Updated 27 November 18
Many founders feel like they need a sales team to be taken seriously by prospective buyers and investors, but we can assure you this isn’t the case. The easy reason behind this would be to say “it costs too much”, but that isn’t the case either. You as a founder are the quintessential reason your business exists, and you can sell that. Let’s go through some reasons why the founder is perfect for sales.
Selling is a great opportunity to attain the instant feedback you need to grow and improve quickly. Every time you sell, you can gather intuitive feedback through body language and engagement. When you’re talking to someone, you can see at what point they lose focus, get bored, and when they ask questions. You’ll be able to tell whether they are really interested in your offering at all. These are all things that can help you learn more about your product face-to-face than any polished sales pitch could ever do.
Every time you share your idea, whether that’s talking with a colleague, a potential investor or new recruits, you’ve been selling. You’re a small company and nobody knows anything about you right now, so you’ve had to convince people about your ambition already.
As the founder of a company, you have the authority to pivot to the needs of potential investors and customers. If one of your key stakeholders asks for a feature that you don’t currently have on offer, a sales team would have to respond with something generic like, “We hadn’t thought of that, we’ll let the product team know and see how it goes”. But a founder has the responsibility and the flexibility to say, “Yes, we’re working on that, we’ll keep you updated as we develop” and pivot based on enquiries.
If you were to write a script for your hypothetical sales team right now, what would it say? At an early stage, you’re still discovering the key value proposition of your business. What customers and investors will connect with is a personable, passionate founder who shares their problem, not a well-polished sales team.
A common misconception from founders is that a sales team adds legitimacy to a business and a CEO shouldn’t be on the road trying to sell the business, however, it’s the polar opposite. Leaving your comfort zone to sell your idea to users can be awkward and confusing, but having a disconnected sales team trying to sell something that lacks a full concept right now might be quite embarrassing. A CEO going out and selling the business doesn’t show weakness, it shows passion for their startup.
Are you passionate about a business idea, but need some guidance to take it further?