Not a Necessary Evil: Why Founders Should Embrace Sales

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My uncle loves storytelling. He once told me about something that happened to him while he was job hunting. 

During this time, he had the chance to talk with a startup tech founder who gave him the highest position in sales as the organization did not have a sales team.

(😨 this was the face I made when he told me this)

I never paid much attention to the story until I had the chance to chat with several startup tech founders at a seminar. 

They all said that they did not have a sales department.   

 

This made me wonder if it was the trend with tech founders. 

In 2016, Slack CEO, Steward Butterfield said 

“I think we can get away without having a sales team in any kind of traditional way, probably forever.”

Shocked? Surprised? 

Can you imagine my dread after reading that back in 2016 when I was just starting in sales? 

Have you ever experienced this?

Raise your hand if a founder has ever shut you down because they did not have a sales team? 

I bet some of you would raise both your hands and even your feet, because it is something you resonate with dearly. 

(I bet some of you even raised your hands like this)

Well, that’s the world we live in, folks.

Most founders believe that if they build a great product, said products will automatically sell out. 

This strategy may work out for a while, but the downside is, it is not a permanent solution. 

So if you are a tech founder and you do not yet have a sales team, this one’s for you.

Statements Tech Founders Have Made Regarding Sales


Before I tell you the whys, I’ll tell you what some tech founders say about salespeople; some say that they are pushy or that they are manipulative. 


Alex Karp, CEO at Palantir, said that he’d only hire a sales team if the investors forced him. 


And he’s not the only one who shares these views: 76% of founders agree with him. They fail to see that both tech and sales can work harmoniously to produce a great thing. 

Reasons Why Startups Fail


 Highlighting why startups fail will give us a glimpse of why you should use a sales team in your organization. 




This visual says it all, 42% of startups fail because they fail to meet the market need. Here are other reasons why startups fail:

  • Most founders do not have skills in sales. 

To sell a product or service, you first have to understand what the customer is thinking. 

This will help you have the stats of the buyer’s journey.

You’ll find that most founders do not have any training in sales. Therefore they may fail to understand how the sales funnel works. 

Without proper guidance from a sales team, the startup may fail. 

  • Startups hardly plan sales meetings well enough. 

 Founders tend to rush into meetings trying to sell their products without assessing the client’s needs. 

They may fail to follow up or engage with prospects. And if there is no great plan, the startup is likely to shut down. 

  • Failing to put all efforts into sales

Most founders tend to use business accelerators which hardly help to accelerate sales. 

They may spend much of their time on the business model. This is okay, but it will pose a great failure to the startup. 

Importance Of A Sales Team To A Tech Company

Now that we have highlighted why startups tend to fail, here are some reasons why you should embrace sales at your tech company. 


Having A Sales Team Helps Improve Cross-Functional Collaboration


  • It takes a village to raise a child.


That quote best exemplifies why you need a cross-functional team. Founders view their company as their little bundle of joy. 


It isn’t easy to raise it on your own, and this is why you need other departments to help you. 


The main goal of every business is to make profits, right? You can’t make a profit if you are not selling your products. 


If all departments do not work together to help satisfy the customers, the company may fail.


“Cohesion across departments gets you great results.”


  • How To Build A Cross-Functional Team


Here are a few ideas you can use to help create a cross-functional team in your organization:


  • Encourage diversity 


A diversified organization helps promote better retention of employment, innovation, decision-making, and creativity. 


  • Come up with activities that will help bring people together 


You could choose snack areas where all employees can gather and talk with each other. 

You could also choose to have monthly lunch dates with different departments. Also, having volunteer opportunities will work perfectly. 


  • Create goals that reward cross-functionality 


Most companies create incentives under goals relating to particular departments. ‘


Instead of this, make sure that you design incentives that are around your company-wide goals. That way, everyone will work together and still feed your vision. 


  • Create a culture of accountability 


Everyone wants to feel like they matter. With this, you should cultivate a culture of taking care of your employees, and they will take care of your customers. 



  • Having an effective sales team will help you have an improved customer experience.

Most sales representatives are good at building relationships with customers. 


Having a great relationship with the customers will help you understand their pain, goals, and needs. 


(Have you ever noticed that there is usually a considerable gap between the needs of the customer and the product designed?)  Do you remember the chart in the “reasons why startups fail”? Startups fail because they do not understand the market need.


(A chart showing that most businesses fail because they don’t understand market need)


So how can you understand the market need without engaging the customers? Having a great sales team will help you reap the benefits.


Better customer service = attracting more customers


  • It is hard to maximize growth and revenue without sales

Most founders often make use of the “bottom-up” strategy. 


They design a great product, let it out there, and let the customers come to them.



Typically this approach may work out during the early stages, but eventually, growth will taper off. 


Here is an example to help you see this method hardly works: Twilio is a cloud communication platform. 


When they first launched their platform, they had slow, steady growth until Q2 2017. For the most part of the year, their stock price ranged at 30$. 


When they decided to incorporate a sales department, they had generated $399M in revenue, a 44% increase from 2016. 


In 2018 their income shot up by 66%, and they had generated $650M. Fast forward to now, their stock price is $250.


Conclusion

From the example above, it is clear collaborating on product and sales helps deliver great results. 


So why not use a sales team and see your company change for the better!


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