Why is sales so hard for first time founders?

Starting a technology startup is no easy task, and sales can be one of the biggest challenges that first-time founders face.

From feeling attached to your product to being overwhelmed by advice, there are a number of reasons why sales can be a roadblock for new entrepreneurs.

It's a skill like any other, and like any skill that's made you successful so far, it takes time to master.

Here's our top reasons why sales can be difficult as a first time founder:

Letting go

One of the biggest challenges that first-time founders face is letting go of their product. You may feel that your product doesn't have enough features or that you need to keep adding more before reaching out to potential customers.

This can lead to a never-ending cycle of development, which can cause you to miss out on valuable opportunities to test your product in the market.

Additionally, you may have a fear of failure that is preventing you from starting outreach. You may be thinking that something will just magically happen and that the law of attraction will take care of the rest. Unfortunately, this simply isn't the case. You need to take action to make sales happen.

Finally, starting sales can feel like a mountain to climb. It's easy to push it off to the next day, but this approach will only prolong the inevitable. You need to confront your fears and start outreach as soon as possible to get your product in front of potential customers.

It's one thing to say you're agile in your process, but being agile means getting real user feedback and iterating based on that, not just friends and family!

Overwhelming advice

Maybe we're contributing here. But hear us out.

With so many people on LinkedIn offering advice, it can be difficult to know where to turn. Everyone seems like an expert.

There's so many tools, methodologies and so on it can be asy to chop and change everything you're doing, every time a new piece of advise lands on your screen.

It's important to look for advice that's relevant to your market, relevant to your level (e.g Seed, Series A and so on) and comes from recent experience as the market shifts so quickly.

Being too smart

Sometimes you're just so passionate about the product that you spew out every single detail which can turn your prospects off.

Great example of this is going on holiday

The first part is getting on a 9 hour plane ride in some horrible seats, with a crying baby nearby and a sweaty chap eating some stinky crisps

But that's not what the airlines sell you, the airlines sell you the destiantion: A beach getaway, some great food and relaxation away from work

Often the intricacies of your product, however interesting to you, sound like that plane journey to your customers.

You need to be able to articulate your product in simple terms that anyone can understand. Don't get bogged down by technical details that your customers won't care about.

Thinking anyone can do it, and then hiring someone shit / underexperienced

Most people have had experience with some pretty terrible salespeople in their time. I'm talking the guys that phone you saying “you've been in accident” or the pushy phone sellers at the EE shop. Maybe the used car dealer stereotype. The thing is we're not all like that, same way there's levels to great product and engineering people, there's a massive difference in a mediocre seller and a master seller.

Often as it's maybe a part of start-up you've had less exposure to, you don't know how to spot the red flags the same way you can other departments that you have experience with.

This can lead to making a wrong hire, and it costing big time.

Example here is my old company hired 2 VP's of sales before me, each costing about £100,000 - £120,000 (plus pensions, equity, bonus and so on) Each had a tenure of about 6 months, now that cost the business upwards of £100,000 and 12 months of opportunity cost, by making those incorrect hires.


Finally, and a silent killer, is waiting for the right person. The average leadership hire takes 6-12 months, and it'll take them a further 3-6 months to build the foundations for your revenue team.

Most start-ups can't afford to wait that long. There could be a new more well funded market entrant within that time or you could burn through your runway.

Founder led sales and fractional sales leadership is a way to get around this (self plug - this is what we do best), getting an engine up and running by experienced professionals so once the time comes, your head of sales is able to hit the ground running.

Sales hard for you also?

Book in a time with us and let's see if we can work some magic into your processes

Let's chat!