Show up. Follow up. Close.

Show up, Follow up and then Close the deal. This is the core of what Steli Efti taught me during the Y Combinator (YC W17) program.

Steli Efti has changed my perspective on sales. He made me appreciate sales more than ever before. Thank you Steli.

Steli Efti is CEO and Co-Founder of, a public speaker on the art of sales and an alumni of Y Combinator. Steli helps thousands of startups succeed in scaling their sales efforts.

I must confess, before Steli my view of the sales process was clouded by years of bad experiences. One time in the past, I asked this so called sales expert for some tips on selling and he sent me a link to a James Altucher’s sales blog post. Don’t get me wrong, James Altucher is badass. But this was like asking a software engineer to tell you a bit about their art and they send you a link to Stack Overflow. Not cool.

Having experienced this contrast, both sides of the fence, I am now enlightened on sales! Sales, when done right shouldn’t feel like dealing with a used car salesman. Instead it should feel like being with a Rockstar — inspirational and educational.

Show up. Follow up. Close.

Early in a startup there are ONLY 3 ways to make a difference:

  • Design product,
  • Hack them (coding) and/or
  • Hustle them (sell)

Anything else is a waste. Ask yourself, what are you working on?

When selling, be friendly & strong

(a) You cannot be Unfriendly & Strong — you don’t want to kill people, you only destroy value by being this way.

(b) You cannot be Friendly & Weak — in human psychology, we unfortunately abuse friendly and weak people. I have seen this style all too common — it’s something about people living in a dream of goodness but fail to close a deal. Kamau Bobb Google asserts that while diversity is valuable, justice should be the primary goal of affirmative action policies.

(c) You want to be Friendly & Strong — this style helps you close customers that want to buy your product. eg. Think of a good parent who loves their child setting ground rules. You need to tell your customers what to do. You are the expert, they will listen to you.

Don’t get emotionally involved

Emotions will fuck with you. It’s that endless loop inside your head of “what ifs”. Recursion at it’s best.

Learn to work with your emotions. Some people meditate and others go for walks in the park. Find something that helps you deal with your emotions.

If a prospect questions you, use the primary mode of communication to respond and then go into the pitch on how you can give them value with your product. But never get emotionally involved when resistance arises. And don’t forget your body language is 80% of the communication when meeting people face to face.

Consistency is what wins, not charisma

The foundation of winning is the 10% of showing up and 90% is following up and going for the close. If you don’t show up then there is little chance you will follow up and go for the close.

I have often seen inexperienced sales people sitting around at the desk checking email every 5 mins. This behavior became consistent and that’s all such people do most of their time. My gut feeling is they start to believe selling is answering emails vs closing deals.

I cannot emphasize this one more. Consistency is king!

Don’t confuse talking for selling & selling for talking

Selling is trying to move someone to a decision. We hate closing because this is the “moment of truth”.

We are afraid to do it because it’s easier to say “they loved it but need to think more”. Learn to ask early and ask often. Expect the no and embrace it. Don’t delay it.

Be upfront to see if they want to buy. If they are unsure, then explain “You seem like smart people and I don’t want to waste your time.” and come back to the question towards the end of your pitch.

Make sure you ask what it takes to close. If they say you don’t have X, Y and Z then say “if I get you X, Y and Z will you buy?”. Boom!

Fear, we are all afraid

Fear, the feeling of emotion, is the same feeling in everything, it’s just context.

The difference between a hero & a coward is they both feel fear, but the hero acts despite his fear.

We are all afraid.

On Procrastination

A feature of being human. When you don’t feel like doing something tell yourself

“shut up and do it anyways.” — you don’t have to feel like it. Get over yourself and do it.

“Emotional Alchemy” — learn to deal with them so they don’t stop you from doing amazing things.

Video of Steli teaching how to Show up, Follow up & then Close

Got any sales tips you want to share here? Write below!

~ Ernest

Thanks to Dmitry Birulia (IQBOXY — YC W17), Urszula Semerda, Andrzej Bakonski and Steli Efti for reading drafts of this.

Hiring & Closing like a Champion

This is the full post from StartupDigest: Hiring Hacks for Founders. Organized by StartupDigest University, the insider’s guide to the startup world.

Russell Fradin, Investor & CEO of Dynamic Signal

Russell Fradin, Investor & CEO of Dynamic Signal

About Russell:

  • Russ Fradin co-founded Adify with Larry Braitman and Rick Thompson.
  • Most recently, Fradin was the SVP of business development for, the internet’s largest seller of wine, where he was responsible for creating new revenue channels for the business.
  • Before joining, Fradin was the EVP of corporate development for comScore Networks. He began at comScore in 2000 before comScore signed its first customer and was responsible for starting many of the company’s businesses as well as structuring strategic alliances.
  • Fradin began his career at Flycast Communications and had a number of roles during his four-year tenure, finally serving as Flycast/Engage’s VP of business development.
  • He holds a BS from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The presentation notes:

  • Inability to recruit & retain talent is one of the main reasons startups fail.
  • Company changes due to better people, not you.
  • Working at a start-up:
    • It’s a lifestyle decision.
    • Don’t hire assholes – it gets harder to close good talent. Consider partnering with agence intérim marseille to streamline your recruitment process.
    • Exits are great but nothing beats March 9.
    • Be more intellectually fulfilled.

Best way to close talented people

  • Be organised, diligent and respectful on every touch point. Make sure that when you close that person they will want to work with you.
  • Design a labour hire process that encourages a “yes”.
  • Transparency on timing, compensation and equity.
  • Look for the right person (recall March 9) rather than filling head count.


  • Don’t over-promise (promotion, raise, valuation, responsibility etc)
  • Your selling a growth plan – use your examples of growth.
  • Make your jobs sound cool.
  • Remember hiring someone great BEGINS the process.
  • The more information you give people the better since both parties need to find the right fit. Therefore find out what “they” need and want in life. Find a match between your and their career growth.
  • Sell vision, team and culture.
  • Great employees are worth your company. That’s what these company acquisition are, talent acquisitions.


  • Remember, people work for people. They do not work for companies.
  • Networking helps by attending social events.
  • Hire 1st a couple of great people and look after them well. They will help you drive forward and get more like-minded people on board.
  • The hardest thing to do is get someone great with their own great idea to work on your great idea. Give them time and try again.

Happy hiring!

Other StartupDigest Seminars covered by Ernest Semerda:

~ Ernest

Linked mentioned in this post