without generating revenue, it would be difficult to survive. The idea was to start with a model that could generate revenue, which was selling real estate as agents and then gradually move on to become a marketplace.

Real estate is a slow product. And this strategy of evolving gradually served Shahin and his team well. But it took a lot of hard work. We asked Shahin, in a recent interview with FS, how did he manage customer development and sales during those early days. Here are 3 tips from Shahin to streamline sales at your startup.

Start with the people you know

You would always find people who need your product or service in your network. So, it is easier to start with looking for people you know who might need your service and pitch them. This has three advantages in particular: 1) you can start selling comparatively easily, 2) you can get feedback and 3) you can ask for new connections.

“During early days, it was largely personal network”, says Shahin, “I spent a lot of time in corporate networking.”

Build relationship and ask for help

Sales is dull and sometimes intrusive. Instead, build relationships, connect genuinely with your users. Only when your users no more consider you as a salesman, you will see a difference in how they treat you.

“When we used to get a client in a particular company and we knew that there were other potential clients in that company, we used to nurture our relationship with the first client,” says Shahin, “in order to expand our network primarily within the company and later to others. This approach helped us to get to rameen profitability at the early stage and our business to survive.”

Make your customers happy

“We worked hard to make our clients happy so that they refer and talk about us”, says Shahin, “we invested heavily in building relationships with our clients and that has paid off.”

There is popular saying: happy customers are your best marketers. When you customers are happy they would refer your service to other people which is way more effective a marketing than any promotion. Build something that your users love and make sure that they are happy with your service.

The caveat here is that often we focus on the next big thing or customer instead of investing time in serving our existing users. It is critical that we spend as much as time, if not more, in retaining our existing customers as we spend in acquiring new ones.

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