I interviewed Rob Neivert, Venture Partner at 500 Startups, about how to close enterprise sales. Rob has made over 70 seed-stage investments with a focus on B2B startups. He has founded or worked in eight startups (twice as CEO), led sales workshops for hundreds of companies, and has two degrees in science and engineering from Stanford. We drilled into Rob’s four-stage sales framework: Research, Engagement, Demonstration, and Closing.
[1:43] When Rob’s four-stage sales framework applies.
[2:31] What should you learn about the potential customer?
[4:00] How to collect a prospect’s KPIs and use it to get initial meetings.
[5:13] Sales intelligence tools you can use for research.
[5:19] Should you cold-call?
[6:28] How to use cold-calling to collect information.
[7:06] Best cold-calling or emailing strategies.
[8:05] Which seniority level should you contact first?
[9:25] Creating an “internal champion” to become your insider and help you win deals.
[10:30] How do you generate inbound leads?
[11:20] Marketing automation tools.
[11:27] What questions you should ask once a lead engages you?
[13:22] Engaging leads properly; Ask questions, listen, and respond.
[15:30] Why you should wait to demonstrate your product.
[16:33] How to start your demo, and what to avoid.
[17:15] Examples of quick wins.
[18:14] How showing features during a demo can solve problems
[19:58] Nine ways to optimize your demo.
[21:46] When do you switch from pitching to the final stage of closing?
[22:35] How do you negotiate for the pricing you want?
[23:48] What do you do when a sales process stalls?
[24:20] What is a drip campaign?
[25:27] What Rob avoids while pushing a sale.
[26:20] How much of the process should be done by founders vs. dedicated salespeople?
[28:18] What actions to take after a sale has closed.
Key Points About Enterprise Sales
- Use the acronyms and language of your customers — they will identify you as someone who has expertise.
- Know your prospect’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- The first three sentences are key when you’re cold-calling or emailing.
- While cold-calling or emailing, the best strategy is to offer credible, customized value upfront. Giving instead of selling.
- Contacting junior level people can help you create “internal champions”.
- Ask your lead specific, genuine questions and frame them with industry standards.
- Optimize your demo: Prepare for tech failures, read your audience, dress to the prospect’s culture, customize design, summarize past discussion, consider light humor, and admit what you don’t know.
- Contracts that terminate by default can set clear expectations, motivate eager salespeople, and make terminations smoother.