The power of personal relationships in the phases of sales at startups. – STARTUPS TIPS, MENTORSHIP & SALES

The power of personal relationships in the phases of sales at startups. - STARTUPS TIPS, MENTORSHIP & SALES 1

How I switched from a technical mind to business and sales mind. An introduction to my personal story.

When I started as a Business Development Manager in 2014. I didn’t know how business and sales were working. Neither how to develop new business or convince the partner or customers from the emotional side.

I was a computer engineer and my experience was as a network and security administrator and as a developer of my thesis in a lab in Milan. Therefore, I was focusing on the technical features of the solutions.

It took me a while to realize the emotional side of the business and sales. One senior CEO was the first to teach me the power of building relationships in the long term in the business world.

The sales are divided into five different phases. There are many versions of how many phases take to make sales. For the purpose of this article, I will divide into 5 phases:

  1. Lead generation.
  2. Presentation.
  3. PoC (Proof of Concept) or PoV (Proof of Value).
  4. Purchase order (Decision Makers).
  5. Up-selling and cross-selling.

The purpose of this article is not to explain the basic things about sales processes and phases.

I will tell you few true stories and conversations from different countries, type of companies and role positions and all of them they have in common.

Lets start with the Lead Generation phase.

1. You need to give first in order to receive later.

This is related to how to generate the leads. One former colleague, let’s call him “Peter”. Peter has been introducing for the last 10 years, new vendors as a local business developer in the local market.

One day, I was asked him about his secret or key points in his career:

  • “Peter, how do you do to make these introductions successfully to the partners?”
  • “Javier, there is no special secret. One of the key points: First you need to give in order to receive later. Therefore, I move in parallel my relationship with partners and my relationship with customers. Once, there is a customer interested, I choose a specific partner which has showed interest in the partnership. After this, I would expect that this specific partner bring me more of his customers or the partner introduces our solution as compensation.”

In my personal opinion, it is not about having a compensation. What are the key points in this methodology?

This shows the needs of customers and how to meet those needs with real examples.

This is the way to show the partner how the new solution meets the needs of customers that were not previously covered. In other words, they cover a gap in the market. On the other hand it helps to have a prototype of potential clients that the solution could fit.

It allows you to bring you new partners and customers mutually at the same time

From one side you give new customers and contacts to your partner. From the other hand, the partner gives you new customers. At the same time, many customers are happy to work with a new partner. The new partner may bring to them added value and different new solutions.

2. After you have built a relationship with a customer, you get a customer in the long term.

The current case, it is the process of new introductions and presentations to partners and customers.

A senior European CEO has been introducing a lot of new vendors and solutions for more than 15 years. Once he closes a contract with a new solution, his partners and customers listen to him and he is able to open many new doors to the vendor in a short time.

One day he was explaining how he made this methodology successfully for many years.

“Javier, I have introduced many new vendors in the local markets for many years. I choose and analyze always the new technologies before I sign the contract. From one side my partners and customers know that I choose properly the new technologies, from the other hand I helped and worked with them in the past so they have the confidence they are in the good hands with me.”

3. You can do hundreds of presentations, without the decision maker it will be harder to move forward.

One of the key points that I have learned, it is building the relationship with the decision makers. I also have the pleasure to meet one senior Italian salesperson experience in bringing new solutions into the market. He has built relationships with his customers in different companies for more than 20 years. Once again, the pattern is similar to the previous one. Let’s call him “Alessandro”. Here is the personal conversation:

  • “Alessandro. I know other senior sales people introducing new solutions in the market. However, many of them are able to open doors but not closing as many deals. How is your personal case?”
  • “Javier, open the doors is the first step of the sales phase. Many people are able to do it with network and security administrators, it means lower position level. However, if you don’t speak after the whole process with the decision maker and convince them, it will be much harder to move forward.”

Besides this, a decision maker and c-level will be also able to open the door and close the door at the same time. It is important to be aware of the language used to the C-Level people, it is different from the language used to the system and network administrators.

4. The most important is the relationship, no make the order or transaction.

I have met many senior sales people meanwhile they have been working in different companies.

One day, one of my former colleagues taught me a valuable lesson: “Javier, If the solution don’t cover their requirements, I never press my customers and partners to move forward or to purchase my solutions. They always listen to me because they know I am bringing solutions to their problems. Personally, I prefer to don’t make my quote, rather than burn out a personal relationship for the future” – Anonymous.

The lesson learned.

Sales is a way to fix or prevent current or potential problems in the customer environment. In this case, system or network infrastructure and daily work.

Therefore, the customers are paying you in order to find the most proper solution for their current problem. If you help your customer and you are in the shoes of your customers, you are showing also your added value as an expert on the specific subject.

5. Reputation matters.

I have heard this speech a lot of times, from partners and colleagues. All of them have a very good reputation in the local country. This is my personal opinion:

“It is better to have some losses on money or time rather reputation losses. The money you can always replace very fast, the reputation is a long process to build and a short time to destroy”- Javier Nieto León – Founder & CEO at Startups Tips.

Of course, it doesn’t warrant that you may find some isolated bad experiences. Not everything is up to them if they cross with unfair customers or partners. However, it is up to them to choose to keep working with these partners and customers and it also up to them how to handle these situations.

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Javier Nieto León

Founder & CEO at Startups TIPS

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