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Yes, there are tons of resources but I'll try to offer some simple tips.

1. Sales is a lot like golf. You can make it so complicated as to be impossible or you can simply walk up and hit the ball. I've been leading and building sales orgs for almost 20 years and my advice is to walk up and hit the ball.

2. Sales is about people and it's about problem solving. It is not about solutions or technology or chemicals or lines of code or artichokes. It's about people and it's about solving problems.

3. People buy 4 things and 4 things only. Ever. Those 4 things are time, money, sex, and approval/peace of mind. If you try selling something other than those 4 things you will fail.

4. People buy aspirin always. They buy vitamins only occassionally and at unpredictable times. Sell aspirin.

5. I say in every talk I give: "all things being equal people buy from their friends. So make everything else equal then go make a lot of friends."

6. Being valuable and useful is all you ever need to do to sell things. Help people out. Send interesting posts. Write birthday cards. Record videos sharing your ideas for growing their business. Introduce people who would benefit from knowing each other then get out of the way, expecting nothing in return. Do this consistently and authentically and people will find ways to give you money. I promise.

7. No one cares about your quota, your payroll, your opex, your burn rate, etc. No one. They care about the problem you are solving for them.

There is more than 100 trillion dollars in the global economy just waiting for you to breathe it in. Good luck.




YES!

Sales is also knowing who to target and when.

For example: early-stage startups should be looking for early-adopters.

>> Early adopters don’t need as much proof as the early majority in order to buy.

>> They take risks on products because they can. They’re often in senior positions with budgets, hold considerable social capital in their company, and can identify a specific use case need.

>> Early adopters take risks on new products because they know how much they can gain & motivated by competitive edge

>> Early-adopters are also project-driven. They are interested in the shortest time-to-value with a limited amount of resources on their end. Do not try and sell the farm and future value where results take 6 months and beyond.

>> Early-adopters are also the first group to generate real revenue.


Being valuable and useful is all you ever need to do to sell things. Help people out. Send interesting posts. Write birthday cards. Record videos sharing your ideas for growing their business. Introduce people who would benefit from knowing each other then get out of the way, expecting nothing in return. Do this consistently and authentically and people will find ways to give you money. I promise.

This doesn't fit my experience at all. People just expect me to do things for them for free out of the goodness of my heart, and expected that even when I was literally homeless.

I've never entirely figured out why that is.

If people just found ways to give me money because I do useful stuff, I think I would have long ago stopped being poor. But I'm still poor and I routinely get treated like I'm some kind of beggar for trying to find some way to monetize my work.

So I think there's probably a bit more to it than that.


In my experience there are two components at work, the character of the customer and how technical you are.

Some clients just expect free work, you can try to train them otherwise, but it will be an uphill battle.

I've also found that the more technical you are, the more they expect free work. Almost as if they assume it won't take much effort on your part so they shouldn't really have to pay for it.


I've also found that the more technical you are, the more they expect free work.

Thank you. This is a helpful thought for me.

I'm in a small town and I have better technical skills than most people around me and I'm not even charging that much, but I can't seem to get taken seriously. This is something to contemplate.


This might seem like a dumb question, but is it possible that "not even charging that much" leads to "can't seem to get taken seriously"?

The reason I ask is that over the years, I've been on both the buying and selling side of technical products and services. And I've noticed it's common that extremely price-sensitive customers won't take you seriously no matter how little you charge.

On the flip side, customers who understand the ROI they'll get from your work often won't balk at prices higher than you think are reasonable.

But I know that it's not always possible to just start charging more, depending on what you sell and who you sell it to.


This may be a factor, but I also initially worked for a non-profit. That's the majority of my paid work on the ground in town here.

I'm relatively new to town and I am a freelance writer and blogger by trade and I know something about creating an online business because of it. I feel like if I am too critical of what other website people do who are more long-time locals, I'm basically cutting my own throat.

There's a lot of factors and they are hard to tease out. I feel like no one online would likely pay me to help them set up a blogspot site. I spend a lot of time on Hacker News and people here role their own and probably wouldn't see any value in paying me for what I know about the backend of blogspot and how to do design work in that venue.

I'm more technically inclined than most locals and there's a big chasm between me and them on trying to convey why what I do has value. I can see value in it, but I don't know how to explain it and I am not good at sales. I have experience doing volunteer work and I sort of fell into doing more of that, which I can't really afford to do because I'm a dirt poor freelancer. I need to find a way to improve my income.


A good way to combat this is to focus the conversation on solving the business problem and less on the technical solution.


I think maybe the difference/nuance is where you mention people expect you to do these things.

The activities I mentioned arent expected. In fact, they are usually unexpected which makes them all the more special.

Not sure that helps specifically but it did occur to me as I read your post.


The only explanation I have for that expectation is that I'm a woman. It's not an explanation I like because it gives me no means to solve the problem. It's also not universally true that all women are dirt poor, so I would like to think there is some solution, but I don't know what it is.

My experience with doing nice things for people that they didn't expect is that they either latch onto me as a mommy figure and treat me abusively or conclude I'm hitting on them and they would like to hit that. The idea that I'm just social and warm and I see this as a diplomatic thing to do seems to never occur to people. They always and consistently interpret it as extremely personal and latch onto me in a problematic fashion and it doesn't go good places for me business-wise that leads to money.

I've been trying to sort that out for years and I feel I have made some progress, but it's far from a solved problem.


One of the best posts I've read on HN ever. Thanks Colin.


> 4. People buy aspirin always. They buy vitamins only occasionally and at unpredictable times. Sell aspirin.

This one is strange to me. I've bought vitamins regularly for 20 of the past 25 years and haven't bought Aspirin (or Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, etc) even once during that same time period.


Its metaphor for "people buy solutions to problems they have much more than they buy preventative care."


Illustration purposes aside, I've interestingly never bought or taken aspirin in my life, and I'm middle aged.

Aspirin seems to be a generational marker -- people under a certain age have likely never encountered aspirin. It's like the 3.5" floppy disk Save icon -- most people of the current generation know what it means but they've never seen the real thing.


If you want to go from deals worth thousands to millions instead then:

8. Take them to lunch, dinner, and karaoke.

Relates to #2.

It's all about people, relationships, and trust. Once you have that you have everything you need.


> Yes, there are tons of resources but I'll try to offer some simple tips.

This is a great post!


You are my god!


Well done




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