The Impact of Sales Complexity and the Evaporative Cooling Effect on Startup Viability


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 24, 2023

4 min read


The Impact of Sales Complexity and the Evaporative Cooling Effect on Startup Viability


When it comes to running a successful startup, entrepreneurs must consider various factors that can impact their viability. Two key factors to consider are the complexity of the sales process and the phenomenon known as the Evaporative Cooling Effect in social networks. In this article, we will explore how these factors can affect a startup's ability to make money, attract investors, and maintain the quality of its community. We will also provide actionable advice for entrepreneurs to navigate these challenges effectively.

Sales Complexity and Its Impact on Viability:

For entrepreneurs, it is crucial to ensure that the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer exceeds the cost of customer acquisition (CAC). However, the complexity of the sales process can significantly influence this equation. As the sales complexity increases, so does the CAC, making it harder for startups to generate profits and attract customers. Different sales models, such as inside sales, field sales, and channel sales, have varying levels of complexity and associated costs. It is important for entrepreneurs to understand the implications of each model and consider ways to reduce sales complexity to improve viability.

Factors Affecting Buyer Decision-making:

Apart from sales complexity, other factors related to the buyer can make it harder for startups to sell their products. These factors include low customer pain and a lack of urgency. To overcome these challenges, startups must focus on providing value, addressing customer pain points, and creating a sense of urgency to resolve their problems. By understanding these driving forces and incorporating them into their business strategies, startups can increase their chances of success.

The Unprofitable Zone and Strategies for Success:

Startups that fall below the line of profitability are likely to struggle in the market. The Unprofitable Zone refers to situations where buyers are not willing to pay enough to cover sales and marketing costs. To avoid this zone, startups can explore strategies such as leveraging strategic partners for reselling their products, adopting freemium models, or implementing no-touch self-service approaches. These strategies can help startups move into more profitable zones and improve their chances of success.

The Evaporative Cooling Effect in Social Networks:

In social networks, the Evaporative Cooling Effect describes the phenomenon where high-value contributors leave a community, leading to a decrease in its overall quality. As a community expands and new members join, the rate of high-quality contributors may decrease, diluting the community's quality. Slowing down this trend is crucial for maintaining the quality of the community and preventing its decline.

Strategies to Counter the Evaporative Cooling Effect:

To counter the Evaporative Cooling Effect, communities can implement social gating, which restricts entry to users without relevant knowledge or cancels inactive user accounts. Charging a fee for membership also helps to maintain the quality of a community as it filters out users who are not genuinely interested. Additionally, giving high status to special contributors can incentivize them to stay and continue contributing, thus preserving the community's quality.

Balancing Expansion and Quality:

The structure of a community can also impact its scalability and stability. Communities with a plaza-like structure, where information is public and easy to access, are more scalable but susceptible to the Evaporative Cooling Effect. On the other hand, communities with a warren-like structure, featuring personalized content and a more private nature, are less scalable but tend to be more stable. Entrepreneurs must consider the trade-off between expansion and quality and choose a structure that aligns with their goals.

Actionable Advice for Entrepreneurs:

  • 1. Understand your sales complexity: Evaluate your sales process and identify areas of complexity that may increase costs. Look for ways to streamline the process and reduce the need for extensive human touch.
  • 2. Focus on value, pain, and urgency: Ensure that your product or service provides value to customers, addresses their pain points, and creates a sense of urgency to resolve their problems.
  • 3. Embrace innovative business models: Explore strategies such as freemium models, strategic partnerships, or no-touch self-service approaches to increase profitability and customer acquisition.


Navigating sales complexity and the Evaporative Cooling Effect is essential for startup viability. By understanding these factors and implementing effective strategies, entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success. Reducing sales complexity, focusing on value and urgency, and maintaining the quality of their communities can help startups thrive in a competitive market.

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