What is the super-power of sales? Really good knowledge of customers!

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On the second Future 4.0 meeting/meetup, organized by the SAŠA Incubator, Gorenje and Kolektor in Velenje, we shared knowledge, advice and experience from the start-up and corporate perspective about properly addressing sales of innovative technological products or solutions for which the market is not yet developed.

Excellent discussion partners

We placed the question of how to avoid the pitfalls and the risks posed by sales of innovative products in different stages of life or of the company and market with the established start-up entrepreneur, mentor and consultant, Mr. Rok Stritar, who had led his trade with mountaineering equipment Kibuba to a gazelle company.

Mr. Matjaž Slak, a former sales "executive" in IBM, a start-up consultant and mentor, who now runs business development in Kolektor Digital spoke about building sales as a stable, predictable and repeatable business function. And the aspect of corporations was illuminated by Mr. Saša Marković, executive vice president for sales at Gorenje.


If you don`t know who you`re selling to, you wont sell a thing

According to Rok Strihar, the most important element of the sales is really good and detailed knowing of one`s customers. "Talk to your customers, and above all, listen carefully, because this is the super power that most start-ups that sell disruptive solutions have as opposed to corporations. In other words - if you don`t understand who you`re selling to, you won`t sell it.”

Lean is the thing!

Throughout his successful business path, Rok Stritar has searched for a fundamental orientation for evaluating of all his activities, including sales. He found it in the “lean” methodology, based on five principles:

  1. Commercial companies exist so to generate profit for the owner(s), and this should be considered in making of all decisions.
  2. The goals can only be reached when a certain value is generated for the users, and it is up to the businessmen to know what this value is.
  3. Everything that does not generate value for users must be treated as waste that needs to be removed from the work processes.
  4. A perfect process has no waste.
  5. There is no such thing as the perfect process ergo there is always room for improvement.

 

Help customer buy

The second lecturer at the Future 4.0 meetup was Mr. Matjaž Slak, managing business development in Kolektor Digital. In his work, he follows five basic principles of sales:

  1. Be aware of who is your target customer. Do not sell everything to everyone.
  2. It makes no sense to force someone into buying if he/she has no reason to buy.
  3. If your solution is not designed to solve some specific problem, it is bound to fail.
  4. Do not merely sell, help the customer find a solution to a problem resp. help him/her buy.
  5. Although you may well know that you can help, forget it if the customer doesn`t.

 

It won`t be easy, it won`t be cheap, and it won`t happen fast

Beside said five principles, Matjaž Slak explained how, for the innovative products, a predictable and reproductive sales function is built, which in his experience includes seven key rules:

  1. It won`t be easy, it won`t be cheap, and it won`t just happen!
  2. Consider the development phase! First sell to establish the problem and the basic solution, after this find out what the customers would actually buy, and in the end sell to establish how to grow.
  3. Innovativeness is problematic because the users are not aware of the problem, do not know how to eliminate it, and fail to recognize that there already exists a solution to this problem.
  4. Sales are not (should not be considered) art or some magical process nobody understands. Build a system that is predictable and reproductive and is yet to be established for the innovative products.
  5. Always have an answer to the customer`s question: why do i need this?
  6. Customer in B2B sales is not one person. Get to know the entire hierarchy of the purchasing process resp. the decision-makers.
  7. Address a predictable and reproductive sales only when you have established and market-tested a sales process (steps) and tools (CRM, program, etc.)

 

Empathy and good listening are key elements

The Future 4.0 Meet-up ended with a round table with all three counterparts. Saša Markovič stressed that sales are not about talking but about listening. And added that when searching for a good salespeople it is important to find someone who had already walked the shoes of a customer, is deeply empathetic resp. has the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

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About the Future 4.0 conference and meet-ups

The Future 4.0 conference, dedicated to the integration of start-ups and corporations and the exchange of good practices in the field of innovation for Industry 4.0, was first organized by the SAŠA incubator team in November last year, and supported by industrial giants Gorenje and Kolektor and a number of public and private partners.

This year, the Conference will be held on November 20 and 21 2019, and till then, its mission is to preserve Future 4.0 meetings or meet-ups, where participants exchange knowledge and experience from different business areas of high-tech enterprises – from the fields of management, recruitment, sales, development, etc.

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