Announcing a blog series – GTM for startups

I spoke yesterday at Startup Saturday Pune on Go to market (GTM) for Hitech products. Sandeep and Vishwa are two fantastic people who run this forum. Sandeep is a passionate and articulate entrepreneur who runs Acton Biotech while Vishwa is the quiet and meticulous entrepreneur who runs Both of them keep coming up with ideas that I find exciting. This time, they started off several weeks ahead of the event by creating a question bank on an email thread and then on Thus, all the speakers knew exactly what was needed from us and we came prepared. In the end, Vishwa did a rapidfire section where he asked some of the questions that we had not covered. Thus, it was a session where specific problems were addressed. However, given the format and time constraint, I think we didn’t cover as much ground as we could have.

In the blog posts to follow, I’ll attempt to answer some of the questions from the question bank. The idea is to expand on what I said at the event and also to reach a larger audience. I’ll post these to the Headstart Blog as well and will also invite other folks to answer these questions. The questions I’m looking to answer in the next few posts are:

  1. I am a technical person and CTO of my startup. I have no experience in sales and marketing. Where should I begin from ?
  2. How do I get contacts for selling software? I know that in the beginning, I have to go and sell my product, but how do I get contacts? Cold calls?
  3. When shall I decide to go for PR? How much spend is optimal on PR?
  4. My services are not very differentiated (I am typical web services company). How do I get mindshare from my potential customers?
  5. I am a six (twelve?) month old startup and I have been doing mostly been doing things pro bono for large companies/clients. How do I ask them to write a cheque?
  6. Building a client list through personal contacts / references is fine. But this is not a scalable model. This would require your personal expertise all the time. How do you build a sales team then?
  7. Sales Tactics
  • How do you get past the receptionist / gatekeeper?
  • How do you find out who is the decision maker in the target company?
  • You found a contact and wrote a mail to the individual. He/she does not respond back. What do you do?
  • You give them a call. They respond by saying that they are busy this week. Please call after a week/month. What do you do in this case?

Look forward to comments, views and more questions.

Difference between sales at a Startup vs Largeco

Mark Suster has written an absolute gem of a post which highlights the differences between sales at a startup and a large company. Many startups try to “scale up” sales too quickly by making some of the mistakes that Mark points out.

The post reminded me of another gem of a book which talks a lot of the same things through the story of invention of the wheel and selling it.

While the approach to the customer changes as the product and the startup evolves, what does not change is the purchase process and the organisation at the customer’s end. Understanding these can mean the difference between success and failure. More on that in later post.