How your startup can sell to businesses

This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Chris Savage.

After working for ten months on an artists’ job board that had no users and made no money, Chris Savage built a successful company that enjoys recurring monthly income. It was all done by marketing to businesses, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Chris Savage is the founder of Wistia, which provides video marketing tools for businesses.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Identify a target audience that will pay for your product to verify there’s a demand

Chris decided that Wistia should focus on businesses that don’t often use video after entrepreneurs asked him for help and he saw that their businesses had money to spend on video products.

Take Action:
“Date” different kind of customers to find a niche that loves what you make and is happy to pay you well.


2. Learn where your customers spend their time to market to them in those places

Chris found out that his first customer read the Boston Globe and had never heard of Hacker News, which suggested that focusing his marketing on the techies at Hacker News was a mistake.

Take Action:
Ask your customers what publications they read and what conferences they attend.


3. Look at complementary and competing products to get ideas and set prices

Chris realized that Wistia could offer analytics for video like Constant Contact does for email and that $100 a month was a reasonable price.

Take Action:
Look at other products that your customers are likely to buy, see if you could offer related features, and pay attention to your competitors’ pricing.


4. Use analytics to see what part of your sales pitch is effective and what to cut

Chris learned from analytics that only 20% of people watched the crucial part of a video he distributed, and he was able to identify the people who didn’t and direct them to the most important information in the video via email.

Take Action:
Use tools like Google Analytics to see how customers interact with your product pages or marketing videos.


5. Explain how your product adds value in concrete terms to attract more customers

One customer used Wistia to share a sales demo video, and he saved two to three hours a day that he would have spent doing demos in person.

Take Action:
Calculate how much time and money your customers would lose if they didn’t have your product.


Want magic?

Premium Members who are logged in, will auto-magically see the full cheat sheet with all the tactics, right here. (Everyone else sees the first set of tactics.) They also get all of our courses.




6. Start selling even before your product is finished to get customers signed on earlier

Wistia sold an early version of its product that allowed the customer to invite people by email to watch videos even though it didn’t yet support embedding or playlists.

Take Action:
Offer products for sale as soon as they work well enough to provide value, even if they aren’t polished yet.


7. Be upfront about the size of your company to earn more credibility

Wistia’s customers were more understanding when they knew they were dealing with a 12-person organization.

Take Action:
Make sure your website and promotional materials don’t give the impression that your company is larger than it is.


8. Do crazy things for customers (even if they don’t scale) to earn respect

Chris flew to L.A. for a meeting with HBO despite having a $15-per-week food budget.

Take Action:
Take advantage of possible opportunities, including ones that sound wild.


9. Make your product easy to use to get more sales

Chris made Wistia’s product much easier to use after his girlfriend asked where the upload button was.

Take Action:
Ask friends to test your product, and use their feedback to smooth any rough edges.


10. Offer a demo to remove risk for prospects and make them more willing to try it

Wistia allowed first-time website visitors to follow instructions like “pause” and “rewind” while watching a video and then to see a visualization of what they’d just done.

Take Action:
Make a demo available that doesn’t require people to give their names, email addresses, or other sensitive information.


Want to make sure you get results?

Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

Share

  • http://www.facebook.com/glenngutierrez Glenn Gutierrez

    Cool. I like the cheat sheet. 

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Glad to hear it.

    So far the response has been positive.

  • Manny

    Thanks this is of great use Andrew

  • Rob McGlynn

    Andrew, I find this incredibly useful.  I would love to see you continue putting these together.

  • Andrew Page

    Great idea…. I don’t always have time to watch full episodes so this is very convenient.

  • http://www.ShizzleDizzleMagic.com Matthew Jones

    Please, please continue this… Between running my primary business and the app I’m writing on the side I don’t have as much time to be on here as I’d like. This helps. 

  • Rafael Chaves

    Great idea! I recently listened to this interview, and liked it a lot. Still, it was hard for me to remember the main takeaways. This outline helps a lot as a refresher, or even to help me decide whether I want to listen to an interview.

  • http://twitter.com/scottnelsonlive Scott Nelson

    I love the “cheat sheet” idea, Andrew!  Another way to consume the content for those times when I really want to listen to the interview, but just don’t have the time.

    Where are you finding your contract writers to produce the Mixergy “cheat sheets”?

  • -IH

    Hey Andrew — love the cheat sheet idea, but feel like the tactics could go more in-depth and be more thorough. These pointers seem a bit simplistic for entrepreneurs like us who engage with sites like Mixergy and have heard a lot of this before. I guess it’s a fine balance between it being short enough to really be a “cheat sheet”, and in-depth enough so as to not be merely fluffy. Anyhow, honestly, love the concept and would definitely keep it– maybe just refine it. Happy to help your brainstorm more.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    How?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks Rob. What’s useful about it?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    That balance is tough. I’m not sure we nailed it.

    Does anyone have an example of how we could have made one of these more useful or deeper — without bulking up the text?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I hired one person who Ramit Sethi introduced me to and 3 others who I found on Problogger.

