Sales Advice for Technical Founders

by Carol Luong11/7/2017

Carol Luong leads U.S. business development at Leadfeeder. She has over 10 years of combined experience with marketing, sales and business development.

You can have the best product or service, but if no one knows about it or understands the value, you won’t survive. Here are three easy ways to jumpstart your sales and build the momentum you need. I’ll go over how to identify and prioritize low hanging leads, how to get in front of these leads, and what a successful sales conversation looks like.

1. Identify and prioritize low hanging leads

Become a thought leader in the space and share your knowledge
Q&A websites, such as Quora,, Stack Exchange, are quick ways to promote your product, because you can easily search for people asking questions that relate to the problem that you solve.

For example, at Leadfeeder we’ve found that traffic from Quora converts to trial signups at around twice the average rate compared to other traffic sources. We also make it a team effort by sharing the links to our Quora answers in a dedicated Slack Channel and having others upvote our answers to boost our answer’s relevance.

When answering questions don’t be too self-promotional and be upfront about your role at your company.

Be there at the time of their search
92% of potential customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. So focus some efforts on getting these online reviews on websites such as Siftery, Capterra, or G2Crowd. And it doesn’t have to just come from paid users. You can incentivize people to review you by offering more free services or a longer trial. And sometimes, a personal 1-to-1 note will suffice if the user really just enjoys your service.

Start writing blog posts, whether it’s on your own website, LinkedIn, Medium, or other websites. Ideally, you want to drive traffic directly to your website with blogs on your own website. This means you need to write about relevant content that your audience typically searches for. The content should alternate between direct topics about your service and other topics that are related.

For example, if your target audience is HR and you sell payroll software, you might also want to write about the hiring process, employee retention, salaries, etc. If you blog on LinkedIn or Medium, just make sure your profile or bio has a good description about your role and company and also make sure to link to your website within the content. It is also always a good idea to be a guest blogger on other reputable websites to leverage their audience and expand your reach.

Leverage live chat on your website to be as responsive as possible
Over 40% of customers prefer live chat for their customer support questions, which makes complete sense since no one likes to pick up the phone anymore and our emails are too cluttered. Even if you’re not always on your computer, you can have chat pushed to your mobile phone or even use chat bots to assist with chat questions. Within a few months of installing live chat on our website, Leadfeeder was able to increase its trial signups by 3.5 percent.

Identify and reach out to anonymous visitors on your website.
98% of website visitors actually visit your website and don’t ever fill out a form or reach out, so you’re missing out on a lot of lost opportunity. Luckily, there are solutions out there that allow you to plug into your Google Analytics and identify the company name and location of your visitors, which pages each visitor is viewing, how visitors find you and how long they’re on your website for.

Be Smart with Your Advertising
Paying for ads can also be a quick way to get leads even if your website isn’t optimized with landing pages or contact forms. You can use paid ads in conjunction with a software like Leadfeeder to identify who is clicking through from your ads.

For example, on LinkedIn you can target by specific job titles, companies, geography and more. You can also create cost-per-click campaigns on search engines and target geographies and keywords related to your solution. For cost-per-click campaigns, you only pay for people who click versus getting just eyeballs on your ad.

2. Get in front of the right prospects

We have all been victims of the terrible sales email that you know was sent out to the masses. So why have we all been guilty of sending out impersonal emails ourselves? Perhaps, it’s lack of time or maybe you’re just trying the spray and pray method? Either ways, it’s not a good excuse. You should only spend time on prospects that are ready to buy your solution and be thoughtful about what your write or say as a first impression.

Do your research to find a targeted list of prospects to reach out to.
In fact, every company has a TAPE recording of their needs and wants and you just need to listen to it: Talent, Advertising, Product and Earnings.

Talent: Following the hiring patterns of a prospect company can reveal their needs before they’re even aware of it or you’ll catch them right at the beginning of their search. For example, if a company is hiring their first salespeople, then they might be in the market for a CRM solution, or if they’re expanding their IT department, they might be ready and have the budget for your cybersecurity solution.

Advertising: Look for cues in a company’s announcements. Will they be at an event? Grab a ticket! Are they pushing an affiliate partnership program? Maybe they’re in need of your referral and rewards solution. Have they just merged with another company? Maybe it’s not the best time to reach out since they’re going through a transition.

Product: Stay on top of changes in a company’s products. Is the company launching a new product or making major improvements to its existing products? Then your customer support solution might be just what they need since they’ll probably get an influx of inquiries.

Earnings: Monitor a company’s earnings and revenues because an increase in funding or a good earnings report might indicate growth and expansion. This might be your time to swoop in with your talent management solution.

If you have a budget
Platforms such as ZenProspect allow you to find decision makers at target companies based on specific criteria, such as company size, industry and my TAPE acronym. These types of solutions also allow you to automate your outreach through sequences so that you don’t have to manually reach out to people and remember to follow up.

