Your team has been knee-deep in customer discovery and development for months. You’ve demo-ed and piloted your product. Now, it’s time to get the growth engine started.
Nurturing buzz, demand, growth, whatever you call it – it’s hard. You can throw lots of money at it, but that’s a massive risk.
Instead, I’d suggest looking at your existing assets, such as leadership, the ability to build connections, and deep knowledge.
Combine those three together to find your customers and drive home their desire to buy from you, right now.
##Where to Find Sales Help##
Hint: it’s not by hiring someone to run sales.
Hiring your first salesperson is one of the trickiest problems that every startup eventually tackles. Hire too quickly and you’re funneling money into a risky asset. Hire too late? Your competitors will quickly pass you.
You’ve started and grown this company. The stakes are high. So who can you trust?
You, the founder, are the first and best salesperson for your company.
You know your product inside and out. You know what works and what doesn’t. Where the product is and where it’s going. You know the features, competitive advantages, customer pain points, and the product’s benefits. Use it.
You’ve also built a small team of investors, advisors, partners, employees, and users. They know the product intimately and have bought in. Leverage them while you’re hitting product-market fit.
But you will eventually want to hire someone. But only when you think the sales process can scale. Specifically, when you think you can generate marketing leads, you have a clear path to closing customers, and your salesperson covers their salary in revenue.
The conclusion here is a simple: if and only if you have more sales than you can handle should you begin to think about hiring that first salesperson.
##When Growth Hacking Makes Most Sense##
Good relationships won’t make a bad product good, but you can engineer attention for your product.
Here are a few ways to draw eyeballs.
You can collect emails and send people interesting and relevant stuff. SumoMe, a free WordPress plugin, might be the easiest way to grab emails. Noah and the guys at AppSumo help you to turn site visitors into email subscribers. You might convert those people into buyers, Twitter followers, or just an interested readership.
You can try link building. Neil Patel at Quicksprout, noting that sites such as UpWorthy, Yelp, and Airbnb, were boosted by sizeable media exposure on the back of mentions at the NY Times, put together this handy guide to link building.
You can try LinkedIn. Yes. LinkedIn.
Leveraging LinkedIn to sell your product is inexpensive and simple. Business titans and LinkedIn Influencers like Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson push their thoughts, ideas and industry views on their LinkedIn profiles, garnering millions of views.
While you might not have Ariana or Sir Richard’s audience size, you can still build an active and engaged following.
##Appeal to Pain Points & Drive Home the Benefits##
According to SalesBrain and the Triune Brain theory, the reptilian region is the brain’s attention gatekeeper and decision maker. In Thinking Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two systems in the Brain: System 1 (Reptilian + Middle brain) and System 2 (NeoCortex). Kahneman methodically and scientifically establishes that when it comes to purchasing, System 1 rules.
If you can pique the curiosity of a buyer’s reptilian brain with your homepage, newsletter, or ad, you’ve got a fair chance of holding their attention and maybe converting them.
But don’t SCREAM IN ALL CAPS for their attention. Appeal to their pain. What’s irritating them right now? What have they been unable to solve? What are they missing in your life? Could they solve the problem on their own, or is it too distracting to their core business?
Your product is the answer. Your product benefits will greatly improve their lives. You’ll make them feel better. You need to strike an emotional chord.
Let them associate the good feelings with you and your brand.
Good luck growing your company. Let me know how I can help.