Notes from "How To Build a Solo SaaS Sales Machine"

Jul 15, 2018

I’ve been needing some motivation and ideas for getting a side project off the ground, and ran across a video from Steli Efti at MicroConf a couple years ago.

If you do sales of any kind, it’s definitely worth an hour of your time. Go watch it here.

I’m going to publish the rough notes I took while watching it, and at the end I’ll give my one biggest takeaway.


To be dangerous in sales, understand these:

  • sell based on value (not features, etc)
  • qualify people (ask questions until you actually know if you can help them or not)
  • follow up until you get a yes or no

Content sells

  • How people will discover you, return to you, trust you.
  • It compounds over time (unlike ads, etc)

Sales Emails

Email is a three step process:

  1. Open - figure out how to get them to open the email

    • you’re a human, act like one!
    • be personable, not overly professional
    • don’t be gimmicky or tricky (fake questions, etc)
  2. Read - they need to read it

    • either needs to be really short, or really good
  3. Respond - get a response

    • one simple call to action
    • follow up until you get a yes or no

If your SaaS product has a trial, you’re not emailing them enough.

  • Double the number of emails you send them (today)
  • Enough emails that some people think they’re getting spammed
  • Out of 10 people, you’re better off with 3 that love you and 7 that hate you, then 10 that are indifferent
  • The #1 goal with these emails is to get a response.

Cold Emails

  • read “Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross
  • reach out 1-2 levels above your decision maker - very brief - ask for referral down in the org - 10-30% success rate


  • “90% of the time when I win, its because I followed up more than anyone else”

  • Followup until you get a yes or a no.

  • Most people interpret silence to be rejection… that’s wrong. Stop trying to read their minds. They’re busy, that’s it.

  • Magic happens when you follow up. Because nobody else is.

  • Some people have success with “The breakup email”: - “I’ve been trying to get in touch… I’m going to take you off my list, here’s my contact info if you ever want to get in touch.”

  • Don’t reference your previous emails or make them feel guilty for not responding. Keep it short, upbeat, and just keep following up.


  • Should be quick! (10 to 15min)

  • Quality first: Can/should they buy, is it worth their time

  • Show Benefits, not features: Focus on what’s relevant

  • Sales vs Training: Demo the value, don’t teach functionality


  • When you close a deal, ask for referrals. When they say they need to think about it, say “sure… but what’s one name in the meantime”?

  • When you close a deal, send the person who referred them a thank you note, and have the new customer thank them as well.

  • “if you follow up with everyone at least 20 times, magic will happen in your life”

My Biggest Takeaway

I loved his mindset on following up. When I’ve sent outreach emails in the past, I’ve struggled to get to 2 followups before I give up, as I assume they’re annoyed and not interested.

My biggest takeaway is “follow up relentlessly until you get a yes or a no, and magic will happen”.

I’ve got a new spreadsheet made for one of my side projects, and it’s got 20 columns for tracking when I send followup emails. I’m looking forward to seeing this bear fruit.

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© 2023 Mark Foster