Learn How to Sell

Late in the summer of 2001 I was seriously frustrated. After raising money from a professor, hiring several friends as programming interns, and taking a leave of absence from college, we had built a good product, but only had two customers. Eagerly, I reached out to a mentor of mine I met earlier that year when he was on sabbatical from Microsoft.

As he was back in Seattle, we scheduled a time to talk. Even today, I clearly remember that I was standing on a campus tennis court using my cell phone (a flip phone!) for the conversation. After sharing our progress, and my frustrations, he quickly diagnosed my problem: I needed to learn how to sell. Everything I did was focused on building the product, and not on acquiring customers. It was time for a change.

Most entrepreneurs are in love with their product. Unfortunately, most products don’t sell on their own. One of the most difficult, and important, challenges for product entrepreneurs is to learn how to sell. When an entrepreneur reaches out for help, it’s almost always because they haven’t figured out to grow sales.

What else? What are some more thoughts on entrepreneurs needing to learn how to sell?

8 thoughts on “Learn How to Sell

  1. The only thing I see with this post is that it might dissuade product-oriented founders. Remember — it’s a lot easier to learn how to sell a product that’s built (or hire someone to sell it) than it is to sell a product that hasn’t been built! What I’m saying is — product-centric founders tend to have a leg up on business or sales-oriented founders.

  2. Great concise post. It all starts with defining a strategic process and getting into a rhythm.

  3. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard,(always from the entrepruenur or engineer), “this product is so good, it will sell itself”. For the past 13 years I have helped tech companies grow their sales, and agree the biggest problem especially for startups is not having their sales machine dialed in. The fact is, no matter how good the product or service is, the value still needs to be articulated in a way that shows the potential buyer how it will help them solve their problem or reach their goal. Nothing happens until someone sells something.

    Great advice Dave

    1. Lol if they say it will sell itself they are not a real entreprenuer. But if you are a true entrepreneur it won’t be hard to sell. A sales man trys to sell a product to a lot of people. An entreprenuer makes a lot of friends that will buy many product.

  4. I like where you were going but it didnt really help people to sell. Just a good tip. Product marketing and talking about your product can hurt you if you are not a well known brand. If you want to sell your product you should sell yourself first and start networking. Most people buy from others they trust, and it really is about who you know. Its all in your mindset! I paint a really good picture of how to sell a lot of product
    on this post. The throry is really all about understand what being an entrepreneur is vs a sales man.

  5. I remember when I started my first sales job (auto sales) I struggled, horribly. Until I realized what I was doing wrong: I wasn’t projecting VALUE. The one thing a customer always wants to know: WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Create something with value (and the right marketing) and the sales will come to you.

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