Who dares sells – SELR8R programme aims to boost start-ups’ bottom lines

3 Dec 2012

Investment firm SOSventures has partnered with Cork-based Intercall to create the SELR8R accelerator programme that will take 10 start-up companies (up to 25 people) and help them to sell globally within 50 days.

The accelerator programme in the tradition of China Accelerator and HAXLR8R will help 10 early stage companies that have ready-to-market products and school them in the vital art of selling.

It is an important point – many believe the start-up journey consists of creating a great product and then conquering the world. Then you’re done.

SOSventures’ Alan Clayton warns that the reality of successful companies is somewhat different because sales is in the DNA and selling is a constant – in other words, success is a journey, not a destination.

The SELR8R programme will take place over 50 days in the new year and Clayton explained that the companies will be selling their products to the world from day one.

The programme will utilise InterCall’s call centre in Cork to make 24 x 7 outbound sales call to get a product to the point that it is revenue positive.

InterCall, which was founded by Jim McCoy and is Ireland’s only Vodafone Gold Partner outsourced sales operation, employs up to 150 people in Cork.

The art of the sale

“The whole programme is designed to take a group of companies with a product with international sales potential and help them to get sales to mushroom, as opposed to the slow journey that most companies experience.”

Clayton says that in Ireland there is a reluctance to embrace the act of selling, whereas in most other countries people expect to be sold to.

I point out to him that this is ironic when you see Irish executives in markets outside of Ireland selling for their lives and nailing it.

“The key is being up front about what you’re offering and how much it will cost. I’ve lived here 16 years and probably in the UK it is much more accepted.

“That said, there are similarities between the Irish and the Chinese in that people in Ireland value relationships, so it is less about the quick sell. Ireland is a small country – for most people on the planet there are six degrees of separation, for Irish people it’s one and a half.

“This programme isn’t about Ireland specifically, it’s about selling to the world. We’re going to take company founders and help them conquer the fear of selling and whether it’s a small product or a complicated enterprise product, get them to understand the essence of engagement.”

Go forth and conquer

Each company on the programme will be offered around 2,000 outbound calls from InterCall, as well a workspace, and during the course of the accelerator will continue to run their businesses and accelerate sales.

Clayton says Irish firms across the board, whether they are in traditional sectors or advanced science or technology markets, cannot survive simply by selling within Ireland.

“A business could have potentially 5,000 customers in Ireland, but they could have 4m overseas if they went about it the right way. We hope that by embracing this results-driven process we can help 10 start-ups get their sales to mushroom.”

He says existing firms may also apply for the programme.

“Many could be global businesses by now but may not have put the effort into it. We hope to change that for them,” Clayton said.

The closing data for applications to the SELR8R programme is 20 December. Successful companies will be selected by the first week of January and the 50-day programme will kick off in mid-February.

Disclosure: SOSventures is also an investor in Silicon Republic

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years