I have done the ground work for a new business; created the website, marketing collateral, business plan, pricing and market research. I am at a point where I need someone to market and sell for me.
I have a full time job and a family to support, so I cannot jump ship yet. I don't know how to get this last step started. What is the best approach to do this? Are Elance and Odesk good options? Thanks!
If you're an entrepreneur starting out, you CANNOT outsource sales and marketing. If you are not able to sell your own product, the business that YOU created, no one else will. Furthermore, if you haven't even tried selling yourself, how do you even begin to understand what the characteristics of the right sales people for the job are to make sure you hire the right people? You mentioned you had a full-time job and can't jump in yet because of financial reasons. That doesn't mean that you can't start selling your product, understanding why your customers are interested or not interested between the hours of 5PM to 9PM. Or 9PM to 2AM. Having a full-time job is not an excuse to outsource sales and marketing.
This is a complex question, if you haven't realized. I'm assuming you must already have certain goals you want to measure you're success rate by, possibly some market analysis to compare your goals versus existing competitors. Based on these qualitative and quantitative factors would you decide what is the best approach for your finances, bottom line, industry, product and pricing.
Does your product allow for commission markup or would have to cut it as expense?
Does your product need a sales person/demos? Or would it be better to push through traditional print marketing, social media and SEO?
Those are just some thoughts if you really want to be as efficient as possible running your business well from the start.
One example though:
What i have done in the past with moderate success is use craigslist to post job offerings to contractors. Interview them by phone call and Skype, don't offer marketing assets until their 1,2, or 3rd sale depending on what you are selling, for us is web design and digital marketing services. Then offer them 1099 payment, offer them business card if needed and other marketing assets such as email or dedicated link.
Your product might not need a sales person at all, some products rarely do but yours might be one - you didn't mention.
I hope that helps you a bit, if you have any further questions or want guidance please do give me a call I don't let down.
Sales is one of the most under-estimated and at the same time most challenging parts for tech startups.
Before you start with outsourcing your sales, you may want to do a "customer profiling".
I mean, what type of sales are you into?
Are you a SaaS business, which mainly aims for repeat orders and customer success?
Or maybe are you in the B2C sector, where the aim is an AIDA sale (Attention Interest Decision Action)?
Are you selling locally or internationally?
Elance and oDesk (now merged into Upwork) are good resources for you. You should be able to find enough candidates with experience. But again, I'd think again who am I targeting before hiring on Upwork.
If you are selling locally, maybe the best option is to hire locally.
If you provide a bit more info on your business and what you are selling I can help with more extensive advice.
Of course, we can schedule a call if you wish more direct and effective consulting.
If you are really serious about outsourcing sales and marketing bit, don't go for freelancer. I have had a bad experience working with them but then again all the fingers are not same.
But I would definitely look for reputed organization locally based to get the expected ROI.
I think you need to do a couple sales by yourself before thinking about outsourcing the work. Let's take a hypothetical example: you hire someone, she goes out and tries to sell your solution but fails. She gets back to you saying that your product isn't any good. How will you know whether that's the truth or whether she was a bad sales person to begin with?
This is why I would strongly advise you to try and close some sales by yourself first. In addition to this, going through this process will help you refine your marketing & sales messages and make sure they fit your target audience. This is invaluable feedback that you probably want to get first hand.
As for finding the time to do it, I'd suggest doing it in the evenings, or maybe taking unpaid holidays from time to time in order to work on your project.
You can use Upwork, but the problem is that you'll receive 50-100 replies from all over the world. And it will be hard to select a subcontractor.
When choosing an agency or a single sales/marketing manager (it can be an individual freelancer) note the following:
● Decide what kind of marketing channel you plan to choose (talk to a couple of agencies and sales experts to understand what kind of activity will work in your particular case).
● Each agency (the same with freelancers) is good in some particular narrow strategy. For example, my agency works with B2B social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, MeetUp) and email channels. We don't work with other strategies, like SEO or PPC. So, when you know which strategy works in your case, it would be easier to select a subcontractor or find a right employee;
● Don't try to recruit people for a % on a deal. Nobody wants to test your unknown business model, people would work more eager if you pay for some interim results, or quantitative work (i.e. getting a negotiation, or getting a contract signed);
● Test the agency on small amount of work, let's say, order one week and see results, or order one piece of result and see if it works. Again, it is better to spend some money and pay a reduced cost for this work. But in some cases people may agree to do it for free.
Doing this would likely be a HUGE red flag to prospective investors. It would paint the picture of a founder who either doesn't care, is too lazy or lacks to the confidence to do it himself, as all founders do with their early stage companies.