How Startups Sell Without a Sales Team

Before you automate sales, understand your human customer

All selling can be automated, but not automatically

If car dealerships can replace salespeople — and I’m looking at Carvana, TrueCar, and the like — any startup can automate the sales process of any product. But automated selling doesn’t happen automatically.

Sales is like selling used cars, not Diet Cokes

People, especially entrepreneurs, like to think of sales as a vending machine (looking at Carvana again), with a zero-friction experience. The customer points to what they want, they swipe a credit card, they receive the product and smile. The hardest part of the process is getting your hand back out of that thief-proof door at the bottom.

I lied. You actually need a sales team.

Just not right away.

Put your sales team to work and document everything

While the eventual goal is automating part or all of the sales process, your sales team will need to learn to overcome all of the issues that the used car salesperson faces day-to-day on that discount lot.

  1. What do they already know about your solution?
  2. What kind of pain are they feeling from the problem?
  3. What are their value and cost expectations?

Learn how to sell or find someone who can

I find it ironic that I started my technical career because I didn’t want to be in sales. Somewhere during my journey in entrepreneurism, I learned to love sales. You wouldn’t know it from looking at me or talking to me, but I’ve gotten pretty good at sales.

Sell once. Learn. Repeat.

Start with the first sale. Sell once, learn to sell again. This is step selling. Figure out the reasons why your product is not just a cool toy, but a must-have. Then learn how to sell that must-have. You may need to reinvent everything about the process and the product before you lean on the accelerator.

  1. What do they already know about your solution? How do you turn that into what they need to know about your product to make the purchasing decision?
  2. What kind of pain are they feeling from the problem? How can you quantify a reduction in that pain and get that information to them as early in the process as possible?
  3. What are their value and cost expectations? How do you boost both of those expectations such that they see a bargain when presented with the price and the pricing model?

Now automate

Once you’ve got a sales team established that is getting results and documenting the data from those positive outcomes, you can eventually evolve that team to an enterprise model once the product starts selling itself.

Your customers are your secret weapon in automation

Your best customers will help you sell, so talk to them. Help them to individually meet their goals and look for patterns you can take advantage of. Be transparent with what you’re trying to accomplish. You’ll be surprised at how powerful converting individual customer actions to goals can be when placed against aggregated stats and words on a website.

I’m a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. Sold ExitEvent. Building & GetSpiffy. Former Automated Insights. More info at

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