How can a techie startup founder sell his product online? Since hiring costs too much (not suitable in too early stage), then what else?
Great startup founders are obsessed with their businesses.
This obsession leads to deep market understanding and a willingness to take calculated risks. Their commitment sets the organizational tone, inspiring employees and attracting investors.
As uncomfortable as it may be for you, closing the first customers is your job. Unless you have a co-founder who is strong in sales and/or marketing.
There are four common complaints I hear when discussing this with technical founders:
Lack Of Time
You are the lead developer of your product. And you want to be laser focused on implementing the latest and greatest features. This is a given.
However, there’s no sense in doing that if you have no customers. Prioritizing sales is just as important.
Moreover, talking to real-world prospects can reveal a whole lot more about their actual needs, features that would make sense, UX challenges you have to avoid, competitors they currently use to get the job done.
Lack Of Sales Skills
Not everyone is born a salesman.
But guess what — customers often don’t want to talk to traditional salespeople.
They need a no-BS overview of what you are working on and why they need to buy it.
Sure, you may miss an opportunity or two that a professional sales person would close. But an external sales professional won’t necessarily know the ins and outs of your product, what truly makes it shiny and how you came up with this brilliant idea.
Let alone the fact that you’ve committed your life to realize your dream. This makes for a compelling reason to listen.
Lack Of A Compelling Pitch
This one may need some structure. But you already have most of the answers anyway.
Ask yourself several questions a prospect would indirectly ask for while considering your product:
- What is the main reason they should use it?
- What pain point it solves effectively?
- What is the best audience that would benefit the most?
- How it differentiates from the other competitors?
Given the right price point and a seamless adoption, aggregating your answers within the pitch would make a great initial offer.
Lack Of A Sales Workflow
There isn’t a single place you can sell your product.
Cold calls and emails work in most cases. But there is so much more to being able to offer your product to your ideal customers.
Attending industry events is the best thing for meeting prospects on-site. Being able to present gives you some competitive advantage.
Participating in relevant groups of forums would do the job, too.
As a tech person, you should be able to monitor for relevant keywords or phrases online — places like Google Alerts, social media, forums or communities. A simple crawler would find the relevant conversations you can chime in organically. Plus, there are existing tools that make this happen.
At the end of the day, you should be able to sell your own product. Otherwise, you won’t truly understand the main objections your ideal customers face. If this is really outside of your comfort zone, a sales co-founder may be something seriously worth considering.