How To Do B2B Email Sales

Direct sales via email is a powerful channel to sell your product or service. Before I learned how to sell via email from Noah Kagan I had no idea how powerful the email sales channel was (I know I was a rookie). If you have proven the need and value of your product, direct email sales may be the best channel for your solution. If you can close via email you have a scalable sales process and can drive demand for your product. Here are 5 email sales tips that will help you close more deals via email:

1. Make it about the prospect.

Humans by nature are selfish and self-centered. We only care about ourselves. To be a top level sales dude you need to focus on the customer. Every email, phone call, and skype session needs to focus on the prospect’s needs and how you can help them. When writing emails avoid saying “I” or “we” and instead say “you”. Focus on helping your customers and building relationships with them. Show them you truly care and the sales will flow.

2) Keep it short (and easy to read).

Hey The Startup Foundry Reader,

You are awesome!

Please keep your emails to 5 sentences or less.

It also helps to space out each sentence.

Does this make sense?

Cheers,
Matt

You need to keep emails short and to the point out of respect for the recipient. Be clear about how you can help them, who you are, and what you are offering. Also remember emails today are read on all types of devices so spacing out each sentence improves readability. Your recipient may only scan your email so keeping it short and spaced out increases the probability that your message will actually be read.

3. Use Canned Responses.

Gmail’s Canned Responses is an unbelievable tool. It allows you to setup templates and fire off proven tested emails quickly. Here is an email sales video I created that talks about Canned Responses and other email sales topics.

4. It is all about the headline/subject.

Here are a few email headline tips:

  • Use the customers name in the headline
  • Use words like Exclusive, Free, or Time-Sensitive
  • Complement the customer in the headline
  • Capitalize most of the words
  • Make it about them not you!

5. Use Call-to-Actions.

Tell the person you are emailing what you want and by when. For example say “If you are interested please email me by November 29th”. Don’t be a wimp. Ask for the sale. You will never get what you want if you do not ask for it.

Selling via email is the perfect way to get your first few customers. If you learn to type fast and leverage Canned Responses you can fire off hundreds of personally tailored emails everyday. Don’t be scared to hit people via other channels like LinkedIn, Skype or Twitter as well. Make sure to test and track all your email sales activities so you can constantly improve your skills.

Email sales is a massive topic and I am still learning. Please comment below and share your tips with other email sellers.

This is a guest post written by Matt A. Smith (@MattASmitty co-founder of VideoLark.com)

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It’s Not About Features

Bearer of bad news

Recently, I’ve been asked to give a talk to new and/or aspiring entrepreneurs.
The truth is, I almost resent talking to them, as I hate being the bearer of bad news.
And boy, there are many. I usually start with: “It’s going to be harder than you think, it will take longer than you think, you will lose health, friends and money in the process, and you probably won’t succeed in the end.”

But there is a good news. Especially valuable in the startup community, but not only.
This good news makes the conversation worth having, because so few people are aware of it:
You don’t need to have more features than your competitors to successfully launch your product.

Case study – Steve Ballmer vs iPhone

Steve Ballmer, January 2007, on the newly announced iPhone: “You can get a Motorolla Q phone now, for $99; it is a very capable machine, it will do music, it will do internet, it will do email, it will do instant messaging. So I kinda look at that and I say, I like our strategy, I like it a lot.”

Ballmer obviously failed to understand that users actually do care about the way they use their device, not just that it “does it”.

Yes, you couldn’t install apps on the original iPhone (can you believe it?). Yes, you couldn’t use the 3G network. And there was no camera. And on top of that, it was crazy expensive.
So why did it prevail? Where was Ballmer wrong?

He just made the common mistake of many entrepreneurs, upcoming and experienced alike: Users actually do care about the way they use their device, not just that it “does it”.
The iPhone then went on to become the gold standard in the smartphone industry.

Three years later, difference device, same story.
Remember how the iPad was decried for being pricey, while having way less features than its competitors? No USB ports, no camera, no multitasking, no Flash…
Phil Schiller (Senior VP of Worldwide product marketing at Apple) dismissed these criticisms in a very simple way:  “It’s not about the features — it’s about the experience. You just have to try it to see what I mean.” (source).

Not just for big companies

This approach works especially well for young startups, and you still don’t have to be first. Just more focused than your competitors.

