BizLab Event Brings Sales Pitch Tips

By Lindsay Ellis
Times Union, Albany, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (Tl;dr) Entrepreneurs gathered in Upstate New York to learn the best sales tactics when running a startup. For many women in business, trying to figure out how to lure a new customer can be daunting. Experts say small business women should always remember to end a meeting with enough time to discuss next steps with a potential client/customer.


Entrepreneurs do not often start a business to go into sales, but sales are a crucial element to a startup’s success, Lorraine Ferguson of Sandler Training said in a talk with Schenectady business owners at the New York BizLab office on State Street on Monday morning.

Ferguson, the president of the Sandler Sales Institute’s Albany franchise location, answered attendee questions and discussed how to assemble a successful sales team in her presentation to about 50 people.

Preparation and setting expectations are crucial to a successful sale, Ferguson said. In a sales conversation, entrepreneurs should make sure that they are talking to someone who can make a decision, and that they end such meetings with time to discuss next steps.

She urged entrepreneurs to focus on the client as they presented their solution to their potential customers’ problems, and she noted that being a salesperson requires convincing someone to make a change — a tough argument when many people tend toward inertia.

Attitude, she said, absolutely plays a role.

“Who wants to work with someone who’s begging?” she asked, saying that, on initial sales runs, she would convince herself that she did not need the sale, even when that was not the case. “That gives you a backbone to ask the tough questions.”

Hiring the right sales team and successfully training sales associates will create a sustainable model, Ferguson said.

Antonio Civitella, president and CEO of Schenectady transportation software firm Transfinder, said his company motivates salespeople by virtually updating a public scorecard throughout the day. Associates can keep tabs on the team’s close rate and the number of calls, said Civitella, who is also the president of the New York Biz Lab.

“We win together, but, man, we lose together, too,” he said at the event. “And that scoreboard tells it all.”

In an interview, Civitella said the board, which has existed in some form since the company’s beginning, helps employees stay enthusiastic and focused on their goals. Constantly re-evaluating the data increases opportunities to improve and change, he said.

About half of Transfinder’s business in the last five years has been displacing competitors, which startups must face every day, he said. Ferguson’s term “deinvest” to describe clients swapping one business for another resonated with Civitella, he said.

“Emotionally and financially, you’re deinvesting in something else — I never saw it that way,” he said. “It’s a great term that I’m looking forward to using.”

Fifty-five people registered for the event, which was targeted to New York BizLab tenants, BizLab Managing Director Rick D’Errico said.

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