When I was in my nerdy-coder years, I used to believe in this formula:
Great Engineering = Great Product = Great Sales
However, if you ask me today, after the recent few years of learnings and mistakes in the SaaS market, I would laugh at my yesterday’s self and tell him, “You need to stop inventing formulae.”
I am writing this post to help any technical co-founders like me, to get started in the discipline of sales.
Why do I need to sell?
Here’s a list I wrote to justify to myself about why I should sell.
- Selling helps me see the pain points of my customers - Listening to the pain points helps me in coming up with the direction of the product.
- Selling validates (or invalidates) my mental dialogue about the customer - I am always one ‘no’ away from learning which of my assumptions about my customer is wrong.
- Selling gives me mental ownership - Selling makes me acknowledge that I put my own reputation at stake by putting the product in the hands of the customer. This helps me make responsible choices.
- Selling creates value-based relationships - Selling creates a special kind of relationship between me and the customer - the kind I can never get in any other means. The basis of this relationship is a demonstrated value-addition to each other’s lives.
Where did I get started?
Here are the resources I used to get started in Sales. I would call myself a beginner in Sales right now. I hope you will find this list useful.
I knew about Dan Pink from his work on human motivation. When I started as a techie-consultant, I read his book Drive cover to cover in 2 days.
In fact, our company AMPyard was named using the first letters of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose - the intrinsic motivators list found in Drive.
Until I started researching about Sales books, I did not know that Dan Pink had written a beginner-friendly book about Sales also. Once I knew I had a book on Sales from an author I respected, I bought and downloaded it on my Kindle instantly.
Dan does not start with sales Gyan in his book. He first sells to you the idea that everyone is a salesperson. Then, he gives you the values that help you in moving others, with great stories and anecdotes. Today, I am almost halfway reading this book and it already has challenged quite a huge number of my beliefs about selling.
If you want to take away one thing from this blog, take this! Just listen to this podcast. Each episode is 30 minutes long and features a guest. Each episode starts with 3 actionable takeaways by the guest, that you will get within few minutes of listening.
The hosts Armand and Nick ask interesting and challenging questions to their guest, with an agenda to educate the audience. At the end, the hosts share 4 insightful takeaways from the conversation with the guest.
I can’t explain the impact of it myself. If you want to experience the impact, just try listening to one episode. I am sure you will ask for more.
Blogs are something that I skim when I get free time. I have found many practical ideas so far from Saastr’s blogs dedicated to Sales. Here are a few of their blogs that I found interesting.
- In The Early Days, What You Think is a “Sales” Problem is More Likely a Marketing Problem
- 7 Things The Best Sales Reps Get Right
- How to Get Ahead in SaaS Sales in 7 Easy Steps
SaasBoomi is a community that attracted my attention when I saw their posts getting engagement from the people I respect. They have a knowledge hub, a collection of mostly podcasts, to help SaaS founders from India. Right now, they have limited content for Sales audience but they are thoughtful and quality ones. Give them a try, you won’t regret it.
Hubspot’s sales blog is yet another resource that I use to learn about SaaS sales. The articles here are mostly short-reads, that you can skim in few minutes. They are mostly action-focused too. Here are some of my recent favorites.
- How to Create a Sales Plan: Template + Examples
- 7 Awful First Sentences That Are Killing Your Outreach Emails
- Mass Email Is Dead. Try This Better Marketing Strategy Instead + Examples
I promise to write more about my journey of getting out of my comfort zone and learning to sell. Hope you found this useful!
Photo credit: Ben White