Make your Strategy for Startup Growth in the Early Days
How you should think about your strategy in the early days of your startup
One of the most many tricky paths startup founders need to tread carefully is sales.
Your first salesperson is you
A common mistake founders often fall for is to hire for a sales position prematurely in their startup’s journey. A more sensible approach in the early days of a startup is for the Founder/CEO to handle the sales personally. If we think about the future of the company, it only makes sense for a CEO to know the ins and outs of the sales process that is unique to their product.
Moreover, any conversation a founder engages in either investors or later with their teams also puts the desirability and feasibility of the product to test.
Beyond building the relationship between the product and the investors or employees, the founder’s role requires them to position themselves right in the midst of the product and the market—bridging the two. So, what is required for a founder to steer the company’s sales strategy not only requires them to imagine multiple paths for the product future, but also requires them to strategize how to take it to the market.
Hiring the first sales team member
In my experience, another commonly made mistake is to directly hire a salesperson before setting up a sales development funnel. An effective way of getting started with building that funnel is to have a dedicated person in the team who could help the CEO with the sales operation. Simply put, someone who can support the CEO with all tasks prior to the actual sales pitch. It is important that this person has some flexibility in their role to cater to the emerging organizational shifts that startups often encounter. By creating such a position, you would also be laying down the foundation for when you hire for your first real sales position and will be setting up your sales team for quicker success at considerably lower risk.
When should you start selling?
Most startup founders start pitching their product as they start pitching their startup. This may not be the case for some startups but it is understandable for these two pitches to be intertwined for the better of the first phase of a startup.
In my experience, there is no need to wait for your product to be market ready to start selling it. One main reason is this: As you try to sell your product, you will get invaluable insight from your prospective customers. As you collect these insights, you start understanding your target customers better. This way, you will get a great chance to refine your go to market strategy.
As a founder, every single conversation you are having with the people around you is a great opportunity to test if people are associating value with your product or idea the same way you are. If people are using your product, that means you have already started some sort of a value exchange between your product and people. But, in order to convert these people into customers, you need to prove that your product is also worth people’s money.