I had just a bit of experience in B2B sales at the beginning of Righthello, but I still managed to close our first 10 deals. That made me think I had a rare natural talent. It took me a while to find the real reason why I was able to convince clients.
Closing deals doesn’t make you a master salesman. If you’re a business founder and start thinking that way, be careful – there’s trouble ahead.
You enter the danger zone when you start believing that you don’t need an experienced specialist to grow your sales team – you’ll just (waste a lot of time) train reps yourself. I’ve seen many companies get hurt because of this.
Luckily (and I’m super proud of this) when I reached a dangerous point doing sales on my own, I got Bartosz on-board as the Head of Sales. He was already experienced in IT sales, and definitely saved me a lot of problems.
The point is to close deals, doesn’t it mean I’m a pro when I can make it happen?
You might not realise it, but you have a pretty heavy toolbelt for negotiating with potential clients. Even if you haven’t read one book about B2B sales, being the founder gives you many advantages over regular sales reps.
It’s nice to think you have superpowers, but (sorry to dissapoint you) none of your hired salespeople will have those advantages – their job will be a lot harder.
In party terms, you’re the hottest guy to talk to in the club. Salespeople would be the less attractive friends who have to be funny as hell to get attention.
What gives you an edge?
Founders have a great background for sales:
Salespeople are often seen as tricksters that work for profit – that’s rooted deeply in our culture. This image has been cultivated for a long time by mainstream media and dishonest salesguys.
Founders are seen as experts and advisors. Prospects open up to you more easily – out of simple curiosity, or to benefit from your expertise.
You believe in your solution and honestly want to help customers, no bullshit.
- Knowledge of customer pains
After all, you’re the one who created a solution for those pains. It’s easier for you to empathise.
- Full company insight
You know exactly where your company is at the moment, what you can offer and how effectively you can do it. More importantly, you know what will change in 3, 6, 12 months. You’ll often be selling the future version, not what you have right now.
You have to leave the stage at some point
“I can sell, I’ll just teach reps and mentor them and they will be great”
When you feel like you “know sales”, the worst next step is to hire inexperienced newbies and teach them.
You can’t effectively teach sales without experience. Whatever helped you convince customers is basically unteachable. Assuming you were never interested in sales, you also don’t know any conventional sales strategy or approach.
Try to take yourself through that in your mind – teaching something you’re not actually good at.
Founders that close the first deals for their company can learn a lot, plus it’s much more effective than hiring a sales rep from the start. You’ll benefit from it, but it can’t be your main priority for long.
To make sure things don’t fall apart once you start scaling up – find an experienced closer to take care of the sales side of your business.
In summary – what does all this mean?
- Founders can successfuly close deals – but this doesn’t make them experts at sales.
- Don’t try to create a sales team yourself while also taking care of the rest of the company.
- Look for someone with actual sales experience who knows how to create and run a proper sales team.
I’ve seen founders try to build a sales team without expertise or experience. As a founder, you don’t need special skills to close deals – but you do need them to create an effective team. It’s better to rely on someone’s experience, than untested ideas.