Every startup employee should be a salesperson
No matter how innovative the idea or disruptive the technology is, startups are in the business of selling. A business in its simplest form is a calculation of revenue and expenses, and, as our friend Jeffrey Carter says, “No profit or path to profit means it’s a hobby.”
Building an organization of salespeople is the only surefire way to walk on the path to profit. Yes, selling will look different for each person on your team. You don’t need to expect your full-stack developer to land you new accounts. However, you should expect every employee to do their work with sales in mind.
Here’s how a sales mentality can play out for each member on your team:
As is the case with most parts of the business, founders wear the most hats when it comes to sales. Founders should know their product well enough to be able to take over a sales meeting if the sales representative is running late. Founders lead the pitch for investors, selling the reasons why their company is worth investing in.
Equally important, but often overlooked, founders need to sell their startup’s culture to current and prospective employees. Every company has two brands- a customer facing brand and an employment brand. The employment brand attracts potential employees and retains current employees by creating a work environment that cannot be beat. After all, companies get the best return out of employees who actually enjoy coming to work each day.
Every aspect of a founder’s job meets at the bottom line of selling the company: as the best product or service, the best investment, or the best place to work.
Customer experience interactions answer the question, “Does this company actually deliver on its promises?” The best customer experience reps not only deliver on the promises, they over deliver because fantastic customer experiences are one of the best sales pitches that any company can make. Harness the customer experience team to turn customers into brand advocates.
A sales mentality for the technology team looks like data-driven, human centered design. It’s easy to get caught up in developing an innovative functionality for a product. However, if that functionality is not meeting or anticipating a user’s need, it’s not valuable. Make the sales process easier from the start by building a product that customers will want to buy and use.
Marketing and Business Development
Marketers and business developers are the storytellers, the relationship builders, the promise makers, and the deal closers. These functions are what traditionally come up in a conversation about startup sales.
To build a successful brand, their work must exist in the context of an organization of sales-minded employees. Sales cannot just be for the marketers and the salespeople. Empower your employees to sell and watch your startup reap the benefits.