I was as a consultant for over a decade before I launched Prelo. The best prospecting process I used was always direct outreach. As I’m now a SaaS Startup founder, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. 🤔
In this blog I’m going to share some insights on how to create a solid prospecting process that will unlock more sales for your consulting agency. The goal is to help you close more deals with Startups.
Did you know that 60% of customers say “NO” four times before they say “YES”. 😲
The big secret is to create email sequences that offer value.
For the purpose of this blog, marketing agencies and software development houses are regarded as consulting agencies. 🎉
So, if you’re ready to close more deals with funded Startups, let’s get straight into it.
Why a prospecting process is important when selling to Startups
Prospecting Startups is very different to prospecting other sectors because Startups are fast moving companies. What was true yesterday morning has probably changed 5 times by the afternoon.
The misconception with a lot of small businesses is that “Startups” are all small companies trying to survive. This is not entirely true for all; the term Startup still applies to Airbnb even though they are now a unicorn.
What you should change about your prospecting process
A Startup is a business that is revolutionizing an industry, they are bringing in huge change and completely reimagining the way people and businesses perform an activity.
Startups raise a lot of money from investors to help them achieve these huge changes.
Therefore, creating your prospecting strategy around the categorization of Startups by stage is your unfair advantage. This is especially true if your goal is to get your sales conversion up. You must be specific about the types of Startups you want to collaborate with.
So, start categorizing by funding, this is a great way to qualify Startups. It’s the best way to segment the types of prospects you want to work with.
Saying that you serve “growth stage funded Startups in the marketing automation industry” sounds much better than saying you serve “Tech Startups”.
I’m more likely to engage with a consulting agency if they shared that level of detail because I feel that they understand the Startup ecosystem.
That is why Prelo wants to change the way agencies and small businesses do outreach. We are going to do this through education. Prelo will make sure that you speak the same language as your prospects.
8 Steps to build a prospecting process for your consulting agency and close deals with Startups
We’ve taken some steps to help you create the ultimate process for attracting the Startups that have a budget to pay for your services. First you must create an ideal customer profile, gain social proof and start creating a digital footprint on social media. The next step is to launch an outreach email campaign.
Remember, the Startup world is fast moving and it’s the bleeding-edge of technology. So, it’s natural to expect your prospects to check out your social media account once they’ve opened your email.
Let’s get started.
1. Start your prospecting process by creating an ideal customer profile
An ideal customer profile cannot be generic, it has to be focused. The focus can be in a specific industry or across several industries but within a specific company size say 1 – 50 employees.
Start by creating a website, you will have to create a special page for Startups so that Startups feel like you’re talking to them. A landing page that says “Consulting Services for the marketing industry” will not be a good title. However, creating a website page with a headline like:
Headlines that convert Startup founders to become your customers
- We build MVP solutions for recently funded Startups
- We design interactive websites for SaaS Startups
- We develop social marketing strategies for Seed funded Startups
Creating a specific headline like this allows your prospects to self-qualify. This means you only engage with the Startups that meet the above criteria. I know, it’s easy to chase the money, trust me you will get a significantly higher email open rate and subsequently more sales conversions by keeping it super targeted.
2. Build your network with Startups to earn trust
Building your network is easy once you’ve created your ideal customer profile. If you create websites for recently funded Startups, then focus on building a network of Startups funded in the last 18 months.
For context, when Startups raise between $10m – $20m it takes months to align on how the money will be spent while they identify and prioritize the more important projects.
In light of this, a Startup that was funded 18 months ago is regarded as recently funded Startup. Now is perhaps a great time to mention that funding information is one of the core features we’ve built into Prelo.
Note: for larger funding rounds the timeline can extend to 3yrs
How do you earn trust? The answer is by giving, you can give value through email or just jumping on a zoom call with a prospect without an agenda to sell.
3. Nurture your warm leads to improve your prospecting process
We had a hard time with our first Startup doing outreach and nurturing warm leads. That’s why we’ve created a number sequencing templates to help you nurture warm leads.
At the last count, we’ve got a total of 16 email templates. Of course, you can modify these and make them your own, but these are exactly the type of templates you need to keep your prospects engaged.
4. Send personalized emails to Startup founders and decision makers
Listen, email is not dead! Email prospecting is by far the most effective prospecting process out there. Over 75% of customers say that they preferred to be contacted via email.
I think what we are all tired of, is generic email. We want email that’s been put together with some thought. So, whilst we share email templates in Prelo, it is a guide to help you construct a hyper-personalized email.
The open rate of hyper-personalized emails is at almost 30% versus generic emails at 21% across all industries. Use our templates to build the foundation but create a personalized email to get a meeting.
5. Only work with Startups that will give you a referral
Referrals make the world go round. This is how most agencies gain credibility and attract more Startups. If a Startup is unprepared to give referrals, then I’d strongly suggest moving on to find a Startup that will.
As a Startup founder, I’m more inclined to work with a company that has testimonials and referrals from other Startups. Even more inclined if those Startups are in a similar industry.
6. Share knowledge about your industry
I’m sure you’ve read posts on LinkedIn from so-called thought leaders. The information they share is super valuable. It’s born out of deep research into a particular sector. Startup founders do the same.
Actually, I share information all the time about the Startup industry to give agencies a better insight about selling to Startups.
You need to do the same, it’s vital that you share information about your industry and the things that seem obvious to you aren’t obvious to the Startup world. Sharing something like a standard contract template you use to work with Startups could be a life saver for me.
7. Offer your prospects value to create engagement
Offering value is not as difficult as it seems. If you truly understand your customer’s pain point then you’ll know what type of value they’ll appreciate.
Prelo is a sales prospecting platform that specializes in helping small businesses such as agencies, sell to Startups. So, the value that we bring, is educating you about Startups.
We do that through our blogs, social media accounts and newsletters. If you are a consulting agency, you educate your prospects by sharing information.
Examples of content that creates engagement
- The top 10 mistakes Startups make when choosing a consulting agency
- 5 questions you should ask a consulting agency before you sign the contract
- Agency attrition rates is at 30% – 5 ways to keep growing when an agency is losing staff.
These may seem obvious to you as an agency or a consulting firm. As a Startup these are issues that keep us founders awake at night.
Providing this type of information demonstrates transparency and builds trust. I would much rather call an agency that’s offering me value whilst asking for nothing in return than one that’s just trying to sell me their services.
8. Follow up with your prospects to seal the deal
Why are follow-up emails important?
Your job as an agency owner is to always follow up. 44% of sales people give up after 1 follow-up email four times before they say yes. So, make it a point to follow and build the relationship with the founder or key decision maker. Work hard so that you become the person decision makers come to for advice.
How to follow-up with a Startup in 5 simple steps
- Keep the email short, I mean shorter than the cold email
- Add more value by providing new specific insight
- Make it easy for me to reply (Yes, No, Not Yet)
- Double down on why your product or service will help me scale or reduce costs
It’s probably a great time to mention that Prelo has a list of follow up emails in our templates section. This is available to our customers on the standard subscription plan.
Tired of pitching to Startups with zero budget?
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🎯 Send super targeted emails to well-funded Startups and 10x your revenue
Until the next time.
I tweet about helping founders win!