What Is Sales?
A common misconception is that a salesperson meets with a customer and talks about the startup’s product or service—with no more to the process than that. False.
Everyone must know how to sell, regardless of their job function. If you are presenting to investors, you’re engaging in sales. If you are presenting your technology at a conference, you’re working as a salesperson by building credibility for your startup, the product, and the dev team. If you’re having a discussion with a potential customer, you’re selling the product. If you’re interviewing a job candidate, you’re selling the company. Everyone sells in many ways, and it’s not a thoughtless process.
Most early-stage startup teams are composed of mainly technical people—I’m amazed by how many startups don’t have people for marketing or sales. The most common excuse is that their budgets do not allow them to hire anyone or would be better used for something else. By neglecting these important areas, you’re setting your company up to fail.
Social media has brought about the notion of “going viral.” Many founders say they want to use a viral approach for building sales. This is a new way of saying “If I build it, they will come.” They plan on throwing a “sales and marketing” label on their social media accounts and calling it a day. While there are rare exceptions, odds are your product is not going to go viral. Sales is not that easy!
Sales is a structured, orchestrated process. It systematically researches potential customers, seeks them out, attempts to understand their concerns, presents the product as a solution to the customer’s problem in a manner that is satisfactory to the decision makers, and negotiates a purchase. Good salespeople don’t just wing it. A lot of time is spent investigating each prospect and landing sales.