    On Problogger I got over 200 applicants. I used the same hiring technique that Noah Kagan taught in the Intern Course. Then Bob Hiler, my mentor, worked with them on the format and is editing their work.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. What’s most useful here? What sucks?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    That’s the ideal use for me.

    I want it to encourage people to listen to the courses and interviews that are right for them. And I want it to save you time.

  • http://twitter.com/chrismilas Chris Milas

    Andrew,
    I really like this. Cheatsheet/checklist. For a long time before I actually marketed my business to big businesses, I had no clue how to do it. Then I stumbled on to Jilly Konrath http://www.sellingtobigcompanies.com/ and subscribed to her newsletter (which is essentially what your doing – a newsletter). I learned so much for FREE that I decided to pay for her course.
    One deal with a big company more than paid for her course.
    I also like the examples underneath the headlines. Maybe add a site/service that can help your readers conquer some of the list items. Example: “Identify a target audience that values your product and will pay for it.”.You should tell your readers how to identify their audience and a tool to do it, maybe polling via http://www.surveymonkey.com/ or telling them to just ask the question to some peeps they know in the industry.”Learn where your customers spend their, time so you can market to them there.”How do I learn something like that? Well, again – they can poll their customers or ask via facebook people they know in the industry. They can even give a $10 starbucks gift card to 10 people in the industry to get their knowledge. Its a tax write off!I also think this is a way that you can have businesses advertise their products through your premium service via these suggestions.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    That’s a good point. I’ve been thinking of asking the writers to include links to relevant services because then I might be able to get those companies to tweet or otherwise promote the post.

    I’ll see how much work it is to add.

  • Dylan Jones

    I’ve actually had an action on my to-do list to create bullets of a few past interviews that are relevant for my business so it’s a huge yes from me, love tactic #2 by the way, blindingly obvious now its mentioned but had completely missed this in my customer surveys.

  • Lars

    Check out Neil Patel’s blog. He has a great balance between scope and depth in his blog posts.

  • http://twitter.com/StuMcLaren Stu McLaren

    Love this idea/concept Andrew because it saves people time.

    One thing I would add is an “actionable question” under each tactic to get the reader thinking how they could apply each tactic to their business.

    For example, let’s take Tactic #10 (Remove Risk):

    How can YOU remove the risk for your customers?  

    Can you provide a sample of your product?  2 minutes of a video?  5 minute audio clip?  Screenshot?

    Can you give them a free demo experience?  Access to a demo account?  Trial account with full features?

    How can you get your customers using your product before buying?

    How can you get your customers experiencing or consuming your product before buying?

    The point in asking the readers these questions is to spark their thinking in the direction of how they can take the tactic and apply it to their business.

    These kinds of questions expand the value of the tactic itself and get the ideas flowing by providing additional stimuli – otherwise it’s easy to get “stuck” on the one example that’s provided.

    Make sense?

    Hopefully the feedback helps because I do love this concept.

    Take care,Stu

  • http://twitter.com/ronhogue Ron Hogue

    Andrew-  You nailed the length. Three sentences per topic is perfect IMHO.

    I’d like to have hyperlinks for more content – like each topic is a mini blog post.  If the first three sentences whet your appetite, click here to get more info.  It might take a user to that point in the video interview or in the transcript.I see this as a Cliff Notes version.  It condenses the best parts of the story to a quick read.  If you want more of the story, read the chapter or the book.You could consider making public summarizes of some Premium content. If users want more, there are links to the Mixergy Premium sales page.  -Ron

  • Martin S.

    I usually love numbered lists, but somehow this one didn’t quite capture my attention. Can’t put a finger on it quite yet. If I find some free time today, I might play around with the text a bit and see if I find something that’ll work better.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Good idea. I just added a question to every tactic.

    Let’s see what the feedback is like on this.

  • Rafael Chaves

    Without re-listening and making an analysis of the interview myself, the highlights you selected seem like a fair representation of what was covered. The style is pretty straightforward/fluff-free, which is good as it preserves well the original ideas. I was looking at some old interviews (2009, maybe 2008?) and noticed you actually used to always have a summary of the interview (even as a video), and I think the more direct, neutral style of the outline you have now is  more useful/valuable.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Yeah. There was a time when I wrote up my notes for each interview.

    I thought it made the interviews more useful, but it took me FOREVER to create and I think the summaries got lost under the videos, so I had to stop doing them.

