10 tips for Founders doing Sales (from a Founder)
The most important things I learned since I started doing sales (I had 0 experience)
I have a technical background (I am a Physicist by training) and had 0 experience when I first started doing sales. Over the past years I have talked with many founders about sales and growth and noticed that we were all struggling with the same problems. I thought I would share the 10 most important things I personally learned and other founders have shared with me over the years.
1. Be passionate about the product you're selling.
As cliché as this might sound it's the most important thing when it comes to sales. Your enthusiasm comes across in all of your interactions with prospects and customers. If you are passionate and truly believe in what you are building and selling then everything else becomes much easier. A lot of sales is about transferring enthusiasm!
2. Get to know your customers before selling to them.
The easiest way to go about this is to solve your own problem. If you are solving your own problem then you are a customer of the solution you are building. If this is not the case then do some market prospecting and get initial feedback from the companies and people whom you believe would benefit the most from the solution you are building. Gather this feedback and build your ideal customer profile.
3. Don't oversell. Don't commit to things you cannot deliver on.
Overselling will result in a lot of headaches and retention problems. Don't promise features you are not planning to build and align your prospects expectations with.
4. Learn from others.
Ask for demos of competitor products and other tools you are thinking about buying. You can learn from what they do well (setting an agenda at the beginning of a call, building rapport, following up, ...) and not so well (rambling, being late for meetings, being too aggressive, ...) and apply those learnings to your own sales process.
5. Listen and improve your pitch.
Listen! You will get a lot of feedback from customers during your first calls, use that feedback to make adjustments to your messaging and improve your pitch. Record your demos and listen to them. You will find a lot of annoying aspects in the way you talk and you will refine these over time.
6. Persevere! Always remember to follow up.
Sales can be a grind and it's especially tough if you have never done it before. You will be faced with rejection and get let down every single day. Let go of your ego and don't take feedback personally. Persevere!
7. You won't close all deals.
You will not be able to close all of your deals. Take notes for the lost deals in a structured way so you can analyse the percentage that fell out of the funnel due to timing, pricing, competitors, etc... Nurture the closed lost deals by sharing new features and revisit them every quarter.
8. Be fair when referring to competitors.
Your prospects are smart and most of them know the market as well as you do. You don't need to trash talk or belittle your competitors. Focus on your own message and what makes you different.
9. Fire bad customers.
Bad customers will take a lot of your time and might steer your product/company in the wrong direction. As a founder letting a customer go is not an easy decision but sometimes it's just best to part ways.
10. Celebrate the wins. 🎉
Celebrate every new customer! It's easy to get too ingrained in the daily grind of sales and building a company and forget to celebrate the wins. Celebrate every win with your co-founders and your team.
As a founder you are faced with the challenges of selling a product that is not supported by any brand awareness and is most likely half complete. Even if you have never sold before, you can still be 10x better than they are as a salesperson if you believe in your product and your mission.
Good luck! 🍀
My name is Mica and I am a founder at:
Amplemarket (YC backed all-in-one B2B sales platform)
Fermat’s Library (a platform for illuminating academic papers).
I am Physicist by training. Y Combinator Alumnus. If you want to talk startups, sales, growth or science feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙂