Miraj Profile picture
21 Feb, 38 tweets, 6 min read
I have been thinking about selling innovative technology to Indian Mid-Size and Large co.s and realised I’ve been doing it for nearly 10 years (both hardware and software)

B2B Sales for Startups to Indian co.s is not always pleasant. Here are my learnings for young startups🧵
At the onset, let me share this is a largely unstructured thread but I've tried to add a lot of information and learnings. It's important to share.
Companies love to see innovations.
They don’t always like to pay for it.
They will always offer their brand to you as something you can piggy back on. “Use our logo and you’ll sign every other company on Earth and Mars.”
Truth is. There is no 1 thing that can catapult anyone’s success, let alone a full company. In creating long term value, short termism leads to disastrous consequences for startups.
Which brings me to an important point. Never do free pilots or POCs. Get people to pay for your services. Always.
Be ready to refuse companies. The ability to say no is a superpower.
My ability to say no to companies stems from my time at building Outsell - A Sales Enablement Platform where we didn’t have a CTO. Development meant money we didn’t have.
It ensured that I had extreme faith in what my product could offer, what it couldn’t, and what would tick at said customer’s deployment. I’d back each no with data and eventually, clients would understand. There’s never that 1 feature that ensures people will buy your product.
No was never to offend customers but to let them know that their 'feature' ask was for something they might not even use in the future. Like a co. early asked me create a SSO through Yammer (iirc). 3 people used it in 5 years of Outsell with the client.
Salespeople (me included) have gone back to developers to tell them how 1 small feature would mean a huge deal will be signed. It never works. No one buys for 'that one feature'.
Please understand prospects in India never say no. Salespeople are always hopeful because of this. Read the signals. Move on.
If someone told you that you should call back next quarter. Don’t be that guy who marks the calendar to call them back next quarter. I’ve been that guy, probably still am, but the truth is, they’re not going to buy.
Like most people, I get telesales calls. I have become empathetic to them even more, now that they work from home during the pandemic. I tell them no and why they should strike me off that excel sheet or CRM. Same for emails. Don’t leave people hanging.
Understanding your limitations & piggy backing on your strengths is very important as a young startup.

In software speak, 'You're not IBM.'
You will always think that your product or service is so good that everyone can use it.
Reality is that you will be successful if you select a subset who needs it the most.
By focussing on 1-2 Customer Segments
You will shorten your sales cycle.
You will get case studies.
You will win the network effects sales.
This is a great article on how network effects propel sales from

Don’t get disheartened that you are not able to capture the entire market. You are too young to do it anyway. What’s the popular Twitter line from @Naval we keep seeing?

The most important thing in India is cost and the 2nd-10th most important thing in India is also cost. So be ready with your ROI metrics and Cost Savings.
This is important even for your earliest Evangelists. They might like you and bet some money to use your product but the bottom line will remain cost as of today and little heed will be given to the incremental long-term value you’re trying to create.
Do your homework. Planning is important and some elements of marketing in a young startup are with sales anyway.
Go through the exercise of creating your Ideal Customer Profile. Do they like WhatsApp or Emails or Calls? Find patterns from your conversations and build one. Hubspot has a lot of templates.
Once your Ideal Customer Profile is ready. You have to build lists of companies which will be well, Ideal Customers for your product or service.
Prospect Lists are important. I generally veer towards 2 types of lists after zeroing in on Industry Subset -

1. Aim & Shoot
2. Carpet Bomb
Let me explain Aim & Shoot. These are a select list of companies that absolutely must buy your product or service and therefore they require an Account-Based Marketing approach. You should know everyone in these companies who can move the discussion to a purchase.
At no point do you stop your efforts with this company unless you’re told to just leave them alone because remember these co.s are earmarked as ones who absolutely must buy your offering.
In the important book, Challenger Sale, we learn customers involve 5.4 different people in a typical purchase decision. So don’t just reach out to 1 person in companies. Reach out to everyone.
Carpet Bombing is for a larger set of companies which ‘could’ be your buyers. Here again, the list is created with all stakeholders from each company. These are subjected to email chains and other journeys depending on their interactions with emails.
You can set up triggers, events, chains on your CRM or via services like Mailshake, Mailchimp, SendX. People open emails if you write them well. Structure, Body, Subject Line and Deliverability are all important.
What should take your time and what shouldn’t?
Large Companies have longer Sales Cycles and a higher temptation attached to them. Avoid the urge.
Medium sized ones and small sized businesses make decisions faster. These are family driven, mostly. Decision makers are fairly easy to spot. Pursue them with a vigour if they are in your aim & shoot list.
TIP: For the segment you have chosen to target, you should make a list of companies and then go deep into Zauba Corp’s website to find the Directors. There you’ll see the latest director in a company. That’s the new generation coming in. That’s who will listen to you. :)
As entrepreneurs we always price our products very low. I don’t know where I read it but we must price our products like our mothers would. A million dollars.
@prasanna_says always recommends pricing it high. Listen to him.
The early adopters and evangelists will pay good money if it solves a problem in their daily operations. They will pay even more if the pain is apparent. Find those.
If there’s a nail in our shoe sole, you don’t bother if it doesn’t bother you. It has to pierce through the sole and socks to hurt you. Find problems as deep as this in companies that your offering solves.
Find customers who are already trying to solve the problem internally or actively looking for a solution. They are the one who will buy, try, provide feedback and make you richer. Literally.
Last thing before I close this thread is Payments.
Even as a young startup, you can dictate the terms.
Start with an audacious ask say 100% advance. Cede some territory to the client.
Meet at the middle ground which was ok for you anyway. :)
And be ready to chase payments as your full time job. Very few clients are great at payments and most require persistent followups, visits, calls, emails, proof of work before money is released.
I hope this has been helpful. It’s something I’ve written after a long time so the structure is a bit off. Do share what has worked for you as a startup selling to Indian co.s!

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