“Sell” is NOT a four-letter word

Many, if not all startup founders, tend to assume that their products will sell by itself. They believe that what they’re creating is the next best thing and readily assume that users/customers (or paying users) will be lining up for it. Just build it and they will come ?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the enthusiasm and/or confidence of the startup founder but I want to point out that reality is customers don’t care about products as much as founders do!

Of course founders are suppose to know the ins-and-outs of their products, understand every features and even LOVE their products but customers will fork out cash only for something that is useful to them or solves a problem for them. Most customers  won’t look at or even know about your latest funding or read about you on tech blogs, they might not even care about all the bells and whistles of your product.

Convincing a user or prospect to become a paying customers is what is know as sales. But these very sales skills are often missing in many startups. Perhaps because the concept of selling is misunderstood.

The act of selling is not really about pushing products on people but more about solving a problem for people. People are driven to buy only if it gives them benefits. What benefit are you selling ? Once your potential customers have something to relate it to, they will be willing to pay for it. Lets look at some of the main reasons why people buy. These could apply to anything and in fact you should look at some of your recent purchases and see which ones were the result of these benefits below :

1.People buy because the product improves their current condition. Perhaps it increases their revenue or it helps them to cook better or makes them more efficient or makes them look stylish and in-trend.

2. People buy because the product helps them reduce cost. It could be tangible costs like dollar savings or intangible things like time-saving.

3. People buy because the product increases efficiency or productivity,  example it enables them to work faster.

4. People buy to reduce risk or avoid bad things . A product like a personal tracking device could be attractive as it prevents loss of precious items or even buying an insurance policy.

Start learning how to sell early, it’ll go a long way. I’ll leave you with the fame words of Zig Ziglar who amplifies the above – sell what people need and overcome their reasons to reject you. “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”

Be realistic, and don’t get distracted by the glory of fundraising or being on stage in a startup event, or even being on the cover of a magazine, sales remains the ultimate validation of any startup and VCs eventually will look at a steady inflow of revenue and profits as the “holy grail”.

—– Thanks to the CEO Blogger, Thai language version of this post can be read here. ——

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