Summary of “How to Sell”

Talking to users
Featured image is a photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

This is my personal summary/notes from a talk by Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever, Y Combinator alumni

There are some popular myths about sales job where it is considered a high-class job that only gifted people could deliver. In reality, that’s not always true. Some facts that Tyler observed in his experience as a math-guy-turned-into-salesperson:

  • It’s you. Do not rely on people we hire (especially in the future)
  • Founder’s passion and knowledge trumps sales experience
  • Pick a founder to own (focus on) this
  • Talking to users = selling. There are only 2 important tasks in startup: building product and selling (most of the time, by talking to users)

Break down sales process using the sales funnel that consist of four parts: prospecting, conversations, closing and revenue

  1. Prospecting
    • For a startup, it is a process to find “the innovators” (2.5% of the market, Diffusion of innovations, Everett Rogers)
    • Reach as much prospects as possible by: network, conference/events, cold (but personal) emails
  2. Conversations
    • The best salespeople are great listeners
    • Focus on understanding and building a relationship with the users
    • Posses inhumane willingness to follow up
    • Being persistence is helpful as long as you are being respectful
  3. Closing
    • Have an agreement template ready. If you haven’t got one, use free template from Y Combinator
    • Close quickly and move on. Avoid unending agreement revision loop
    • Beware of “one more feature” trap. Most of the time it’s a “pass”. If you really want to build new features for customer, ask them to join/pay first and promise to build them afterward
    • The “money-back guarantee” scheme is usually much better than “free trials”
  4. Revenue

Some other tips:

  • Prioritization: in the early days, optimize for the speed. Do not choose the “bigger” prospects, but the “easy/fast” ones
  • Pricing journey: initially, guess your products/services price then learn incrementally from feedback
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