6 years as Software Engineer, 3 years as a Product Manager
I want to share some insights and experiences at HRtech B2B startup, where I had an opportunity to work with Alchemist Accelerator, which helped us enter the U.S. market. Our company helped tech businesses attract developers by creating web games, replacing the usual quests with programming tasks tied to hiring. It was a nice way to solve the hiring problem.
The acceleration program by Alchemist consisted mainly of teaching sales and raising investments. Before the first lessons, we took our time and hit some major roadblocks.
We wanted to automate and package our experience and understanding of sales in the Russian market. So we took the same steps and started looking for automation tools on Linkedin for mass mailings. But, unfortunately, that was our first mistake, and we spent a lot of time in vain with no results.
At the beginning of the program, the founder needs to choose two coaches: sales-coach and CEO-coach, from a massive list of experts and mentors. In this rocket engine network at the Alchemist, you can find a mentor from almost any large company or well-known startup.
So after talking to the coach, we received some useful pointers:
1. Have a hands-on approach in the communication processes to understand what points in the messages respond to. That is, start without automation. At this stage, we switched from selling head-on to getting the design maker's attention with his expertise. As a result, we started to gain traction.
We changed our strategy and started to write more personalized emails. For example,
"… we have a solution for this problem in your company, let's talk about it"
"You're a leader in your industry. The articles you published resonated with us, especially the paragraph about ***, and now we are designing the product based on this topic...", etc.
In the abovementioned case, an expert tired of the monotonous is flattered because they are consulted about something worth their time.
2. Get some strong advisors to join your team. In this case, there are certain requirements for advisers; they must be leaders in the area you sell. For example, we sold our product to H.R. in large companies; then it made sense for us to take a VP (vice-president) or C-level H.R. in an advisory board of well-known companies (Google, Microsoft, Cisco), who would be the person that opens the door to other companies.
This person's motivation is they get a small percentage or option in the startup and have the opportunity to pioneer a groundbreaking product in the market.
How might such a person help you? Firstly, adding an influential name to the presentation will already help improve conversion. Secondly, they can attract warm leads from companies and circles they mingle with.
3. Start working with a company that brings customers for money, such as a sales department on outsourcing. This would be a great way to get your first revenue. There are some outstanding startups, but they don't come cheap. To start working with them, you have to make an advance payment of $14,000, but they guarantee you X introductions and calls to the target client for this check.
I found these three steps to be beneficial, and they yielded promised results. However, it is essential to be wary when finding people to collaborate with. You need to have the right connections and be willing to put in extra work, especially with research and finding your mentor to get your foot in the door. Industry experts can be found on Linkedin, but it is not guaranteed that they will be interested in being part of your advisory team. Make sure your product and proposal are worth their time and commitment.
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