  • http://twitter.com/carlostobin Carlos Tobin

    Sure, I’ll give you an example. Be sure to pull out, and piece together, the nuggets of information from the interviewees. For instance, I watched you interview the founders of AllFacebook.com, InsideFacebook.com, and TreeHugger.com.  Because of your style, that we all know and love, each of them revealed their revenue, and what they sold the company for.  With these two data points a viewer could quickly determine their revenue multiple. For example, according to your interview, InsideFacebook.com was doing $2M in revenue, and sold for $15M  (1/2 cash, 1/2 stock). Quick math gives it a Revenue Multiple of 7.5X. TreeHugger.com did $1M in revenue, and sold for $10M, a 10x revenue multiple. AllFacebook.com was doing $250,000 in revenue, and sold for “millions”. One can infer that “millions” means ~$2M. Which puts the revenue multiple at ~10x which is a reasonable assumption since it puts it in line with the other two revenue multiples.So one thing you could do is make sure the writer you hire on Elance, is an freelance investigative journalist for the New York Times, or Wall Street Journal, or just somebody like me who really dives into the numbers.

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  • Varma

    this is really powerful this just convinced me to get premium

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I’d go for this.

    Does anyone out there know what articles like this would cost? Any suggestions for where I should hire? (I hired my current writers based on references from Ramit or from Problogger.net’s job board.)

  • http://twitter.com/carlostobin Carlos Tobin

    I’ll do the research for your writer. The writer would only need to write one or two articles.

    In another interview you did, the Yodle founder revealed they did $756k in revenue. Some research showed their valuation was $8.2M at that time. That puts the revenue multiple of that round at ~10.8x. He later revealed his revenue at $3M for a particular year. A little research put the valuation at that round at $48M, a 16x revenue multiple.

    I wrote an answer on the subject:

    http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-most-mind-blowing-revenue-multiples-in-technology-startups

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I’m up for it.

    I’ll email you.

  • Timothy Johnson

    Andrew, really like the cheat sheets. I enjoy the full interviews as well, but the cheat sheets are the icing on the cake. 

    I like to take notes on things, but sometimes Mixergy is in the car or shower with me, so I don’t always take away action points. I was thinking of doing this exact thing on my blog after watching an episode, but now you have done it, kudos.

  • Kas

    Andrew, I understand you’re looking for specifics on how this cheatsheet is useful.
    I actually used to make cheatsheets myself based on your interviews especially with Dane.

    What’s good:
    - Asking a closed question at the end of the tactic to get the entrepreneur to think specifically
    - Breaking down the gist of a 1 hour interview into a 5 minute read 

    What’s not:
    - Really hard to say because I already ‘knew’ these tactics and have been applying them regularly. It’d be worthwhile getting the opinion of people who are new to B2B marketing and sales.

  • Bruce Brodeen

    I was telling Jeremy this is one thing missing that I’d LOVE see so this is a huge, big ‘ole fatty thumbs up!

    Stu’s suggestion below is prime!

    A few small
    things, though: i f you done the work as it’s done here, I’d strongly
    recommend having it output in a nice looking form. (i’m a product guy,
    sorry)

    1. have it print it out in PDF. Why? Because these will be printed out
    by a large majority of folks for reading later. If printed off the
    web page, formatting will be different for everyone and it will just not
    look as optimal as it could. (i’m looking at my print out right now of
    this….it’s just a jumble of black ‘n white. Which IS better than
    nothing as the words do rawk – however……

    this leads to…

    2. Branding – a good looking 2-4 page PDF offers more deeply enriched, embedded branding experience.

    Which leads to…

    3. Reminder of Value Received by Paying Folks – they hold that wonderful
    manfestation of pulped up tree, they are holding a reminder that they
    are getting ‘real’, in the trenches stuff that will help them keep their
    eye on the ball with what matters most.

    Yeah, Yeah – I know…ther eare folks reading this on Ipads ‘n the
    such….but, I swear to you, if they are and moving on…they are doing
    themselves a disservice by reading it off line. A deeper level of
    resonant learning takes place when something is held and read actively
    when off-line.

    It’s an opinion but, at least in my own experience, there is no doubt of
    the worth of good ‘ole fashion paper helping me learn better.

    which brings me, once again, to….

    4. Product! Doing it this way you end up w/ nothing to sell – or don’t
    have the option to do it, if you want to later on. Do the work now,
    profit more now.

    plus….

    5. IT’s the type of product that affliates will love you for…. :-) 

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Okay. You’re convincing me to make it into a PDF. I’ll get a little more feedback on the content and then we’ll add the PDF process to our workflow.

    When you say I’m doing myself a disservice by not doing “it” now, what do you mean? Is the “it” creating PDFs? Or do you mean making it members’ only, instead of publishing it?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I just took a snapshot of your comment to email to our writers. Thanks! Welcome to the inner circle.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks! That’s the way I am too.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    So another vote for the questions after the tactics? Why do you find that helpful?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    It’s an early effort. Let me know what you come up with.

  • Martin S.

    I had some fun with the page: http://img546.imageshack.us/img546/6823/mixergyscrnsht.png

    Maybe it’s me, but getting the tactic right away just makes me want to skip to the next one, so I changed the headlines to something more vague and (hopefully) intriguing.

    Also, story first and lesson afterwards seems more natural to me. After all, fairy tales don’t start with the moral either.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Martin, this is a great suggestion!

    I’ll ask the writers to try it out for a future Cheat Sheet.

    And thanks for the visual. It had much more impact than a description.