Sales Strategies & Playbooks of Top Entrepreneurs

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Have you ever heard the saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish?” This couldn’t be more true in the business world. And for growth-stage and startup businesses, a solid sales approach is of the utmost importance. The right sales strategy and processes build the foundation for long-term business success.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, Dominik Richter, founder of Hello Fresh, and Michael Broukhim, founder of FabFitFun, are all entrepreneurs who know what it takes to build a successful company from the ground floor up. We’ve analyzed their sales playbooks and uncovered some of their secrets to success. Here are some of their top sales strategies:

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook:

Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard. Originally called TheFacebook, its initial membership was limited to Harvard college students. Facebook later expanded usership to college students in the Boston area. In the 15 years since Facebook’s launch, Mark Zuckerberg and his team have scaled the social network to host a whopping 2.41 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg’s famous mantra, “move fast and break things” is well known for disrupting go-to-market and sales strategies. Here are several of Zuckerberg’s keys to success:

Hire good people: Zuckerberg acknowledges that good companies hire great employees. He believes you should always hire people you’d want to work for.

Believe in your product: Facebook’s News Feed, the feature that enables users to view the updates of their friends’ activities, wasn’t originally accepted when it was released in 2006. Zuckerberg recollects, “there were a lot of people who were voicing concerns about it.” Although the criticism was initially staggering, Facebook’s engagement rates increased exponentially in the months after the News Feed feature was rolled out. Having confidence in your product is a critical tool sales professionals need to educate customers of key value propositions.

Test and test again: Zuckerberg’s team uses data to guide almost every decision they make. This commitment allows them to build enhanced experiences that users resonate with. In fact, on some days Facebook runs as many as 10,000 versions of their social media network to measure how users are interacting with the site, and also, how much ad revenue is being generated.

Design an innovative culture: When speaking of Facebook’s shift into the mobile space, Zuckerberg said, “We got off to a bad start. Our initial impulse was to try to make mobile more like the thing that we knew, which was the web.” Having an innovative-driven culture enables them to change strategy and continuously move the platform forward.

Dominik Richter, founder of Hello Fresh

HelloFresh is a weekly meal delivery service that ships step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients to customers, empowering them to cook appetizing homemade dinners, faster. Operating a subscription-based service, Hello Fresh has more than two million active customers across Europe, the United States, and Australia. The company was founded in 2011 by Dominik Richter and Thomas Griesel in Berlin, German. Since then, Hello Fresh has expanded its business to reach over $1 billion dollars in sales annually. Here are a few tactics from Richter’s sales playbook:

Use data to make informed business decisions: Richter’s team uses data to determine Hello Fresh’s ideal buyers, on-the-go families. From there, they are better equipped to run impactful marketing campaigns to engage with their target audience. Data also provides sights that Hello Fresh uses to improve its recipes and expand its product offerings.

Make products accessible and easy to use: Hello Fresh offers its meal delivery box through a variety of online and mobile platforms, allowing customers to independently manage their subscription.

Wow customers with quality products: Hello Fresh places huge importance on sourcing quality ingredients from sustainable suppliers. Customers can also choose from a variety of recipes catered to individual tastes and dietary requirements.

Price competitively: Competitive pricing enables Hello Fresh to compete with other subscription meal services and grocery store chains.

Michael Broukhim, founder of FabFitFun

Michael Broukhim, Daniel Broukhim, and Katie Rosen Kitchens founded FabFitFun in 2010. What originally launched as a lifestyle blog and newsletter, expanded into a subscription box service in 2013. FabFitFun customers receive lifestyle and beauty boxes four times per year, once per season: winter, spring, summer, and fall. The products included in the boxes are beauty, fashion, fitness, wellness, household and technology. Here are a few sales strategies that have attributed to FabFitFun’s 300% year over year growth rate:

Know your ideal buyer: Understanding the needs of your target audiences enables businesses to create better products and customer experiences geared towards their needs. Market research should guide the products and solutions businesses offer. It will also enable a company to reach their target audiences at the right place and time.

Build meaningful relationships: FabFitFun uses influencer marketing and face-to-face sales to put a face to their brand.

Word-of-mouth can make or break your business: People are much more likely to share negative experiences than positive. Richter understands that one negative customer experience can spread like rapid-fire online. For instance, he’s studied subscription-based services that have a complicated canceling process. Those mistakes served as a lesson for FabFitFun’s cancel process.

Have a data-driven mentality: FabFitFun employs a data-driven mentality to make better business decisions. They’re able to determine customer acquisition strategies and channels.

Playbook Guide Sales Success

The harsh reality is that only 50% of startup companies survive past 5 years according to the small business administration. The most successful entrepreneurs have processes and strategies in place that help them avoid costly mistakes and create long-term success for their business.

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