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5 months, 30 installations, 0 users. What i've learned. [How NOT to sell a product]

Just to contextualize a bit, I've been working with two friends on a lead generation product from 5 months. I dealt with the developpment for the firsts 4 months and recently started going full in on distribution and marketing.

Until then all we did was using our product (or our competitor's product) to reach many peoples on linkedin automatically. (if you'd like to take a look : https://sphaxx.co/)

It did not worked at all. We had like 30 installations of the chrome extension (the first part of the product) but no reccurrent user and even 0 feedback. Still, we kept going with this approach.

That's the only thing we did from the very start, hardly convinced that as the market was already there and our product free for now, it would not be that hard to get users to use our product.

We were wrong.

I'm sharing this post now because I've just watched the first 30 minutes of the Airbnb's cofounder Brian Chesky by Reid Hoffman and it very much felt like an eye opening videos.

I just realized how easy it is not to apply all the lessons you might have learned through any entrepreneurs's books, articles or videos.

As we got blinded by the preconceived idea that all we needed to do was to reach a massive number of people, we forgot two of the Sacred Commandments taught by Paul Graham our Holy Father which are :

  1. First Commandments : It's better to have 100 peoples that loves you than a million customers that kind of like you.
  2. Which brings us to the Second Commandments : Do things that don't scale. (to get those 100).

I know those are redundant around here but I really wanna emphasize how easy it can be not to apply them.

So from now, I'm just going to radically change my way of dealing with potential users firstly by discarding automation for a more personnalized approach.

And keeping in mind that understanding the user's problem and just getting to know them more is really what matters for now.

  1. 2

    I think what you did wrong was automating your lead generation. I think you should personally approach each prospect explain them and make them use your product and be word of mouth for you.

    1. 1

      Totally agree, we sacrifice the quality of a well defined approach over the reach of a massive size of people.
      Did not work for us.

      1. 1

        In our case, we created a landing page and got 30+ subscribers in a month before writing a single line of code. But i personally send emails to each one individually every two weeks about our journey and progress. That is tedious when the list grows but i feel it is how you can make them more attached. But we are a team of 3 my other 2 colleagues code. so i have time to manage this.

        1. 1

          That's some good figures ! That process is a must to get the very firsts customers staying on your product.

  2. 2

    Who is your core audience ? I mean you will not be able to target serious sales team, due web scrapping on LinkedIn in forbidden. And any serious sales team usually are backed by some CTO/compliance team that knows this and wouldn't allow the company to buy licenses to use your software.

    If those are the ones you are not targeting, who are they ?

    1. 1

      We're targeting mainly small businesses (mostly startups). We tried targeting CEOs (did not worked very well), then we happened to get the higher response rate on business developpement manager and head of Sales. Web scrapping is forbidden on Linkedin but that never has been a problem raised by the people we reached out, the scrapping part is very limited and more of our concern than our users.

    2. 1

      One more thing, are you sure Sales wants more leads ? Or they want more qualified leads?

      "Cold emails" are hard to convert, by any means if you are able to build a automation that send a InMail to the leads, and listing with some sort of DialogFlow to have a full conversation with that lead, you might provide a huge value to those you might want have as a client

      1. 1

        That's a good question, we do try to target teams on a higher level of the sales funnel, those who are in charge of lead acquistion. Our promised/value proposition is "Get more qualified leads with less time spend".

        Love the idea we'll think about that, thanks mate !

  3. 1

    Really interesting :)

  4. 1

    Can you provide more details on "Do things that don't scale". Its not the first time I heard this phrase and I'm trying to get more color on this lesson.
    Thanks!

    1. 5

      The full essay (http://paulgraham.com/ds.html) is worth reading, but one example from early Airbnb was that the founders realized that higher quality photos led to more bookings, so they rented a fancy camera, flew to their largest market (NYC), and helped hosts take nice photos of their apartments. This obviously isn't something they could keep doing forever, but it was a one-time action could take to improve their sales by X%, which puts them on a better trajectory.

    2. 2

      Just don't automate. If you are sending email send it individually. This is good at early time when your goal is to get first 50 customers.

    3. 2

      As camber explained, it means that while you can (i.e: you're small enough) you should do things that could not be done in a huge business due to its size.

    4. 1

      This comment was deleted a month ago.

  5. 1

    wow, thanks for the advice

    1. 1

      You're welcome mate !

  6. 1

    Linkedin should be LinkedIn.

    1. 1

      Linkedin is Linkedin.

  7. 1

    sooo, what's a sphaxx?
    I think your brand could be doing you a disservice, I'm not getting the rabbit link either

      1. 1

        Your logo? All the other rabbits on the page?

  8. 1

    Dude, your UX is horrible. it's opened like 20s linkedin tabs after I click View Dashboard link.

    Fix your UX first.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the info, should be fix.

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