Startup Sales
Founder selling, learning from mistakes – Tukan Das
November 6, 2018
Final Five What is your favorite sales or leadership book? The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz Do you have someone that you follow/read for sales/leadership ideas? John Barrows, Reid Hoffman, Ben Horowitz Are you available 24/7? Do you have strict personal time boundaries? No strict boundaries What is your favorite tool used for sales? What one piece of advice do you have for all the founders/CEOs/VP Sales out there? You can not change the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand. Show Notes Tukan learned the hard way that you have to clearly articulate your value proposition to the client, not just your features. Early on he found that it is important to ask the right follow up questions. Even if you feel like you connected it is a must to really understand if they understand what you are selling. Selling is not you, the sales person, talking and the client listening. It is the other way around. The clients should be talking while the sales person listens and asks engaging questions. Let the client tell you what their problem is. They do not care how your product works and how pretty it is, only that it solves their problem. The founder needs to be the first sales person and close some deals at the start before brining on a salesperson because you need to be able to know that the product is saleable and how the sales cycle looks. Also, in the early days as the product is not mature, no one has more passion than the founder to be able to sell a “work in progress”. By doing the sales himself at first, he was able to point the salesperson in the right direction by telling him who the right buyer persona is that is most likely to buy, here are the typical objections, this is the price point, etc. When hiring, you want someone who is entrepreneurial and knows the risks with joining an early stage startup because you do not know what will be tomorrow and you do not know what changes will have to be made. In the interview he explains that he is not looking for someone that will put in a lot of extra hours, in fact if they can get the job done in 30 hours a week that is okay. However he does ask that if in the evening a client comes through the chat and you are the only person available and it is not work hours, will you help this person. You can not expect the people you hire to have the same passion as you (the founder) right away. You need to cultivate it so that they pass it on. Communication is key for the culture of a company. If the founder takes a decision on behalf of the company, even with the best intentions, it can hurt the team as they do not feel involved. The most important thing when adding people to your team is that there is no room for ego. You do not want brilliant jerks on your team. If you are trying to land a large company, do not develop special features for them until you get a commitment from them, otherwise you are hurting the culture of your dev teams.