Saturday, December 19, 2009

Demo, Sell and Build - so easy that an engineer can do it

One mantra I have learnt in the past years is "Demo, Sell and Build". I first heard these three words from Bijoy Goswami (founder of Bootstrap Austin) and it sounded like a good concept but I did not care about it much. Later when I tried to build a couple of products myself without selling it first, I started learning the meaning of those three words in the hard way. People around me were telling me that I m an engineer and I don't have the sales expertise to sell the product and I need to hire a good sales man to sell my product and in fact I even started looking for a sales person. Then I figured out that its not a problem with sales, but its a problem with the product itself. I should have built the product after getting the customers and built the product for them and not the other way. Then, the product sells itself.

I no longer believe in the statement "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.

Its a myth when people say that engineers can't sell. Infact engineers are one of the best sales people if they talk to the customers first before building the product. Sales is not that hard.

Say you find there is a problem. Follow these steps.

1) First talk to the people who face the problem and ask them more feedback about the problem and ask them why they think its a problem and is there anything they do currently to solve the problem (or work around the problem, even if it may not be the best solution).
2) Then, ask them what they think would be the best solution (yes before you provide a solution, ask other people who face the problem). Then see if this is the same solution that you have thought or if not, see which one is better (your solution or the solution that you heard from the people who face the problem). Infact ask them.
3) Once you zero in on a solution, then ask them if they would be willing pay you for solving the problem and if yes how much. If they say yes, there you go... you got your first customer. If you cannot cover the cost of the product with just one customer, go and find more customers. If the people who face the problem are not willing to pay for the solution, then see if there is someone else who may be willing to pay for the solution (or maybe the traffic., but before this ask the people who face the problem, whether they will use your solution for sure.. Maybe take a survey).
4) Once you found your customers, then build a demo of the product and show it to your customers and ask them if they would pay right away or get some guarantee from them for paying for your product.
5) Then build your product.
6) Remember you have already sold your product, and you already have a few customers and getting more wont be difficult anymore.

See, I said selling is not that hard.. So easy that an engineer can do it.

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