It’s true that most startups suck on sales. Sure, every startup begins positively with a great product or service. But then the slide… then the truth: sales suck! It happens with 90% of startups.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…

It started well.
You put all of your passion and expertise into your product.
You’re a specialist.
You have talent and drive.
You’ve put in more hours than you want to think about.
You can’t even remember what a work/life balance looks like.
But sales still suck.

It’s frustrating, right?

You know you have something valuable that your customers need, so where are they?
Why can’t they see you? Where are the leads, the new investments or partnerships?
Where is the ROI on your ads and social media spend? Where are the connections you’ve been networking for?

Why do the sales still suck?

Sometimes you ask yourself, “Am I doing the right things?”
There are so many options – it can get confusing.
Other startups seem to be doing better.
It’s easy to get lost and miss something that might be right in front of you.

But you’re open-minded.

You’re realistic and you face the facts as they really are.
If there’s a fix – a sustainable solution you can build on and grow from – you’ll take it. Especially if it can generate more sales with the same (or less) budget.
Especially if it can genuinely demonstrate and strengthen the value of your business.

Whatever stops sales sucking, right?

Whatever saves time and increases profit so you can move forward with confidence.
You don’t need the stress, you just need the knowledge that is going to increase your visibility, your customer base and your potential for growth.

I can share that knowledge – knowledge gained from the experiences of startups worldwide. Below, you will also find my test to find out exactly where your solutions may lie.

The 4 core startup marketing principles

Yes, you know about marketing.
You’ve already done some.
But if sales are still sucking,
you might want to look at the four principles that
have come out of my research –
out of the experience of almost 1500 startups.

The first Startup marketing principle is:

Market research matters

In an ideal world, this step comes before the product, before significant spend, before you bring more people on board and before you start thinking about sales.

Essentially, you need to know if there’s a market for
your product and who is willing to buy it. Is
the market growing and does it have the potential to grow?

Who are your major competitors? What do their products or services look like? What level of success are they enjoying?

How are your customers currently solving their problems without your product? Are they looking for another solution and why would they look at you?

How can you make them care?

Your goal as a business founder and a business growth developer is to understand your market like nobody else does – what it looks like now and what it can look like in the future.

The second startup marketing principle is:

Create value for customers

You’ve put a lot of work into your product and its benefits for the target customer. But value goes far beyond the features and benefits of the product.

It’s about a deeper understanding of the problem to which your product is the solution – the solution your customer is looking for. You have to answer these questions:

– Exactly what painful problem are you solving?
– What is your unique value proposition (what makes your offer irresistible)?

– Is it something that is “nice to have” or “Need it now!”

The aim is to build a compelling customer offer from the very beginning – before investing in real product development. This way, you know how to solve the problems, create value and make your product uniquely essential.

The third startup marketing principle is:

Fail fast in marketing

You are in business to be successful. Failure is not in your vocabulary. But failure in marketing is a question of experimenting, learning, modifying and validating (or rejecting) assumptions. You can test your product and make it perfect for the customer.

It’s harder than it seems.

Why? Not because it’s difficult to do, but because it’s difficult to accept on an emotional level.

The truth is that success in a tech startup requires the mental ability to fail fast. You pay a greater price later if you delay or omit to test in the early stages or in the current business model.

In my global startup research, I met one woman who knew how to fail fast, how to improve results and prepare next to the test. It took her 26 prototypes to discover the right model and make a successful business.

But only after failing 26 times.

Knowing how to fail in marketing and do it fast
really matters. It’s not really failing – it’s learning.

The fourth and last marketing principle is:

Start marketing with a small budget

Most startups think they’ll take care of marketing later – after successful fundraising. They think marketing requires a big budget.

It’s different, of course, if you’ve already discovered a proven marketing strategy. In this case, it will be easy to get the money. But the truth is that essential marketing research or marketing tests can be really inexpensive.

For example, you can spend just €100 on a market test,
get leads from it and better understand customer
behavior. Alternatively, you may discover that this type
of test does not attract leads.

Your target customer is on a journey towards your product. You need to understand that journey from start to finish.

Most startup founders either stop here or spend more money on the same communication. But the process need not stop. Try different channels. It’s just not true that
bigger budgets automatically mean exponentially higher conversion rates.

You need to know where to spend your marketing budget on and which KPIs you need to improve in your marketing funnel.

Of course, you also need to have the marketing
funnel from the start. Investors look at the numbers to check the traction of your product. Customers create those numbers. And those numbers create sales.

When you have a funnel, you know where your customers struggle.
Accordingly, you know what you need to do in areas that need improvement.