Google didn’t invent search engines when they released Google search.
37signals didn’t invent web based project managment softwares with Basecamp.
Dropbox surely didn’t invent concept of online backup services.

Being focused on the core of your product is a big part of the “Lean Startup” methodology.
You can watch the case studies of startups like Dropbox or IMVU here.

Conclusion – “Just do it”

There is still room for innovation everywhere. It will always be hard, but never impossible.
Always remember, to not just work harder, work smarter.

This is a guest post written by Christophe Maximin (@christophe971 creator of 72hDeals.com)

For more startup news follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

Market Your Problems. Not Just Your Assets. – Detroit Launch City

This is a guest post by Jason Lorimer. Jason is an entrepreneur @CulturaHQ, advocating on behalf of those with the ambition to do more than just entertain ideas.


It is my first time in Detroit and I am riding shotgun down the main drag that is Woodward Avenue with a long-enough-to-keep-safe lens equipped camera in hand. I sat on the edge of my passenger seat ready to capture some of that choice disaster porn I had heard so much about. In between snapping pictures of what looked to be bombed out buildings, I was struck by the feeling that I was witnessing something truly unshroud. Glide down one street akin to Park Avenue, make a sharp right turn and find yourself smack in the middle of an episode of The Wire. It felt like I was witnessing weeds bursting from cracks in the cement. Burgeoning culture at its boiling point. I was intrigued. Detroit moved me.

The Motor City has all the moving parts to be a Midwest start-up hub. Creating jobs, tax revenue and adding to the culture of entrepreneurship born on the backs of your blue collar blood line. What you need is entrepreneurs, more than you have and the kind that see building the next soup of the day mobile application as a waste of their ambition. These passionate, persistent folks are out there looking to be intrigued by a problem and supported in a way that makes solving it possible. You can attract and retain these entrepreneurs, thousands of them from across the country. Around the world. And you can do it without relying on tax payer subsidy or other market negative solutions. I will show you how.

Duplicate and Drown

Cities tend to make the mistake of trying to replicate the tech mecca that is Palo Alto, and the surrounding towns collectively known as “The Valley”, as it exists today. More than a few times I have read and overheard officials in different cities say “What we need is an anchor company. If only we had a Facebook, investment and talent would follow.” This is true to the extent that any company growing as fast as the worlds largest social network is always looking to hire but Mark Zuckerberg did not move from his Harvard dorm room out to California simply because you can trip and fall over a computer programmer on your way to lunch. It is safe to say he traveled across country in pursuit of what Silicon Valley represents. The smartest people tackling problems side by side and sharing in the sense of community that comes from succeeding and supporting in the same.

“Import” Is No Longer A Dirty Word

A vibrant entrepreneurial community is an evolution. It is where the void that is commonly experienced  problems intersect with the oxygen of ideas, entering into the bloodstream that is a supportive network of entrepreneur advocates. In addition to supporting your existing start-up community, you must import these solution-minded people from other parts of the country to spark your movement and to do that you have to market the problems your city faces and not just the assets you sustain. Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They look at the things most people discard as annoyances and say: I can fix that. You need entrepreneurs and they need you.

Urban Incubation. Global Application.

The problems your citizens face are not unique to Detroit. They are relevant to any urban environment in the US or abroad and as such are what one engaged in such things would refer to as market viable problems. That is that the prospective solutions for those problems have application in a mass market. In my work I communicate with dozens of entrepreneurs each month about their ventures. I find that most of the problems being addressed by these upstarts are a slight variation on something the market has already proven out. Another wards, a niche vertical of a business model made widely popular by a company you know.
A Groupon for this or a You Tube for that. It is as if the inspiration for these models are coming solely from Tech Crunch. Some would argue that this is actually a function of the early stage capital infrastructure but for the purposes of this article, let’s just focus on the opportunity that exists in packaging and presenting the problems encountered by your citizenry to attract those hungry for unique problems to solve.

Pick a Problem. Any Problem.
First, you must look to your citizens for intriguing problems to solve and there are any number of ways to do that. I prefer to enable people to participate in a mostly passive manner. Here is one way. I am working on another here in Philly as I write this. The key is interaction points where people in your community can tell you about the problems, big or small, they encounter. Ideally as they are affected by them as this is where insights are most valuable. Now, after reviewing and cleaning up the way these problems are presented, aggregate them into a live feed on a website and broadcast them to entrepreneurs around the world.

