The Side Project Sales Checklist is a comprehensive, chronologically ordered list of sales tactics that you can try with your next side project. The list is free and open source so feel free to suggest your own additions anytime.

Pre-Launch

This section pairs nicely with the Pre-Launch section of the Marketing Checklist, so be sure to check that out too.

Competitor Research

Move fast. Speed is one of your main advantages over large competitors. - Sam Altman, President of YCombinator

  • [ ] Find out what your competitors’ sales funnels are like (sign up and go through as much of their process as possible).
  • [ ] Determine your competitors’ key lead generation strategies (see the list of lead generation strategies below).
  • [ ] Find out the experience level of your competitors’ salespeople (look for listings on job boards or at employee Linkedin accounts).
  • [ ] Make a list of your competitors’ customers (see these tools for researching competitors):

    Finding competitors’ customers
    • [ ] Check their Twitter followers, mentions.
    • [ ] Look through their Facebook fans.
    • [ ] Find people who follow them on Linkedin.
    • [ ] Check their website. Some companies list customer stories on their websites.

Customer Research

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. - Zora Neale Hurston, Novelist

  • [ ] Talk to potential customers in your contact list. Get their feedback on your idea, ask them if they might be interested.
  • [ ] Attend meetups or conferences for your target market.
  • [ ] Reach out to your competitors’ customers, find out what they like/don’t like.
  • [ ] Find blogs and trade journals potential customers might read.

Sales Funnel Setup

The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made. - Zig Ziglar, Author and Speaker

  • [ ] Know the difference between prospects, leads, opportunities, and customers.
  • [ ] Create an ideal sales funnel diagram, experiment with alternatives.
  • [ ] Set up a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) or spreadsheet to store leads (see this list of CRMs).
  • [ ] List your key lead generation strategies and their costs.

    Lead generation strategies
    • Paid advertising
    • Content marketing (blog posts and social media)
    • SEO
    • Cold outreach (calls, emails, Linkedin messages)
    • Event marketing (conferenes, meetups, sponsored events)
  • [ ] Create multiple cold email messages to test.
  • [ ] Create a cold sales call script.
  • [ ] Practice your cold sales call script with a friend or mentor.

Lead Capture/Generation

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Their needs and wants impact every aspect of your business. - John Rampton, Serial Entrepreneur

  • [ ] Set up a new leads email list and signup form (see this list of email marketing tools).
  • [ ] Set up on-site messaging to capture leads and engage customers (see this list of live chat tools).
  • [ ] Add new lead signup form to company blog posts and social media accounts.
  • [ ] Buy email or lead lists.
  • [ ] Find email addresses with a tool like Hunter.
  • [ ] Find email addresses on public social media profiles.
  • [ ] Scrape websites with lists of leads using a tool like import.io.

Post-Launch

This section pairs nicely with the Post-Launch section of the Marketing Checklist. Sales and marketing are really two sides of the same coin, so you’ll probably need a little of both.

Direct Outreach

You should be talking to a small number of users who are seriously interested in what you’re making, not a broad audience who are on the whole indifferent. - Jessica Livingston, Founding Partner at Y Combinator

  • [ ] Send early access notification to leads identified in research.
  • [ ] Send a coupon code to potential leads to let them try your product free or at a discount.
  • [ ] Send a coupon code to close friends and family members to let them try your product.
  • [ ] Reach out to your social media followers, ask them to try your product.
  • [ ] Cold call ~20 people who might be good customers.
  • [ ] Ask your current customers for introductions to other potential customers.
  • [ ] Offer a referral bonus to current customers who send you new leads.
  • [ ] Start an email campaign to prospects and leads.

    Running a sales email campaign
    • [ ] Send three cold emails per day over 7 days. Experiment with messaging, take note of what works.
    • [ ] Send three follow up emails per day for 7 days. Experiment with messaging, take note of what works.
    • [ ] Scale it up. Find more prospects, set up an automated drip campaign, rinse and repeat every month.
    • [ ] There’s also a really comprehensive how-to article here.

Recurring

  • [ ] Make cold calls.
  • [ ] Send email campaign.
  • [ ] Connect with potential customers on social media, reach out when they accept.
  • [ ] Find/create a personal sales mantra and repeat it weekly before doing your sales tasks.
  • [ ] Meet with a “real” salesperson. Learn from their energy, successes, and failures.
  • [ ] Follow up with leads and current customers to make sure things are going well.

Optimizations

  • [ ] Set up tracking for different lead generation channels in order to:
    • Determine ROI (return on investment) of lead generation methods
    • Determine average cost of acquisition
    • Identify blockages in your sales funnel (where are people dropping off?).
  • [ ] Survey new customers about your sales process, see if they have suggestions (see this list of survey tools).
  • [ ] Determine your average customer’s lifetime value (LTV) and cost of acquisition (CAC).
  • [ ] Implement a lead scoring system to determine your best prospects.
  • [ ] Focus your outreach efforts only on the highest quality prospects.
  • [ ] A/B test your cold email and phone messaging.
  • [ ] Upsell current customers on new offerings.
  • [ ] Collect and display testimonials from current customers.
  • [ ] Record your sales calls and critique them alone or with a friend.