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This is modified from a presentation we give to new sales hires at Carta on how we approach conversations with potential customers. This is our framework.
Our job in sales is to solve our prospect’s problem. That requires us to truly understand what that problem is. The successful reps at Carta diagnose underlying pain points and work with the prospective client, rather than reciting a blanket script about features. Our framework for that initial meeting is broken into four parts plus some prep work. Those 4 parts are as follows:
- Pitch / Story
- Demo (if needed)
- Next Steps or Action Items
Let’s begin with the pre-meeting preparation. Our goal when researching is to anticipate what the prospect may need by looking at history in our CRM, LinkedIn profiles (for not only the people in the meeting, but also those that could be stakeholders), investment history in Pitchbook, and even Googling relevant news. Through this research, we’ll have an idea on how to guide the conversation to better understand the prospect’s business and how we might be helpful.
The conversation is the key to unlocking the information that will help us help the prospect.
We start with easing into with general rapport building with questions like: How are you today? Let’s go around the room for introductions. How can I be helpful? Why did you take the call? Tell me more about your background and what falls on your plate. These types of questions are simple, open-ended, and guide the meeting towards a conversation rather than a presentation.
The conversation will naturally lead to a better understanding of the prospect. We learn more about their role, how they heard about us, and most importantly how they operate today. We do this by asking more questions based on the information provided.
For example, if we learn they use software in their current practices, naturally we can ask things like: What tools do you use? What works well? What doesn’t work as well? Tell me more about X, as it relates to Y. The best salespeople will have a natural conversation that leads to a genuine understanding of the prospect’s business problem and bring to light where we can be helpful.
At a certain point, it’s time for us to explain the Carta value proposition. This is the only part where it may feel like a presentation. Deliver our value prop and tie in what we’ve learned from the conversation. This is the answer to the question: Why Carta?
“We’ve built our reputation as the leader in cap table software, but where we differ from traditional record keeping tools is that at our core we are a transactional platform. Any type of transaction you do that relates to the ownership of the company, you can execute on Carta, from the money movement to the signing of documents.
With all the documentation stored in real time, you don’t have to go through the exercise of updating your cap table again. With this platform, we’ve built a ton of tools and services that require data from the cap table, like our 409A valuation business, financial reporting, and delivering documentation to stakeholders. Now, before I jump into how this works in practice, do you have any questions about how doing the transactions in software make it so you don’t have to continually update records?”
The demo is your supporting evidence to the pitch. We may not always demo in the first meeting. When we do, show what’s relevant to the prospect and always tie what we show on the screen back to the pitch and what we learned in the earlier conversation.
“…you mentioned your current process for an employee to exercise a stock option involves the employee asking questions, preparing and signing the documents, collecting a check, and then updating your records. In Carta, your employee can just click to review the details of the grant and exercise in one workflow…”
Lastly, we never leave a meeting without next steps or action items. Develop and confirm a plan based on the conversation and establish a timeline with the prospect. If we can, we book another meeting. Finally, we send a written summary along with notes from the meeting and the discussed next steps: