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Should Founders be Operating in a Sales Role?

Business Tips

Hub Australia

10th April 2018

Anthony from run_frictionless educates founders from early-stage startups on why they need to scale themselves out of their initial sales roles.

This topic is also covered in-depth in his new book, ‘run_frictionless’, helping founders work towards sales systems with the goal of reliable and predictable sales.

As founders add new members to their business, a headache can erupt. No matter how many times founders explain the brand and message, there’s always a chance it can get lost in translation.

Read more: 7 Sales Tips Every Small Business Owner Should Know

In larger organisations, similar problems exist. A few top salespeople outperform the remaining team consistently, with their sales processes often remaining secret.

Salespeople are reluctant to share deals with others in their team, either because they lack skills to teach or fear others will lose the customer, leading them to insist on managing the customer through the entire sales cycle.

“In the past man has been first; in the future, the system must be first”, Frederick W Taylor, Scientific Management, 1911

Four reasons it’s essential to scale a founder out of a sales role:

#1: The founder competes with the organisation

The role of a founder is to lead the company.

If the founder is in a position where they’re actively competing against their sales team, the team struggles to view the founder as a leader. Founders can’t simultaneously compete with and lead the organisation – the two roles conflict.

To lead, founders need to be looked upon as supportive and understanding. Sales roles encourage individualistic behaviour.

Read more: 5 Tips for Creating Outstanding Customer Experiences

#2: The founder’s executive role suffers

A founder can end up neglecting their main role, with the focus taken from the essentials to keep the business running day-to-day.

The organisation can appear healthy because sales targets are met, but company culture could fall apart.

The sales team is one of many departments the founder needs to spend time developing.

Finance, human resources, company vision, and strategic planning need equal attention.

#3:  Founders are biased towards high touch

One reason founders can be perceived in a sales role is because they engage in high touch activity called personal selling. Lunches, breakfasts, impromptu meetings – all are difficult to scale because they cannot be measured.

These customer interactions aren’t recorded and it becomes difficult to later teach others the formula. Most startups are also trying to reduce the cost of acquisition by designing low touch customer interactions.

Read more: 5 Common Mistakes Startups Make In Structuring For Scale

#4: Founders are biased towards future sell

Part of a founder’s role is to share the company vision, making the future tangible by bringing it into the present.

All founders exude a degree of reality distortion – their aim is to create a world that doesn’t yet exist.

Company vision can go wrong when founders operate in the sales role with their mind in a ‘bigger picture’ mode. If the founder is at altitude delivering company vision, they come down to earth to make a sale.

The sale is where the rubber meets the road. Performing both can see visionary and sales messages combine, such that staff and customers think the product of the future is here, rather than setting realistic expectations.

The effect of company vision is profound, the effect of future sell is lethal.

Future sell commits the company to building a feature tomorrow, in order to make a sale today.

To read more about scaling your startup and creating your own sales systems, reserve your copy of Anthony’s new book, ‘run_frictionless’.

If you want to join a coworking space focused on helping you grow your business, book your tour to visit a Hub Australia location near you.

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