Stand up to the Crowd

When these ambitious folk come about your website linked from one of the hundreds of large tech start-up sites online who will follow and report on a city-fueled platform such as this (especially coming out of Detroit where the National press have found a disaster darling six years post-Katrina), they will see information about your city side by side with your problems listed. You should surely highlight those assets you have touted for years but now, in addition to the tax incentives, low cost of home ownership and beautiful waterfront, you will list your problems or more specifically those problems your citizens see in the course of their daily lives. Remember entrepreneurs like problems and with the click of their mouse, they can open a particular problem and create a crowd funding profile. Something similar to what you might find on Kickstarter. My suggestion would be to integrate this into what you are already doing with Kiva Detroit but it can surely done stand alone. By leveraging your existing network of advocates, giving citizens and expatriated business folk, you can raise say ten thousand dollars to relocate a potential founder to Detroit for an incubation period of 90-120 days. It will be easier than you might think. You also have supportive institutions to look to like that of the Knight and the Kauffman Foundation. In addition to capital it is important to support the incoming entrepreneur with the personal logistics of temporary to permanent relocation. Jack Miner at Tech Town made me aware of the Detroit Orientation Institute, an organization that might be perfectly equipped to lend a hand in this part of the process.

Incubate and Connect

Now that the entrepreneurs you look to support are incoming with solutions on the brain. Full of ambition and feeling supported in their personal efforts, you must also incubate their professional venture. I will leave you to determine what you consider incubation but for me, as I know these folks that would line up to be part of a platform such as this, you need only house them, preferably with fellow entrepreneurs, while connecting them to your existing network of entrepreneur advocates. Open office space in Detroit at the moment is a commodity I imagine and as for facilitating interaction between the new and existing entrepreneurs and mentors, you need do little if any more than create a directory where people can profile themselves and integrate their Twitter profiles and email addresses for communication. Set it up and get out of the way. My City of Brotherly Love has a great example of what I am talking about in something called We Work In Philly.

The entrepreneurs will work for those first months along side their fellows, sometimes splitting off into teams no doubt and iterating concepts in hopes of arriving at what they deem a minimum viable product. That is the bare bones version of the solution they wish to eventually scale into the market. You could if wanted have a demo day every few months where entrepreneurs could pitch early stage investors but I don’t see it necessary. If they are building something that solves a real problem in a usable way, finding investment need not be a dog and pony show.

Seed to Stay

Looking to local early stage venture capital funds and angel groups, those ventures deemed market viable by each individual investment entity will receive enough capital to incubate the start-up out in Detroit for 6-12 months. In most cases, these are going to be relatively nominal investments in the 100 – 200k range.
If an investment fund were focused on investing locally and so inclined, they could model an investment vehicle after the Start Fund. A mechanism first established by uber-angel investor Yuri Milner in where 150K convertible notes were and continue to be given to each accepted start-up into the Y-Combinator accelerator program. Mr. Milner wisely sees that particular start-up shop a filter for his investments. Your city is of course not an incubator so this arrangement with an investment firm, should there be one, would be specific to those companies they deem viable. If you wanted to do it, I would pitch it as a “First Look” deal like television studios have with independent producers. The twist here, and as it happens it is already being done in your own cities start-up accelerator, is adding a residency clause to those companies you seed.
In returning for being the first investors, along with all the other standard fare like right of first refusal and discount share options, your seed round will require the new company to stay and build in Detroit.
Regional economic and workforce development right on your doorstep.

If it seems as though I am overly simplifying the process, you have likely been too long mired in bureaucracy or are accustom to building industrial age businesses. Three hundred page reports and exploratory committees a thriving economy does not build. As it stands, I fear that Detroit flush with tax breaks and subsidies sits mostly in the cross hairs of those that tinker with the boom and bust economy the average Joe now knows all too well. If nothing else, Detroit, rooted in the can-do spirit of factory workers and fisherman, steel workers and small business owners, has the perfect sort of ethic in place to drive the next generation of start-ups out into the world.

