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Are you bootstrapping your startup?
Do you aspire to build an amazing product, earn passive income and be recognized in the startup world?
It's a common scenario in today's tech-focused world. Many entrepreneurs decide to use their own funds to build a profitable business.
One of the toughest parts of a bootstrapped SAAS business is low cash flow (especially at the beginning).
Discovering a marketing channel that works is vitally important for any business, but this especially applies early on for SAAS businesses that don't have much cash flow.
You need customers to build up your monthly recurring revenue so you can grow and expand your product.
Venture-backed startups have been using direct sales strategies for the longest time. The typical process is to raise capital, hire a sales team, gather your leads and call until you convert them to customers.
But the bootstrappers don't seem to follow this methodology. They complain that direct sales doesn't scale or that they simply don't have the money to hire a sales team.
Most bootstrapped SAAS companies go down the route of content marketing, paid advertising or word of mouth to find their customers.
COMMON REASONS FOR NOT USING DIRECT SALES
Everyone seems to have an excuse when it comes to direct sales. Granted, direct sales isn't the sexiest thing in the world, but it does work.
Let's have a look at some of the most common excuses...
I DON'T HAVE THE TIME
If you're expanding rapidly without using direct sales, then you're fine but if you're not seeing too much traction, your time isn't as valuable as you think.
You must spend your time on direct sales to get some traction in your business. If you're doing $500 MRR then spending 7 hours to get to $700 MRR is totally worth it. You should be willing to pick up the phone and do all the grunt work to get that initial traction!
The powerful thing about direct sales is you get valuable feedback. With strategies like content marketing, you don't get this at all. The nature of social interaction with direct sales means you'll get a better understanding of your customers through the feedback they give you. This will allow you to tweak your product/service to better suit the needs of the market.
IT'S NOT SCALABLE
This is one of the most common objections bootstrapped SAAS owners have when it comes to direct sales. People make the assumption that direct sales isn't scalable. Granted, content marketing can scale in a huge way but direct sales isn't much different.
If you can establish a system, and a process that works, you can absolutely scale your sales operations. Even Startups like Slack (the king of referral marketing) have a sales team.
Direct sales will also make future sales easier for you. How? By building up your list of clients that you can use for social proof to sell more customers. This is a great way to build trust and credibility for your brand.
MAKING DIRECT SALES WORK FOR YOU
In the early stages of your business, you'll want to find out what problems your target market is having with the products they're already using. In many cases, prospects will be using a competitors product. By asking about the problems/frustrations they have, you can find ways to improve your product and make it superior to your competition.
The bottom line here is to start a conversation with your prospective customers. Find out how you can serve them better and offer to get on a call with them to demo your product.
There are two main ways to do this. You can use powerful tools like Nerdy Data to find the websites that use your competitor's products. For example, if you're an email marketing company, you can search through all websites that use MailChimp for their email marketing!
You would then sort the websites to your requirements and reach out by email asking them about their frustrations with whichever provider they're using.
The second way to do this is to pick specific niches. Are you targeting professional bloggers? Digital marketing consultants? Lawyers? Find out where they hang out online and deliver your message straight to them.
MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO SAY YES!
What objections do your prospects have about your product? There really shouldn't be any. You want to make it super easy for them to switch over to your offering.
The important thing here is to take the hassle out of signing up with you. Many prospects will already be set up with a competitor, and the most popular objection people tend to have is the hassle of switching everything over.
I remember migrating my email marketing account from MailChimp over to Convertkit, it took ages and I would've done it much sooner if I didn't have to spend hours changing everything.
You could offer a service like this for your prospective customers. If you want to take the hassle out of switching, for example, offer to perform the entire migration for them! This way you're removing any possible objections people would have to sign up with you.
DO WHAT DOESN'T SCALE
Pretty much all venture-backed startups are familiar with sales, but for some reason, the smaller bootstrapped companies hesitate to get into it. Sales provide the initial traction you need to get your business moving in the right direction and put you in a position to invest in things that scale much faster.