Why Selling is the Most Important Skill for Gen Z Founders to Develop
Outsourcing early startup sales is almost always a mistake.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a young inventor with a product that was almost ready to go to market. He was hoping I would be able to introduce him to investors so that he could afford to hire a salesperson to market his invention to consumers. My advice? Sell the product yourself. Founders need to be their startup’s first salespeople.
In my opinion founders need to be their startup’s first salespeople. Early interaction with customers can provide invaluable market research. You’ll quickly be able to ascertain if you’re pricing your product correctly. You’ll get immediate feedback in regards to your product’s quality and features. You’ll be hearing ALL of the objections first hand and will be able to address them immediately. If you hire a salesperson and they’re struggling they’ll explain to you that the price is too high, the quality isn’t up to snuff, and the product is missing important features — they might be right, but they might be making excuses for their own failure — you avoid these pitfalls by selling your product yourself.
Throughout the sales process you’re going to determine what tools are needed to sell your product. Will you need a video? Slick graphics? Trade show booths? All of the above? You will be able to determine the viability of the marketing materials and scripts you have built — modifying them in real time. You’ll be able to determine the best go-to-market strategy from cold calling to direct sales. All of these things need to be in place before hiring your first salesperson — if you hire someone BEFORE you build these tools you’re simply wasting time and money.
Finally, good salespeople have jobs and they’re making a LOT of money. They’re going to be very expensive. In my experience, startup salespeople will be the highest paid employees in your organization — making more money than you. Good salespeople won’t leave their lucrative sales jobs to join a startup that lacks any sort of sales traction. If you find someone that is looking for work it is almost an absolute certainty that they’re not a very good salesperson.
There is no easy answer. If you’ve built a product you’ve got to sell it. Selling is hard work. It is a LOT like raising money. If you can’t sell your product there is little to no chance than you’ll be successful raising money. Selling is key to being a startup founder — you’ve got to sell your co-founders and employees on your startup, you’ve got to sell your investors on your startup, and you’ve got to sell your customers on your product. The best salesperson is never going to be as good as you selling your product.
About The Author
Alexander Muse is a serial entrepreneur, author of the StartupMuse and Sous Vide Science, contributor to Forbes and managing partner of Sumo. Check out his podcast on iTunes. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.