Founders know that to have success, they need to sell — a lot. And quickly. Which is why their first hire is usually a salesperson. They want an expert to capitalize on any traction or buzz their early stage company has. Whitney Sales, General Partner at Acceleprise Ventures and creator of The Sales Method, joined Helping Sells podcast this week to talk about early-stage companies and why founders must learn to love selling.
Before anything else, founders must learn to sell
This is one of the fundamental mistakes many founders make today, according to Whitney. A founder must be able to sell the product they're developing, but also:
Pitch investors for additional funding,
Convince "rock stars" to join the team,
Discover objections prospects and customers might have to their product,
Uncover pricing strategies, and
Learn how to market the product.
Getting founders involved in the selling process is critical, Whitney says, because they can see for themselves what tactics work and what don't, enabling them to refine their process across all phases of the company. Before it becomes too large and change becomes difficult for the organization.
"Understand the DNA of your organization and what your customer acquisition process is like before hiring individual functions." - Whitney Sales
Sales won't happen through marketing alone
That said, some founders insist that marketing alone will be enough to sell the product, because the product is perfect just the way it is. In the B2B market, Whitney reminds them, there are no "overnight" success stories or viral B2B products that take the market by storm. That's not the way this particular market works.
To ensure their success, founders must develop a repeatable, scalable sales process for their early stage company. They can do that by:
Identifying their target market.
Conducting prospect and customer interviews to discover their pain points.
Learning the true value of your product in helping customers overcome those pain points.
Discovering which marketing channels are the best for reaching prospects and customers.
Learning what steps your target customers must go through in order to purchase your product. This is especially critical if you are selling in the B2B enterprise market.
Founders will learn much more about their products and how customers use it only when they speak to customers, which they won't do if they immediately hire a salesperson or marketer. "You can create as much awareness as you want around a product, but if you’re not speaking the same language or identified the right pain points, you will not be as successful," Whitney said in a related post.
"Seeing success through the growth of your customer base is one of the most exciting things you can have." - Whitney Sales
To listen to the entire conversation we had with Whitney, check out the latest episode of Helping Sells here, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
If you liked this episode, you may like these episodes too: