How Successful Startups Avoid Selling To People Who Aren’t Buying

Discover, define, and mine your market to find customer gold

Joe Procopio

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Why do some new products fly off the shelves while others have sales cycles that extend out for months?

Selling any product is a mixture of art and science, but selling a new product with no track record from a company with no reputation — that requires a science all its own.

Every new product is different, of course, but one commonality I see among successful startups is an unwillingness to market and sell to people who aren’t buying. As simple as that sounds, it’s a trap entrepreneurs fall into over and over again.

In 20 years of rolling out new products and selling into dozens of different markets, I’ve learned that to sell a new product, repeatedly and sustainably, you have to refuse to twist the customer’s arm.

Here’s how to do that.

Your goal is NOT to sell as much product as you can

I’m going to buck conventional wisdom here a little bit and tell you that all of the advice you hear about always-be-selling and always-be-closing and throwing enough shit at a wall for some to stick — this isn’t for you.

I’m not disparaging those tactics, per se, just letting you know they’re not intended for an entrepreneur selling a new product.

They say that every buying decision is made almost immediately; some will even peg that limit at the first 60 seconds. One of the reasons a lot of entrepreneurs hate selling is because they think that this 60 seconds has something to do with them. It does not. That first 60 seconds is all about the product and the pitch.

In fact, confident salespeople might tell you they exude confidence because they’re great at selling. But in their darkest hours, they’ll admit that their confidence comes from having a great product, an amazing message, and selling into the right market.

Those first two things are far easier to change than that last one. So let’s start with the hardest part first.

Discover your market

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com