Beware of Stealth Objections
Why do many brilliant, determined SaaS founders struggle to achieve product-market-fit (PMF)?
I think one common thread is the challenge of getting “An Honest No” - that is, to get over the emotional sting of a “no” and hone in on a prospect’s underlying motivations.
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But even a founder fully focused on feedback must contend with another challenge: often, a prospect won’t voluntarily mention all of their major reasons for saying “no.”
Beware of stealth objections!
I speak from experience.
In my M&A career advising bootstrappers, hearing a “no” from a prospect was a regular part of business.
While the typical funded tech startup would be open with objections around cost, some bootstrappers would not mention cost even when it was a major consideration.
Over time, we learned how address to this by (1) adjusting our pricing strategy and (2) walking early when we could tell the economics wouldn’t work out.
But cost isn’t the only potential stealth objection.
For example, sometimes someone working for the prospect gains from the same sub-par status quo that a startup’s solution fixes - that gain is the stealth objection.
This can be hard to sniff out & even harder to overcome.
Often, the best solution for a startup facing this type of stealth objection is to focus on prospects that don’t have an in-grained status quo, such as growth stage startups.
While selling to other startups can have risks, an underrated benefit is that their fast-pace makes them significantly less likely to have stealth objections.
This is an under-appreciated strategy credit for large networks of startups such as YC.