Did you know that 70% of new startups today fail within two years? Such a premature death could be easily avoided simply by putting the right tools and skills into use in the field. “They often fail, not because their innovative content isn't valid, but because the young startuppers don't take charge of the need to create a sales network from the beginning. They focus everything on the technological quality and so aren't able to reinvest in the technology. They go mad for the innovative content, but no one is assigned the task of building a solid basis for the business on the market.” These are the words of Danilo Rivalta, Senior Vice President of TAS Group and CEO of The Go To Market Company. The latter was created precisely to resolve the problematic generational gap between the new digital professionals in startups and sales experts, to create “bridges” between their skills and so favour the scalability of such businesses.
Because, essentially, that is where the operational problem with these companies lies. This same issue is the central theme of Lost in Sales, from Virtual Teams to Real Sales, an event organised by The Go To Market and held at the Milan Talent Garden at the end of October. Its aim was to highlight the need to bring together smart people – the technology buffs from these new companies and sales experts with decades of experience – and so aid the development and success of the new digital market. As well as to make Italy more competitive internationally.
Offering avant-garde products and services is an important foundation, but knowing how to ‘sell’ yourself and your products is just as important in the age of the digital market
“In Italy we still don’t have a unicorn startup – one valued at over a million dollars,” says Rivalta. The fact that there is no string of startups in Italy within a specific market sector can be felt and, in terms of innovation in SMEs, things are even worse: “We are really very far behind and, even when we speak about companies making innovative products, often that innovation is lacking in their marketing.” Offering avant-garde products and services is an important foundation, but knowing how to ‘sell’ yourself and your products is just as important in the age of the digital market.
Which is where the two magic words for companies’ success come in: two strategic skills that will become absolutely vital for any company, especially digital ones: social selling and personal branding. They are very simple concepts. The first aims to establish a genuine relationship with the public with in-depth analysis, news and useful information, all of which helps build a relationship of trust. To give an example, social selling is the reason a sports clothing company creates a community of runners on Facebook or shares content that appeals directly to its customer type. In other words, it is an activity that goes further than just sales. The other term, personal branding, has a more tailored approach. It is designed to help professionals (young and old alike) to create a work identity on social media. The idea behind personal branding is to take meticulous care over your online presence, from the topics you can discuss to the type of content you should share.
Which brands have had the most success with this? Definitely names such as “Nike and Lacoste, who set up the world of influencers and who manage to reach out to a young audience,” explains Rivalta. “But also the car manufacturers, like Jaguar, Fiat and Peugeot, who target an audience that uses smartphones to make decisions, as well as online payment services, where the challenge lies in convincing the public your system is secure and easy to use.”
The concepts make sense, but there are few in Italy able to teach these things. Yet social selling and personal branding will create so many jobs in the future
And what of Italian companies? In fact, in terms of digital skills, Italy is behind many other countries. That is especially applicable when referring to the gap in training. “There has been movement in the field of digital marketing, but more specific areas are still receiving little attention,” says the expert. “The concepts make sense, but there are few in Italy able to teach these things. Yet social selling and personal branding will create so many jobs in the future.”
That is why another action The Go To Market Company is taking is to offer specific training in these areas. It will soon begin weekly training plans and there is also a specific event planned for May 2019 which will tackle these issues for the first time. The event’s aim is two-fold: not just to contribute to the training of a larger number of professionals in the market, but also to train a group of experts who can then pass that knowledge on to others, thus allowing digital know-how to spread in all directions.
The Go To Market today helps 1200 senior sales professionals and about 56 companies, most of which are Italian (Pharmap, for example, which focuses on home deliveries of medicine), but some are abroad. The aim is to involve companies with as international an outlook as possible. “Putting them in touch isn't difficult. Startuppers are predisposed to the skills of seniors, excluded from the classic world of work because of age discrimination,” explains Rivalta. “It’s the ‘execution’ that is difficult, because they don’t just have to meet, they also need to reach the company’s objectives – sales – ensuring that their investment generates a return.”
Mentoring of this kind is one of the most challenging aspects – to the nth power – of the future: within The Go To Market and elsewhere. The company has already created a matching algorithm which is in use across Europe. It pairs the needs of startups with the skills of senior experts and helps them meet up – whether virtually or in person. This is followed up with training. But the programmes, Rivalta reassures, are open to everyone, from the big companies to young people hoping to find a specialism. Because despite the many differences and priorities of individuals – today as much as in future (it is worth repeating again) – older and younger generations will succeed in nothing unless they come together, communicate and mutually share their new notions. There is always room for improvement. And the golden rule? “In this field, there’s little theory and lots of practice,” Rivalta concludes. “That’s why it’s good to be informed, but also to get training.”