Building a B2B Startup? Here are 5 of the Most Crucial Lessons I’ve Learned

I hope my previous post got you more interested in taking a longer look at building a Business-to-Business (B2B) startup. If you're interested in plunging into one, here are 5 of the most crucial lessons I've garnered in building B2B's for almost one decade now (Can't believe it!): 1) Doing Lean Startup? You cannot use a traditional "MVP" If you aren't familiar with Lean Startup Methodology, then please buy Eric's book as soon as you finish this post. Essentially, the book says that you have to validate your assumptions about the product and the market systematically before you spend money on building. Specifically, it suggest building a "minimum viable product." This is … [Read more...]

Why Sales Isn’t Always King (when to say no to sales)

Our Brief Fling With Payroll More than a few years ago, when STORM was finding out first hand that we still needed to educate the market about flexible benefits, we were scrambling on ways on how to generate more sales. I had an idea. "Let's offer payroll!" My several justifications were many: to be known as both a compensation AND benefits services company, "payroll wasn't rocket science", and the idea that we could just use the current system we developed internally to run it. Because there were many competitors, we couldn't put quite a big enough margin per sale. So I figured, we could make up for it with a bit of volume. Our minimum price was around P15-20K per month for a … [Read more...]

What is PITCHCRAFT and why you NEED to attend it

In my 10 years of HR work prior to becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur, I did an awful lot of presentations and gave a ton of job offers. I thought I was pretty good doing these things, so when I made my leap into entrepreneurship, I thought to myself: "Hey whatever 'selling' I would need to do for my startup I can probably do preeetty well!" Well, I was in for a rude awakening. Pitching is Everything in Entrepreneurship It turns out, selling (or pitching in startup parlance) is absolutely critical in startup development. ALL the major activities in doing a startup involved pitching: Finding Co-founders: Yep, you have to present something  very convincing to get them to say yes. I had … [Read more...]

Danny Moynihan’s Brilliant Open Coffee Moment

It was around 11:30 am. I just closed the main pitching activity at the recently-held JGL Open Coffee activity and told everyone to gather at the hallway of 47 East to take a quick group pic. And so we did. After that, I told everyone it was free time. You can probably imagine what happens next. Wondrous chaos. People began to just talk with one another. Small groups of 2, 3, and four people began to form. Energy filled the room. And then, incoming senior student Danny Moynihan unassumingly enters the room. He quickly introduced himself to me, and then apologized for being late (he was from the south and got lost). He then asked: "Is the pitching … [Read more...]

Employing The Mach 3 Strategy

I was shaving my head this morning in the shower with my trusty Mach 3. I thought the blades needed changing. I made a mental note to myself to buy a fresh pack of blades - the woefully overpriced ones at the grocery counter. I had been buying these blades for FIFTEEN years already - I had been paying Gillette a small fortune. Funny, because I had never wanted these high-end blades in the first place - I won this Mach 3 way back in the 1998 Christmas party in my first corporate job. Once I got the Mach 3, somehow I just made a habit of buying the blades. I represent recurring revenue for Gillette. They must love me. If your startup idea can operate with a recurring, … [Read more...]

Sales Tips: How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

I'm not a salesman, but I've sold many things. At the age of 11, I sold cellphones at my uncle's telecom store in Makati. When I worked for GK CSI, I sold everything from kamoteng kahoy, talong, and chicharon (no relation to Lapid's :) ). For my first full-time job in the States, I sold consumer banking products. I was exposed to the world of cold calls and sales scripts. My personality wasn't cut out for a "sales" job. Back then, pitching  for me was like pulling teeth. However, a job in sales taught me many things. It taught me how to use assumptive language, and never to make assumptions about a person based on his/her appearance. I also learned how to pitch the sale to ALL … [Read more...]

How To Shut Your Way Up To Sales Success

Back around 2007, I remember being thoroughly underwhelmed by the CEO of a multinational company our startup competed with. Our companies were summoned by a client in a joint meeting to compete for a bid. I distinctly remember telling Pao: "The guy didn't say anything and just wrote down notes. He was so unimpressive." Little did I know that not saying anything and taking down notes were quite strategic in one on one sales, so much so in B2B sales. Stubborn that I was, it took me a year or two to incorporate the same strategies in my own sales meetings. Back then, whenever we did sales pitches, people would always react at how young we were - and this always felt like a hurdle in … [Read more...]

Who Wants To Buy HOPELESS HAPPINESS? (Always Test Your Marketing Materials)

Check this ad along EDSA: So When I first saw that sign, I was confused: wait, why would a company - in health insurance at that -  want to sell hopeless happiness?! Then, upon, closer inspection, I saw what they were trying to accomplish with the shadow and stuff. Since I always pass by that part of Edsa, I'd always ask my co-passengers what they read or saw when they saw this sign. The results would always be: Hopeless Happiness I'm not so sure who did this ad for Medicard, but I don't think the intention for this ad was: When people see this ad, they should immediately think "Hopeless Happiness!" When they closely inspect it though, they should see that Happiness is the … [Read more...]

STARTUP SALES TIP: Generic is geriatric, make it human instead

Everyday, we experience getting bombarded with "above the line" sales pitches: from TV, print and radio. This is mass market/media advertising: a singular ad which hopes to reach millions and convince thousands to buy. Large corporations spend billions on advertising to convince a small percentage of the reached audience to make a purchase. Of course, startups typically have a limited advertising budget, so they have to be sneakier, employing "below-the-line" techniques such email, direct marketing materials, and social networks. Here, the thinking is that we can be more "targeted" with our sales correspondence, because we can go more "direct" to the consumer. You know what, from what … [Read more...]

STARTUP SALES TIP: The Product Itself Is the Best Marketing Tool

A few years ago, I would always pass by Wilson street and then take a right at Jose Abad Santos street to go home. One day, I noticed a new tea place was being constructed along J. Santos. As a huge milk tea fan, I was highly intrigued. I dropped in for a visit as soon as I saw the "OPEN" sign. I was an early adopter. It was the owner herself who was at the counter. I immediately noticed the concept was a bit different from anything being offered locally. This wasn't Struan and Tang, nor was it another Quickly wannabe (delighted it wasn't). They were using fresh tea and there was a clear system: tea bag repository (a wide variety), some sort of a "tea espresso machine", a "topping" … [Read more...]