A friend reached out to let me know he was giving a talk at the University of Michigan business school re: startup founders making their initial sales, and sent along four questions which I enjoyed answering. I thought I’d republish those thoughts here:

1) How far along in the product development cycle do you think startups should start engaging with prospects?

Startups should absolutely engage prospects from the very beginning. It’s all about solving the customer’s pain, and validation of the market opportunity. You should be able to pre-sale the product you’re building to prove there is a need. You don’t have to actually start charging a credit card or send invoices, rather collecting signed LOIs is a strong enough proof point. This also forces you as the founder, and your team to work through your value proposition early on. This is surprisingly harder than most people think.

2) What advice would you offer founders with no sales experience about making their first critical sales?

Sell your product! No one can beat the founder as a salesperson, as you know your product and business better than anyone. Selling your own product will also prove out the need for a sales hire, and help you navigate the type of person you’d like to hire.

3) What did you learn in the process of making your first sales?

It’s hard. People don’t respond. Persistence pays off.

4) What (if anything) would you do differently if you had it to do all over again?

Raise money right away. We had the opportunity to raise a seed round before I started working on the product. That would have been a signal of early validation and helped us as we progressed.

This post initially appeared on Medium