If you want to reach out, email me here and follow me here. A big thank you to @HayleyBierkle for first showing me around Detroit and for helping me with drafts of this article. Your city would hard pressed to find a more brilliant and fervent advocate so be sure to say hello to her on Twitter and should you run into her down at Cliff Bells.

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry or on Facebook.

Watch what they do, not what they say

Before starting Digital Intent, my two partners and I were trying to build an “e-Harmony for jobs” at a startup in town. We put a beta put together in six weeks which allowed candidates to complete a profile and be matched with employers using an algorithm combining education, experience and skills, as well as a proprietary competency and culture model.

In our customer development interviews, employers told us that culture fit was at least as important, if not more important, than someone’s skillset and experience. This went against our initial hypotheses and our gut was screaming that this was wrong, but the feedback was consistent and overwhelming.

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A Look Forward from 1999: Turning Google into a $2 Trillion Company

This is a guest post written by Abie Katz.

The following is heavily inspired by Charlie Munger’s talk, Turning $2 Million into $2 Trillion, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

It is early 1999 in Palo Alto and your two friends Larry and Sergey are complaining to you how they want to go back to conducting academic research but this new project of theirs, Google, is taking up a lot of their time. They sound enthusiastic that they might be able to make half a million dollars each and improve the search results for the potential acquirer but more than anything, they don’t want to be bothered with having to run a company.

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Art vs Product: The creativity motivation spectrum

Left, Zuerst die Füsse, a work of art. Center, Apple's iPhone 4, a artful product. Right, Monavie, an Acai juice MLM scheme.

Right now I’m in a weird state of my career development. I’m not riding a rocket of momentum as I have in past ventures, but instead am finding myself evaluating opportunities and work with a more measured approach. I’ve got an idea of what I’d like to do for my next startup, specifically dealing with video production, but I don’t think the ecosystem is ready. That means I’m taking some time to be an artist, rather than a producer.

Artist and Producer are two terms I’ve thought of in my head to describe a spectrum of motivation. Artists create because they have to— meaning they have some idea in their soul which they have to get out and show the world. Producers (product people), on the other hand, create something they think the world wants to have right now.
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Open forum: Who are you, anyway?


So Paul is out for a few days… the guy just made the big leap and got married. Rather than leave this space blank, I’m going to step in to rock the mic.

Just out of curiosity sake, I’d love it if you’d jump in the comments of this post and leave a comment with who you are, what you’re working on, why you read The Startup Foundry, and any other info you think we should know. We know you’re out there, so we might as well start talking one-to-another.

I’ll go first… check the comments.

Hopelessly perfect: Why it’s smart to work at a no-shot startup


Think about the promise of the Valley. Rampant hiring. Early-stage capital freely flowing to countless companies. Catered lunches and dinners. Worthy engineers treated like royalty (or worse, ninja / pirate / rockstars).

While some companies do fit the Valley pipe-dream, we think there are many more startups who don’t have a shot at VCs, the top engineers in the world, or an ice cube’s chance in Hell at realizing those paper stock options. And guess what: We think it’s still a smart idea to work with them. We call them the no-shot startup, and it can be an invaluable experience, just as long as you know what to expect and when to quit.

Hopeful startups

The startup lifestyle happened a bit backward for me. I accidentally worked for a successful and notable startup first, then started loving the startup lifestyle a few years later.
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Solution Zero – Don’t Over Think Your Startup

This is a guest post written by Jason Lorimer. Jason builds things on the internet and writes about post-internet market opportunities and those who squander them. Check him out on his blog.

 

“Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.” – Peter Drucker

I get asked from time to time what I believe makes someone an entrepreneur and invariably I respond by saying that an entrepreneur is someone who sees a problem and says:

I can fix that.
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No Better Money Spent Than on a Domain Name – The Coupons.com Story


In today’s Internet-based world, naming your new business and selecting a domain name can have a huge impact – and may help lead to a billion dollar valuation down the road. A few days ago, Steven Boal, CEO of the hugely successful Coupons.com, sat down for a rare video interview with DomainSherpa to talk about his company’s experience with domain names.

On June 8th, Coupons.com announced a $200 million investment that valued the company at $1 billion. Not a bad payoff for low “seven figure” investment in the domain name just 11 years earlier.
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