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Ask HN: I'm a solo founder and I suck at sales. Help me please.
4 points by helplessfounder 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
I quit my job a year ago to start my own business and I have an MVP ready now. I love all the aspects of running a business except doing sales. And to be honest, I hate it. That's just not compatible with my personality. Every email I want to write is a huge burden. Sometimes it takes hours to write one (not joking).

Somehow, I've managed to send over 100 cold emails to potential sellers (it's a marketplace app). A few of them have shown some interest but I don't know how to convince them to use my service.

I wish I had a co-founder to do this but due to some complicated reasons I cannot. And I don't have enough money to hire someone. I've been stuck at this stage for 3 months and I don't know how to get out of it.

What should I do?

This sound like run of the mill sales anxiety, which is completely normal and to be expected. Not everyone can do everything!

Try to re-frame the situation, pretend you are a potential buyer and ask yourself what key things you would require or be looking for. Once you have that list, go through it and answer how your app fills those requirements. This exercise will help to remove some of the anxiety as you'll already have some pre-loaded answers to common questions.

I would also consider what has worked on you in the past, as a buyer. Marketing and selling tactics are applicable no matter the industry. So, what has made you eager to try a product? What has turned you off of a product? What have other sales people done that made you close the deal? Physically write these things out in a big list. And again, once the list is complete, make some notes on how you and/or your app can accomplish the things on the list (or avoid the negatives of the list).

Lastly, networking. Cold calls/emails are a starting point and might even be necessary down the road. However, networking is the key. As long as your not shilling some crap app, networking is what is needed. Getting one customer that is enthusiastic about your product and willing to recommend it to others is worth 10 unengaged customers in the long run. It's like hiring a sales person, except they are paying you for the app while they recommend it to others. If your product/app is of high quality, it'll stand on its own.

Some people are able to naturally sell. If you aren't a natural born saleshuman, prepare and practice. Anticipate the questions you'll receive and have answers ready. Role-play different sales scenarios. Role-play being the buyer. As you do this more, you'll naturally become more confident which will help your sales in its own way.

Thank you very much.

I'm in the same boat!


- The Challenger Sale

- Crossing the Chasm

- To Sell is Human

- The Little Red Book of Selling


- https://www.heavybit.com/library/ has some videos that are relevant after making a few sales.

Product Description:

- https://www.cortes.design/post/saas-conversion-rates (generally good content, not sure if it's geared towards marketplaces)

What problem are you solving? Who's the niche? Are you speaking to one of their top three pains?

Look at sales as another thing to be mastered, be proud of your product and ask for the money, start the money conversation early on. Don't forget why your doing this.

Thank you very much.


Do you have a friend who works in marketing and can help you with these sales calls? Perhaps you can find someone who is willing/able to provide some of their time to help you for some potential future payout or investment in the app? Because you are trying to sell a service, I don't think it's viable to ask someone to help you for free without them having a stake in the business or receiving some sort of pay out. But I would look to friends who can help first, then branch out.

Thank you very much.

As a personal rule of thumb, only one out of 20 people answers to any query.

IMO you simply need to send emails/fliers/etc to 20 times the number of sellers you aim at recruiting.

For the email content: It should be very short (less than 500 words) and mostly explain why it is interesting for a seller to use your platform.

Good luck!


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