4 Reasons Why Startups Struggle in B2B Sales


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In a recent article titled “3 reasons why startups fail at sales”, Jean-Luc Scherer touches upon the lacking sales and selling skills of founders and entrepreneurs as well as the fact that the business accelerators, which are supposed to help startups grow, often fail to accelerate sales. In another article titled “Minimum Viable Product vs Product Market Fit”, it is mentioned that Andreesen Horowitz stated that market matters over everything else.


Four other challenges innovative startups face in B2B sales, which established businesses don't have are:


  1. The product is so new that prospective customers can’t categorize and understand it

  2. The product is still changing by the day

  3. Lack of a repeatable effective sales process and tools

  4. Poor lead generation more than anything else is hindering sales acceleration


1) The product is so new, the customers can’t categorize & understand it


This means that customers do not really know what your product does and what's in it for them. They cannot compare your offering to others', they cannot ask reference customers for advice - as they do not exist yet. This together with the small size and young age of a startup, result in a high risk purchase, requiring non-traditional decision makers, which are usually found higher in the hierarchy: someone who is open for innovations, is willing to take measured risks if the return on investment is promising and who can create or reallocate budgets for this unexpected investment.


Here startups encounter a dillema: they need to find and persuade risk taking decision makers and budget allocators (top-down), but in parallel they need to get the easier to acheive minimal risk buy-in from individual contributors to test your innovation through trials (bottom-up).


The 5 common factors influencing the adoption and