Julian Nast-Kolb, co-founder and CEO of Cliniserve, on the importance of sales in a startup and why experienced sales reps often have problems selling startup products.
Sales in a startup company is really unique, yet at the same time, a very dynamic department. It differs from sales in a larger, more established company in that it’s ever-changing, evolving, and adapting every day. It’s not a single stagnant product that is being sold - it’s a future that is being sold. And what makes it so special is that sales calls are really what shape the direction of the product.
Julian is co-founder and CEO of Cliniserve and is also responsible for all of Cliniserve’s sales efforts. Since the time the company was founded, he has had many sales talks with potential customers and was able to learn a lot about sales by actually doing it. In this short interview, Julian shares some insights and advice on sales in a startup company.
You founded Cliniserve over 2 years ago - Do you still get nervous during sales calls?
I wouldn’t say nervous as I’ve been through the most possible outcomes and have my standard procedures and responses. However, it always takes some resolve to get started and fall back into “sales mode”.
What do you think the main difference between sales in an established company and sales in a startup is?
There are no set products yet in the early stages of startups - that means it’s even more important to listen to customers and to adapt to what they are telling you.
That’s also why more senior sales experts often have problems selling startup products - there is no recipe yet. For us, every sales call is an opportunity to learn from our customers and to improve our focus and products.
As a founder - do you get offended when a potential customer refuses to buy your product?
Absolutely not! If a customer doesn’t like our product yet, there are many reasons for that - it’s up to us to find answers to those objections. And in the end, some are structural, due to internal issues of the customers, things you can’t change anyway.
It’s up to us startups to win customers - you can’t force anyone.
What piece of advice would you give to other founders who just started in sales?
Try to get structure into your approach. That way, you can immediately start testing which arguments and questions work best and what triggers your customers. You can then refine your approach.
But, as said before: The most important thing is to listen and learn from every call.
What benefits do you think Ciara offers young businesses?
Ciara helps by providing that structure. And, importantly, it really helps with onboarding freelancers, students or employees that help in sales - after all, it shouldn’t only be one founder working on sales. Lastly, I really like the integrations - we use Hubspot and the integration saves us a lot of time and ensures that every call is documented in the system.
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Cliniserve is developing solutions for the relief of nurses in their daily routines as well as the improvement of staff allocation. This way, nurses can spend more time on the actual nursing work with patients.