Posts Tagged "startup help"

Hint: The answer is not to lower your price.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Ask any entrepreneur what words strike fear into their hearts, and “I can’t afford it” is near the top of the list. This phrase is a huge letdown, especially when you know in your heart you can help a company solve a problem and get the results it wants to hire you for.

Related: The Ability to Sell Will Make or Break Your Company, So Stop Underselling It

When faced with this response, your knee-jerk reaction is likely to lower your price, but to do so would be the wrong move. The reason? “I can’t afford it” is almost always a lie. But, don’t be mad at your prospect for using it.

The truth is, even you’ve used this lie. At some point or another, you told yourself you couldn’t afford something, but then you rationalized, justified and moved money around until you got your hands on what you really wanted, whether it was a nice purse, fabulous shoes or that fancy cheese from the hoity-toity grocery store.

Or you said “I can’t afford it” when someone was trying to sell you something you didn’t want or think he could deliver on. After all, it was easier to tell a little white lie and let you both off the hook than risk hurting his feelings.

Related: Want Higher Response Rates? Start Treating Your Sales Prospects Like People.

In both instances, when you said “I can’t afford it,” you were lying, even if you didn’t have evil intentions. Your prospects are doing the same thing, and understanding this is essential to making more sales, because when someone really, really wants something, she’ll move mountains and find a way to afford it.

Here’s what to do when your prospects say they can’t afford you.

As a business owner, it’s your job to spot when your clients are using the “I can’t afford it” objection as an excuse, so you can respond accordingly.

The first step here is obvious: Listen for this objection.

The second step is harder: Don’t take their words at face value. Sure, sometimes people honestly can’t afford something. Their house is being foreclosed on and their credit cards are maxed out. But, their financial situation is not your business, even if they try to make it so.

The third step is to decode their real objection and respond accordingly. The good news is objections usually boil down to just three options.

Objection 1: “I don’t believe in your services or results.”

If potential clients read every word on your website, spent time on a consult call with you and still says “I can’t afford it,” they’re likely unsure your offer is the right fit for them. Although it’s possible they simply aren’t a good fit for your services, often their disbelief stems from a problem with how you’re describing what you do. It could be that the language you’re using to describe your services is full of jargon and doesn’t connect with your prospect’s true challenges and goals.

Related: Low-Hanging Fruit: Why You Need to Be Selling to Those Dormant Customers

Objection 2: “I don’t believe in you.”

If your language is clearly hitting the mark but the prospects don’t want to commit, it could be that they don’t believe in you. This one can sting, but it’s important to look at how you’re showing up in this interaction. Are you unintentionally projecting energy that puts your client off, such as pushiness, desperation, need for approval or lack of confidence about your offer or your ability to deliver? Your prospects will sense these things, even if they can’t put their finger on it directly, and they won’t want to sign up.

Objection 3: “I don’t believe in myself.”

All humans experience moments of extreme self-doubt, and your prospects are no different. When they think about hiring you to make big changes in their lives, they could be feeling insecure or anxious that they won’t be successful. This inner self-doubt creates an insecurity about their ability to make a good decision about hiring you.

Don’t lower your price. Clarify the value, build trust and offer reassurance.

Now that you’re clear on what your prospects are really trying to tell you when they say, “I can’t afford it,” here’s how to decrease how often you hear it and how to respond when you do.

First, you need to set yourself up for success so you hear this objection less and less. Your job here is to clarify the value of your work. To do that, ensure you’re using the exact same words your prospects are using to define their problems and desired results — not jargon — and write solid offer copy that conveys the benefits of working with you and demonstrates the results you help clients achieve. These two things will inherently justify the cost of your services.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Raising Your Price Is a Brilliant Marketing Move

Second, you need to know how to respond when you hear this objection. You’ll do that by building trust and offering reassurance.

You can build trust with wavering prospects by acknowledging their concern with genuine empathy. Then, get really curious. Ask questions to understand their situation and the results they’re looking for better. Listening closely to their exact words and mirroring them back is simple and highly effective in ensuring people feel heard and understood. The more you seek to understand and serve them — not sell them — the more quickly you’ll cultivate trust.

If your prospect is wavering due to personal insecurities, ask yourself what you can do to offer reassurance. Often, this can be done by offering examples of past client success; other times, prospects will need some coaching to believe in themselves — though there are always individuals who simply aren’t ready to make the transformation your services are designed to facilitate.

Lastly, remember that your job as a business owner is to stand behind your prices, prove the value and stay out of your clients’ wallets. The quicker you understand what you’re in charge of, the faster you’ll close sales and fill your calendar with perfect prospects who are dying to work with you, turning potentially destructive situations into wildly positive and prosperous ones.


Source link

Kate Stillwell, founder and CEO of Jumpstart, a natural disaster insurance startup, built her company back up after a devastating blow.


8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In the Women Entrepreneur series My Worst Moment, female founders provide a firsthand account of the most difficult, gut-wrenching, almost-made-them-give-up experience they had while building their business — and how they recovered.

Jumpstart, which launched on Oct. 2, 2018, is a new type of natural disaster insurance that helps families and individuals bounce back from earthquakes through an immediate payout initiated via text message. Jumpstart connects the insured person to the insurer.

