When you first launch your product it is very tempting to start looking your first sales person.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the foreseeable future, your first sales hire needs to be you!
Why the founder is the first and best salesperson
As a startup founder you are the most qualified to be the sales person for your business because:
- Your vision brought your startup product into existence. Your vision and passion for what you are selling will be very persuasive with potential customers.
- As the one that built the product, you know more about the problem and the solution than every one else. Your insight will also help in sales.
- As your product is maturing, it will benefit from you speaking with as many sales prospects as possible.
Common Misconceptions about founders selling
- I don't have time to sell! Product sales is the one thing that will make or break your business. Make the focus on relying on sales revenue (not external investment) fund your business.
- I am a tech person! I am most valuable to the business building features, not selling to customers Anyone can afford to do 2 hours / day of outbound sales and meetings.
- No your don't get it... I am really not a sales person! Then you should not be in a startup! Sales is about helping customers make progress in their lives via a commercial transaction. Read the book, To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
Common reasons why hiring sales too early will fail
- Your product offering and positioning is not mature enough. Your new sales person has an uphill battle to get traction and is unsuccessful
- You cannot afford a highly skilled sales person. When your startup is small, you will be tempted to hire someone on sales commission (no base salary). Getting sales for your startup may take several months (or more) to get traction. Can you convince someone to work without pay for months? Even if you offer them equity it may still not be enough. A highly skilled sales person can easily get a more high paying job with a high base and commissions on top! Most startups who hire sales people with a combination of commission (and equity) usually fails.
- Fewer Customers makes it difficult for your sales person to be successful. Good sales people are excellent at identifying what sales tactics works within a company and copying it. You are creating a massive obstacle in front of your customers when they don't have examples to follow.
When is the right time to hire your first sales person?
The amount varies for each startup.
In my humble opinion (IMHO) your goal should be to reach $1M in sales, before contemplating hiring sales people. By that time you will be much more successful in hiring sales people.
You cannot outsource the sales responsibility to anyone else!
Startup Sales Coach is designed to help all startup founder to be more successful in sales!