Starting Dropkiq has been one of my first real experiences in software sales. As a technical entrepreneur, I’ve made the mistake several times of having the “if you build it they will come” mentality. The thought that everyone will immediately understand the need for your product and line up to give you their time and money without you needing to do anything to make it happen! The reality is that even if you build something incredible, it will take a lot of time, effort, and money to get the word out. It’s not easy.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine today, but at one time even airplanes were a new concept that faced its own challenges to sell. Many people might know that the Wright Brother’s first flight took place on December 17, 1903. However, many people do not know that the first time they made money from their invention was February 8, 1908. In other words, it took a little more than 4 years to make their first sale.
I was chatting about this problem with a friend, Matt McIntyre, and he used an interesting analogy that really helped me to understand sales better. He told me, you need to imagine that every one of your potential customers has an imaginary knife in their gut. For some people, that knife is pushed in deep, and it’s really painful for them. Those people will buy your product to alleviate their pain. For others, the knife has little-to-no pressure at all. For those people, your product may be a nice-to-have.
I’ve thought about this a lot since we’ve had that discussion, and I think there is a lot of truth to this. Also, it’s important to realize that the pressure on the imaginary knife can change over time. If you think about recent events with COVID-19, there are some obvious examples. In November of last year, many companies had little actual need for Zoom App. Maybe they never had virtual meetings, or used free alternatives that were good enough. However, COVID-19 changed things for many companies. They now have a new pain that needs to be solved. The knife had been pushed deeper. Zoom was able to solve that pain and acquire thousands of new customers.
I’m still new to the world of software sales, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. All I know is that for many of us, the “hustle” is a long, difficult, and sometimes emotionally draining process. Just remember, it’s nothing new and it’s all part of the journey.