Founder and CEO Kate Stillwell said she believes her company is, at its core, about resilience — ensuring more money comes into the system after natural disasters and creating an upward spiral of recovery. But when natural disasters occur, everyone experiences losses at the same time, so insurers themselves need insurance (“reinsurance”). She tells us about her worst moment, when Jumpstart unexpectedly lost a partnership and up to $100 million was at stake.

What follows is a firsthand account of this person’s experience. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

My worst moment was eight days before Jumpstart’s initial planned launch, about a year ago. We had built up a team of eight people. For 16 months we had worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our reinsurance partner, in preparation to sign the agreement that would authorize us to start selling policies on their behalf (and fund us with six months of runway).

But someone got cold feet, and up to $100 million — the entire pot of money we had in capital reserves to pay out our customers — was at stake.

I was in our office in a coworking space in Oakland, meeting with my team as part of our weekly “sprint.” My phone rang, and since I recognized the number calling was our partner’s account manager, I excused myself and walked into the common space. 

The account manager had been my primary point of contact for the past 16 months, and I could hear that he was close to tears. I remember him saying that he wished he wasn’t the one who had to give me the news but that it had been decided that our two companies were no longer going to be working together. They had called off the partnership.

There was silence for about 10 seconds.

I asked if he could tell me why, and I remember hearing that it was a combination of the high risks and the fact that we were a startup. Eventually, we hung up.

Since Jumpstart pays out in earthquakes, where everyone needs money at once, we need access to a large pool of capital. But a startup doesn’t have millions of dollars in reserve, so we partner with one or more established companies who have deep pockets to make the payouts. There’s a David and a Goliath dynamic; we’re mutually dependent. The product can only be sold if we cooperate. The difference is, for “David” (us), this is the only product: cooperation is life or death. For the “Goliath” (the partner), this is one of many products — they have other income streams.

In my previous startup, we had a great partnership with this particular Goliath, so against the number-one piece of advice from almost everyone in the industry, I had agreed to be exclusive. That was my first mistake — let’s call it an error of optimism. Another of my mistakes? I took at face value a claim that the partner would make us an investment worth several months of runway. I should have raised funds sooner from other sources.

I felt blindsided, but that’s only because I was wearing rose-colored blinders. I should have seen the signs — months of delays, creating new hurdles each time we cleared the last one, the right hand not talking to the left hand, reasons that didn’t quite add up.

I returned to the team and pretended like nothing had happened because they were still in the middle of the meeting. That day it was my turn to drive the carpool of kids home from school, so I picked them up and then texted my mother about what had happened. I was very withdrawn. I remember that my mother gave me what I wanted to hear — “You don’t deserve that!” — while my husband had a different mindset: “Well, you knew this could happen.”

Without the authority to sell, we couldn’t launch — and we were at negative runway. The day after I got the call, I had to break the news to eight different people on the team individually.  

One of my teammates was leaving the next day to settle her late mother’s estate. I asked if I could drive her to the airport in the morning. She knew something was up. On the way, I remember telling her how sorry I was but that we’d have to let her go. We’d both known going into it that working for a startup is risky, but it was hard because we’d just hired her about six weeks before, and it was her first job after a career change.  

I went back to the office and met with our main developer, who was a contractor, and told him the bad news. I remember saying, “We have no more money. The launch is now many months, if not years, away. We don’t know what the future of the company is, and I’m going to be laying off everybody else.” He spent the next two to four hours buttoning things up and left. After that, I told another co-worker what happened — and that I didn’t have to lay him off that day, but we were at risk, and I didn’t know exactly what would happen over the next two weeks. I told him it would be a good idea to start looking for other jobs. And that night, I had dinner with another teammate and told her the same thing.

That’s how the team went from eight to six in one day. There we were: no launch, team gone, out of money, no basis of raising money. I was angry, humiliated and just plain sad. But I was still optimistic: We had fallen off the proverbial cliff, but we didn’t die.

The core value proposition of our product — what we’re fundamentally selling — is personal resilience. It’s resources to tap into the inner strength that’s already there and adapt to the new normal after a shock. So, as a company, I thought, we’d better be able to walk that talk.

Five weeks after that initial call, me and two of my remaining teammates — people who knew their jobs would likely be gone soon — took a huge risk. We decided to spend the company’s remaining funds on a flashy publicity stunt at an insurance conference in Las Vegas. We brought a “shake trailer” — which simulates an earthquake — and 400 conference attendees took a ride in it. One of them called it “brilliant marketing” and the “most fun thing” at the conference. About eight months later, his company would end up being our next partner. 

But that was months away. On the afternoon of the conference’s second day, I had to sit down with both team members who had accompanied me. I remember telling them, “I can’t pay you after today. I have to lay you both off.” One of them burst into tears.

It took us over a year to make a comeback, but we survived by the grace of a few industry insiders who provided enough funding to tide us over. I remember them saying, “We know what happened to you, and it sucks. No one should have to go through that. We want to make sure you come out alive.”

