Putting the cart before the horse

26Nov09

While I don’t field that many sales inquiries myself, I’ve been on enough calls and read enough emails and chat transcripts to recognize what makes for a good lead. Among other things, the prospect has a need for our products and a budget that enables them to make a purchase. Conversely, there are some attributes that usually send up a red flag with regards to a new inquiry: dubious need for the product, lack of a budget, etc.

Another attribute that screams “not serious” is the lack of a company name. I’m not talking about folks who are buying for personal use or on behalf of a client. I’m referring to people who say “we don’t have a company name or website picked out yet”. To me, this is like putting the cart before the horse. Why would you go out and start talking to vendors or partners before you’ve even settled on a company name? Is getting pricing from them somehow more important than, you know, figuring out what your company is called?

Though it seems like eons ago, I was once in the same position. When our company was just starting out, it was hard getting potential customers, vendors, and other people to take us seriously. And we already had a name, website, and some semblance of a product plan. But it would have been even harder if we tried to talk to people without a company name already picked out.

All else equal, you’ll get more attention from virtually everyone that matters if you look like someone who has a real business going. So my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to go on the hunt for vendors is simple. Before you pick up the phone or start filling out contact forms, do yourself a favor and choose a working name for your company — and put up a simple website if possible. It certainly can’t hurt, and I bet you’ll get a much better reception from potential vendors as a result.



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