If you don’t have a budget:
Step 1: Use a news and social monitoring tool, such as Google Alerts or Hootsuite’s monitoring tool.

Step 2: Search for relevant people to reach out to at these target companies by doing a quick search on LinkedIn and filtering by company name, location, job title, etc.

In this screen shot above, I’ve searched for “Digital Marketing Managers” who work in the “San Francisco area” by inputting into the search bar “company:Salesforce, title:“Digital Marketing Manager”” and checking off the “San Francisco Bay Area” filter option on the right side.

Choose your outreach methods. 3 common ones include:
1. Pick up the phone. You can try getting through gatekeepers behind a corporate phone number or use a platform like ZoomInfo to look up phone numbers for specific individuals.
2. Leverage LinkedIn. Send a message through LinkedIn’s InMail tool.
3. Send a cold email. If you’re not sure what someone’s email address is, you can use a free tool like Hunter to accurately find email address formats or Rapportive’s Google Chrome extension to confirm email addresses and get more context about a person within your Gmail.

To use Hunter, all you have to do is enter in a company’s website and then it’ll source the internet for confirmed email address patterns. In the example above, the email pattern for Salesforce is {first name initial}{last name}

Craft the right message
Emails are a mixture between science and art. It will take some trial and error to see what resonates best with your audience, and you’ll need to test subject lines, length of an email, copy within the email and whether or not images work. At the end of the day, people can spot cookie-cutter emails from a mile away, so try and be as genuine and personalized as possible.

Some successful tactics have been to include a personalized video within the email through Vidyard GoVideo or to mention something the person cares deeply about, such as a pet or hobby. This all shows that you took the extra effort to craft your message. Typically, you can find personal information about a person through a simple search on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and just a general search online.

Ryan O’Hara, VP of Growth and Marketing at LeadIQ, sends videos of himself playing the keyboard and singing a message to his prospects. These have led to a 40% conversion rate from cold outreach to book meetings!

And sometimes, when you open up first about yourself, it makes the other person more willing to open up. For instance, if I send an email on a Friday, I’ll end the email with a line about anything interesting I’m doing over the weekend.

A popular rule of thumb to follow is the “10-80-10” rule. Start your email with a personalized greeting, then insert your cookie-cutter message, and then end with something personalized. Here are 9 email formats to test and more tips on crafting emails.

Build relationships before the sale
Studies by LinkedIn reveal that social sellers create 45% more opportunities. So start engaging in meaningful conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn and anywhere your target audience spends time (even at in-person networking events). On top of that, revamp your social profiles to present yourself as a thought leader in this space, a person open to conversation, and a person who can help.

3. Master the sales conversation

Just like crafting the right message, the actual conversation is also a balance between science and art. A successful demo or sales call has 3 main elements:

• Ask the right questions.
• Listen more than talking.
• Be trustworthy.

Believe it or not, selling is more about understanding your client’s needs versus just the value that your product brings. Asking the right questions can help you better position yourself, prioritize your time on prospects that are actually ready to buy, and focus on the right people within a company. Make sure you ask questions related to the company’s priorities, the decision makers, and timeline of their purchase decision.

Along the lines of asking the right questions, make sure you listen more than you talk. It seems counterintuitive, but studies show that you can boost your win rate by 11% if you talk only about 40% of the time. And if you can get customers to speak 4 minutes straight (with a few interruptions by yourself), you’re looking good. Also, try and keep your company intro to under 2 minutes because people’s attention span are low and you can dive deeper into your product as the conversation continues.

Some other counterintuitive indicators that your call is going well is if the prospect mentions your competitors early on in the conversation and if pricing is questioned a few times during the call. The talk about competitors and pricing can be an uncomfortable one, but this leads into the third element of a successful sales call — be trustworthy.

Being trustworthy is about being transparent. So, if someone asks you who your competitors are, don’t be afraid to list a few. Of course, be prepared to highlight how you’re different than your competitors. This goes the same for pricing. Don’t be afraid to talk about your pricing and stick by your product’s worth. If any objection comes up, make sure to understand where the hesitations are coming from first before giving in to any discounting.

Transparency also allows you to build reputation. Make sure you mention other types of companies you’re also working with. This helps to build affirmation for your prospect and also creates a sense of urgency for your prospect because others are leveraging your product and they currently aren’t.

And lastly, transparency allows you to build rapport with your prospect by being open about your own interests and human qualities. The buyer needs to like you as a person first and foremost, otherwise you can pretty much say goodbye to the sale. So try to find a way to relate to the other person, such as a hobby, sports, kids and more, and be viewed as a person who genuinely wants to help versus just sell.

I hope I was able to cut out the fluff and give you some actual actionable advice! If you have any questions or just want to connect, drop me a note on Twitter @cluong708 or LinkedIn.


  • Carol Luong

    Carol Luong leads U.S. business development at Leadfeeder. She has over 10 years of combined experience with marketing, sales and business development.