From this experience, I learned that there’s no other choice than to be optimistic. Entrepreneurs are creating the future — not just for ourselves but for our communities and our collective children. That’s a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity. Having the courage to be optimistic — in the face of setbacks, in spite of shock — is the test of being a true entrepreneur.

To others going through something similar, my advice is to stay optimistic and make decisions assuming the best. I relied solely on optimism and didn’t have enough of a safety net or plan B, so along with optimism, make a freaking backup plan!


Source link

Should you hire people into more junior roles than their last role? You can, but here are the potential pitfalls to consider.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Our brains have been wired to think about our careers going up the corporate ladder over time. A manager becomes a director, a director becomes a vice president, a vice president becomes a president, etc.

Obviously, there are a lot fewer job positions the further you go up the ladder. A typical company may have 125 managers, 25 directors, five vice presidents and one president. The odds of moving up the ladder aren’t really in your favor, with 80 percent fewer positions at each next level.

But, people need to make a living. What happens when an employee needs to go back down the ladder to find more open positions? Is that a good idea for you as a hiring manager to consider that candidate?

Let’s find out.

Does the candidate have the right skills?

Let’s talk about the sales department as an example. Most “upper ladder” sales managers have been “lower ladder” salespeople at some point in their past careers. It is highly likely and logical that a sales manager has the knowledge and skills required to succeed as a salesperson again but the job of a sales manager is completely different from a salesperson. The salesperson mantains client relationships and closes sales all day. A sales manager manages and mentors the salespersons all day to make sure they are hitting their agreed upon targets. Making that shift back down the ladder really means taking on a completely different job again. You just have to be sure that candidate truly has the appetite for that change.

Related: Why MOD Pizza Loves Hiring Ex-Cons

Is the candidate willing to do the job required?

Continuing this example, once a sales manager gets used to the tasks of being a sales manager (more in the office, less travel, less repetitive tasks, the prestige that comes with the role) it is, for many, really hard to get back into a quota-hitting sales producer role. But, that is a more of a general guidance. There are exceptions to that rule. Maybe a sales manager got promoted, then realized they don’t like managing people — they actually prefer the “thrill of the hunt.” It is really important you ask the right questions during the interview process to ensure that candidate will actually be happy doing the work required in that “lower ladder” position.  Understanding that many will say whatever is required to get the job, so buyer beware.

Does the candidate have the right compensation expectations?

In addition to the role changing, the compensation is typically lower at lower levels. So, let’s say that vice president was making $150,000 and now they are looking at a director level job that makes $80,000. Once a worker gets used to living off a higher salary, it is really hard for them to make ends meet on a much smaller compensation. The only times that works out is if the role is combined with material other incentives (like an aggressive commission plan or equity upside to make up the difference), or if they are further along in their career and, perhaps, are aware of their need to reset their target role and compensation expectation to have a better chance of getting employed.

Related: 3 Signs You Need to Take a Pay Cut

Should you be worried if someone is willing to take a pay cut?

My off-the-cuff answer is yes — someone willing to take a pay cut should certainly trigger a concern but it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. If other incentives are in place, or there is a logical “story” with this candidate, you may be perfectly fine. Remember, what you gain with an “upper ladder” candidate is all that extra years of experience that comes with that. So, if you can get comfortable with the situation, it is like getting a Porsche for the price of a Toyota. But, buyer beware.

Is the candidate a flight risk just waiting for a better position?

Once somebody gets used to getting paid at a certain level, they are going to try to maintain or exceed those levels in future jobs. If they are taking a job with you at half the compensation, without a matching good “story” or incentives, that opens the door to those candidates continuing to look for new jobs, even after they have accepted yours.

Again, that is a general rule of thumb. That may not be the case in all scenarios, so do your due diligence and make a judgment call. For example, someone looking for their last job before they retire could be perfectly fine and worth the risk.

Related: This Is How to Boost Employee Retention With Lifelong Learning

Do they have the energy for job?

Generally, a person’s energy declines with their age. But, that is not always the case. I have worked with many people in their 60’s whose energy levels exceed that of people in their 20’s. Another way to think about this: older “upper ladder” employees are typically more efficient in how they work. They may lack with energy but offset that with efficiencies they have honed with their prior years of experience.

Can a candidate going down the ladder ever be a good hire?

My colleague Todd Zaugg, CEO at Matrix Achievement, told me “Our company has trained over 40,000 salespeople over the years. I have seen many situations where moving down the corporate ladder has resulted in success and many other situations where it has not. In our experience there is no direct correlation between the previous upper ladder experience and  sales success moving back down into lower ladder positions. It all comes down to the individual and do they or don’t have have the right skill sets, desire and incentives to be successful in that lower ladder role”.

A lot of things have to go right for someone going back down the ladder to result in a good outcome for your business. But, that does not mean you should close the door on that scenario in all cases. You need to assess each candidate on their own merits. What is their “story”? How do they answer your questions? Do you believe they can live on a smaller compensation and have the energy and appetite to be successful in that “lower ladder” job?

This situation is laden with potential pitfalls, but it most certainly can work out for the best. Do your homework!


Source link

Copyright © 2014 - 2021 Intellixa | All Rights Reserved
×