You’re reading an excerpt of Founding Sales: The Early-Stage Go-To-Market Handbook, a book by Pete Kazanjy. The most in-depth, tactical handbook ever written for early-stage B2B sales, it distills early sales first principles and teaches the skills required, from being a founder selling to being an early salesperson and a sales leader. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

The decision to sell a solution in person, face-to-face with the decision-maker in a conference room, or over the phone with presentation and screen-sharing software is typically based on the complexity of the solution crossed with average deal size.

The number of meetings that you can have in person in a given day is far lower than the number of digital presentations you can do, just by virtue of transit times. A field sales rep getting two in-person presentations done in a day is pretty good, and three would be really pushing it. An inside sales rep who presents via phone and screen share, on the other hand, could easily do five or six 45-minute presentations a day and still have ample time for follow-up and pipeline maintenance.

Given that revenue is simply the number of opportunities attacked multiplied by your win rate (what proportion of opportunities result in a sale) multiplied by the average deal size, generally speaking, more opportunities attacked is a good thing. But that is often balanced by the higher win rate you can see from face-to-face interaction, as well as the increased comprehension, believability, and trust that it engenders. Also, some solutions are so involved and mission-critical that in-person is really the only way to go about it.

So for now, to begin with—and regardless of what you think the optimal approach to selling your solution would be at scale—it’s pretty much always going to be better to sell in person. Even if that means only one or two meetings a day to start, don’t worry about it. The increased fidelity of communication, the increased insights you’ll get from a lively face-to-face exchange, and the increased trust engendered will overwhelm the efficiency gained by digital presentation. This is why when we talked about prospecting early customers, we focused on those in your geographical vicinity.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t present to qualified accounts that you’re unable to reach in person. If an amazing opportunity shows up in your inbound demo request form, by all means, engage that opportunity digitally (no, don’t fly there, necessarily) as you would any qualified opportunity. It simply means that from a prioritization standpoint, you should be targeting accounts close to home, to enjoy the benefits of on-site presentation.

On the topic of travel, while you’ll generally want to stay local or use digital presentation tools, there may be situations, likely after you’ve booked your first few customers, where it makes sense to fly to a prospect’s location and execute an on-site sales presentation. This is usually best done in batches, so if you’re traveling somewhere, line up meetings with other prime targets in the city in question. Typically, these meetings become an initial opportunity to put a face to a name, and incremental presentations and meetings happen digitally, building off the comprehension and trust built in that first face-to-face exercise.

Later on, when you get to scale, it may be totally appropriate for all of your sales to be done inside, via telepresence. Once you’ve nailed your pitch and materials—and you’re sure your team can do an amazing job of communicating value, backed by ROI studies and existing customers that make those claims believable—you can take advantage of the efficiency of digitally hosting five, six, or more meetings a day. Or, it may turn out that your solution is sufficiently complex, with a sufficiently high price tag, that most sales will be done on-site. Or you may have a blend, where smaller customers are addressed via telepresence, in light of their lower deal sizes, while larger customers, with larger potential sales, are handled on-site. But to start, aim for pitching on-site.

Pre-Call Planning

Did you know your presentation starts before you even get on the call or show up at the prospect’s office? Just as professional athletes use scouting reports and watch previous game recordings to maximize their performance on game day, the best sales staff rigorously prep for their demos and presentations to ensure they make the most out of them.

If you consider the time and energy that went into putting the demo in question on the calendar, you might think, “How could you not prep for something like that?” Well, you’d be shocked by the preparation laziness demonstrated by a lot of sales staff. Don’t be that person. You or your market development rep helper spent hundreds of dollars of salary expense to get this demo on the calendar. Don’t set that work on fire. Further, this is about raising your win rate and making the most of this opportunity. What’s your average contract value? ~$20K? If proper preparation can raise your win rate from 15% to 25%, well, you just made ~$2K with 15 minutes of preparatory work. Pre-call planning is not optional.

Note that presentation preparation is not the same as prepping for cold calling—which is usually a waste of time. Because connect rates on cold calls are fairly low, spending five minutes to get all the context about an account into your head before you dial means that you’re just reducing the number of calls that you can make, for no particular benefit. However, because hold rates on demos should be 80% or higher, you know there’s at least an 80% chance you’re going to be having a serious commercial conversation that could result in ~$20K (or whatever your ACV is). It’s worth the time investment.

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