Sales as understood by an Engineer.

Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

I’m bewildered, I tended to look down upon sales as if it was lacking rigor, substance, or reproducibility. But I was wrong! Sales is a creative, disciplined effort to bring ideas to fruition.

Engineering does not scale, or why did I start sales.

Remember that first time you discovered the power behind Software Development? For me, it was in college, while studying Econometrics I stumbled on the Machine Learning course by Andrew Ng from Stanford. Suddenly, I realized I could do far superior data analysis using computer intelligent driven methods. I was at a dead-end.

After 10 years of developing software, the same doomed feeling arrived: unproductivity. Planning and designing a new project would only take about 5 to 10% of my time, the rest would be about execution, which at this point presented little mystery or challenge. I thought: if I were able to effectively do sales, and consequently, increase my resources. My productivity could improve up to a factor of 10!

It’s all about lifestyle

Also, while Software Engineering provided a good salary, job stability, freedom, and exciting opportunities during my twenties. I discovered, that unfortunately, my financial aspirations and life purpose did not match the career path of a Software Engineer.

COVID-19 brought drastic alterations to our Society. It is only morally responsible for the people in the better positions to take the greater risks.

Learning about Algorithms, sorry Funnels.

Do you remember your first algorithm? For me it was finding the prime numbers for the first n integers, in simple words:

  1. Create an empty array to store the prime numbers.
  2. Begin iterating the numbers from 1 to n, pass them to a function to determine if it is a prime number.
  3. In the function, if a number is divisible by any of the stored prime numbers continue with the next one, if not, append it to the array.
  4. Optimize the algorithm by exiting early when the square of the number is bigger than n.

This algorithm is composed of conditionals and iterators and it can be beautifully summarized in a Flow Diagram, just as in the case of a sales sequence:

The building blocks of an Algorithm are conditionals and iterations, the same is true for Sales Funnels.

Getting started with sales is about finding the right leads (filtering), and go, for each one, through a number of steps until the sale is closed.

It’s incredible, that until this day a Text Editor is my primary tool of work.
Heck, I even kept using a source control system!

The Minimum Viable Audience

Seth Godin is the leading figure in Marketing and a prolific writer, think of him as Bob Martin for Computer Science. And just as how Bob and others did with the Agile Manifesto, Seth revolutionized how Marketing is conceived and done.

Seth goes through a great extent to explain the difference between Marketing and spam, by establishing the ultimate goal of a Marketer to be providing value. In that regard, he proposes that marketing directly impacts product development, or in other words, know your customer before your product.

Before building a product consider how it will be sold.

The cornerstone of his work is The Minimum Viable Audience: the smallest group that could possibly sustain you in your work. More explicitly, if you cannot find a Minimum Viable Audience for your product is not worth building it!

Members of an audience are differentiated by their dreams, worldviews, and energy, or how Seth calls it their internal narrative. Some effective questions to get to know your Minimum Viable Audience are:

  • How do they feel? Focus on a specific time or activity in their daily routine, that you want to help them with.
  • Who are they? Consider what do they do, both professionally and outside of work. More importantly, who do they tell themselves they are?

Approach potential customers, as how they see themselves, not as you see them.

  • What do they desire? What are their aspirations? What do they want to become? When selling a product, there are only two options: give them something they want or remove a pain-point in their lives.

To close a sale it’s easier if you offer them a significant improvement in a small part of their lives than a small improvement in their life as a whole.

  • Where do they belong? By identifying the culture, groups, and places of your audience is it’ll be easier to reach them, and generate new leads.

Just how minimum your audience needs to be?

420 monthly subscriptions at $10 each gives you an annualized revenue of $50,000.

Photo by Robert Keane on Unsplash

PRO Tip: The markdown of a viral product, is that the need to share the product was intrinsically designed in it.

Service & Empathy your path to success

“All effective marketing makes a promise.” -Seth Godin

Promises are not about product features, they are about emotion. Contrary to economic theory, our decisions are not exclusively rational, but also integrate emotional drives.

By carefully, identifying and defining the emotions your audience frequently experiences it’ll be easier to connect with them.

Examples of complex emotions for selling a professional social network could be sketched as:

  • Advance your career, by earning wider recognition for your work & ideas.
  • Live a more exciting life, by connecting with interesting people.
  • By managing your professional presence online, you’ll have more time to spend with the people you love.
  • Feel safe, about your future earnings by developing and monetizing a personal brand.
  • Become an innovator, and lead the transition to a digital economy.

Drafting an enticing promise can only be done through empathy, building a sustainable business is the consequence of a commitment to serve your customers.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Remember, every time you reach a new lead. Feel their pain, after that it will be easier to offer them a chance to improve their lives.

Acknowledgments

  • Seth Godin and his transformational “This is marketing” book.
  • Victor Vatus from Make Sales who is helping me make my first 100 sales.

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Santiago M. Quintero

Santiago M. Quintero

Entrepreneur, Software Engineer & Writer specialized in building ideas to test Product Market Fit and NLP-AI user-facing applications.