Selling is 90% of a founder's job
Founder of The Sales Method, Consultant, Growth Expert
Companies should think about selling from day one.
Sales means sharing your passion about what you have made.
Order of importance: the customer, the value, the benefit, then the feature.
Lesson: Sales Market Fit with Whitney Sales
Step #2 Founder Selling: Selling is 90% of a founder's job
When we look at when a company should start thinking about selling, it's from day one. It's that sales market fit mentality that I was talking about. So it's a founder understanding that there is an opportunity available for the market and looking at the short-term, the mid-term, and the long-term sales for their business and who to develop the product for first based on who's going to convert first.
So when you think about when you're going to market and targeting that specific group, you actually need to be thinking about developing for that market. You need to be thinking about how you're going to reach that market, what the price point for that product is going to be, and all of those are going to play into not only the sales process, the marketing process, but also that product development process from the very beginning of your MVP.
Because of the stereotypes that actually exist around sales, there are a lot of negative beliefs around it. Founder selling itself is sharing your passion of what their business is about with their customers. It's understanding what a sales process looks like and what the customer’s needs are.
There are a number of important elements that actually come into founder selling. As an executive within a business, 90% of your job is actually going to be selling. You're selling to your venture capitalists around what your product actually is, what your market is, who you are, and what the value behind those are. You're selling to your customers. You're selling your first employees on coming into your business. It's a very important skill to actually develop as an executive. When you understand that, it's critical to also selling your customers first. It's an extension of your customer discovery process.
So if you look at developing your MVP and reaching and going after your target market, you need to understand that the product you develop actually fits that market. You did a lot of customer interviews. But when you're actually asking for money for your product, it's very different. Understanding the messaging that you're going to be delivering to your customer, understanding the price point in which you're going to be charging for that, testing out different price points, and then learning what that overall process is is mission critical.
The other element has to do with when you as a founder are selling your first customers, there's not an established market for your product. You haven't built out market knowledge about who you are or what your product offers or all the important pieces around basically building the knowledge base around your product.
When you look at the founder selling, you're sharing your passion with the customer. You're sharing your knowledge with the customer and you're really helping establish credibility for your company overall. Why would you turn that over to someone else when you're building your company?
So understanding in the qualification process the needs of the customer, so one of the things I actually get from a lot of the founders when they're starting selling is they've built out these absolutely beautiful products. They're amazing. We are all very proud of our products when we launch them. The problem with that is our customers don't quite know that pride yet. They don't know why you're so proud of your product. They don't quite understand it.
Typically, you'll find a founder who launches into features around what each individual feature is and exactly why it exists. They don't actually go into why it exists for the customer and why it's important to the customer. When I actually think about building out value-based language versus feature-based language, there's a really simple process that I think is important for founders to even take themselves through.
It's an exercise whether you have your first customer or not. It's thinking about what your customer looks like, putting yourself in the shoes of who you think your target market is. You've already gone through and defined this very clearly and you know that this company is the ideal customer. So it's taking that piece and putting yourself in the shoes of that customer.
So you go within your target market, the features you've developed for that market, the benefits, specifically, that those features cause for that specific target market, why those benefits are actually important, so actually telling the story around the importance of that benefit. It's not just, "You can see value in this." It's, "You can see value in this because when you look at how your business works, operates, and runs, this is what it's actually going to do and be a game changer for your business." And then talk about, once you have your first customers, examples of it.
The more detailed you get, the more value you're actually creating for the customer when you start to go into these stories. The importance when you language this is it's actually looking at the customer, the value, the benefit, and the features. So you lead with why. You don't lead with how, which is a really important thing.
I actually put this in an Excel spreadsheet. I detail it out. I talk about percentages. You're going to have your initial 100 customers. You should have stories at this point of what kind of benefits they saw from your product and why they saw those benefits and how it actually impacted their business. Use those. Why not? You've likely given your product away for free for a little while. You may or may not be starting to charge for it. But that's the purpose of being a beta customer, is to help these companies grow.
Sitting down and having these conversations with executives and understanding how that product has actually impacted their business from a monetary standpoint, a time-saving standpoint, these are going to be really valuable conversations when you go to actually approach and sell that customer.