Too young? No customers? No product? Spin your so-called disadvantages into selling advantages

by Steli Efti
disadvantage -min

“I have [insert disadvantage]. How could I possibly succeed in B2B sales?”

I can’t tell you how many times sales reps have told me they can’t sell because something is getting in their way. I get it. Sales isn’t always easy. And it can drag you down when you feel there’s something making it even harder just for you.

But there’s a silver lining to everything. And whether you think you’re too young. Your company’s too new and unproven. Or you don’t even have a product to sell. The only thing actually getting in the way of being successful in sales is your mindset.

By changing your mindset and approach towards these so-called disadvantages, you can turn them into huge advantages.

Are you the only person who sees these disadvantages as obstacles?

While it’s perfectly fine to be aware of the problems and unique challenges you face when selling, what’s not OK is to turn them into reasons why you can't accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Before your disadvantages become overwhelming, you need to take a step back and ask yourself a couple of important questions:

  1. Are you the only person or company that has ever had to deal with this problem?
  2. Do your customers care about these disadvantages?

Believe me, the answer to both of those is often going to be “no”.

No, you’re not the only person to deal with the disadvantage you’re facing. And in 99.9% of cases, there are going to be examples of others who have succeeded despite these same disadvantages or ones that are much worse.

And your customers? No, they don’t care about your problems. Customers are only concerned with their problems and if you’re able to help solve them.

So, if you’re not the only one who has this disadvantage and your customers don’t care about them, why let them get in the way?

Every disadvantage has a hidden tactical advantage

It’s easy to say “stop worrying about these disadvantages.” But actually acting on that advice is much harder.

Every disadvantage requires work and time to change. You can’t get older, beat the competition, or launch a new product overnight. But you’re only giving these issues more power by obsessing over them.

Instead, you need to see them as opportunities. Whenever I’m faced with some massive issue, I turn to one of my favorite quotes:

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Every disadvantage is an opportunity to do something drastic. To fight against the current, stand out, and innovate. Here’s how:

“Our startup is too small/I’m too young.”

When you’re young, or your company is tiny, people might have concerns about your credibility and question whether you’re able to deliver. But there’s a flip side to being small that’s actually a huge advantage.

Being small means you can move quickly. You’re innovative. You can take risks and experiment. More than that, if you’re small or young and coming up against more established people, I’m going to assume you punch above your weight. You’ve done something to allow yourself to skip the “traditional” routes. And if you can do that for yourself, I want you to do that for my company.

In business, speed is an advantage. And being smaller or younger tells me you know how to move quickly. I’ve talked more about the “your startup is too small” objection in particular in this post.

“We haven’t proven ourselves yet”

If you think you need customers to get customers, you’re never going to get anywhere. Instead, highlight the opportunity that being unbridled by customers presents.

First, you can make changes, pivot, and customize your product quickly and without friction. So many massive companies have terrible products because they can’t change. It’s too much work and there are too many stakeholders involved, and they’re weighed down by feature creep. But without customers (or with very few), you can change anything from your design to your business model, without issues.

Second, your risk comes with a much higher potential reward. What I mean is that while it will always be a risk to work with an unproven company, there’s a much bigger potential reward of attaching yourself early on to the next huge technology.

Think about the first few local businesses who started using Google AdWords. Was it a disadvantage for them to use an unproven technology? Or was it a massive advantage to be one of the first to use, learn, and optimize for it?

“We don’t have a product yet!”

What if you’re not only unproven, but don’t even have a product to sell? While this might seem like an impossible issue to get past, it’s not. Without a product, you have to reframe what you’re selling. And that’s influence.

With no product or only a very basic version, your potential customers become partners. They get a voice when it comes to product development, what features get made, and even how you address users’ needs. That’s a powerful position for any company to be in.

“I have a strong accent/I have zero industry experience”

Company aside, you might think your current situation or background is a major disadvantage. But whether you’re new to the industry or new to the country, this is only a disadvantage if you let it be.

First, having a strong accent means you stand out. There’s also an unspoken belief that because you’ve overcome the struggle of learning a new language or moving across the world that you’ve got hustle and spirit. While your accent won’t work for everyone (and I should know!) for the right customer it will speak volumes.

And what about lack of experience? Surely, anyone will go with the 30-year industry veteran over you, right? Not exactly. An expert is just someone who has mastered the past—how things used to work. Not necessarily how they should work or how they will work in the future.

As someone who’s new to the industry, you can position yourself as fresh eyes. You don’t have the blind spots and baggage from years of doing things the “usual” way. When everyone’s doing it the way they’ve always done, that means there’s space to disrupt, create, and change.

Having a disadvantage means you have a foot in the door

Instead of obsessing over the issues holding you back, look at the doors your so-called disadvantages are opening. No one gets to number one by following what other people have done. The right customers know that, and that’s why they’re talking to you.

With great risk comes the opportunity for great reward. And if you can communicate your potential while bringing all your energy, innovative ideas, speed, and unique approach, it won’t matter what disadvantages you have.

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