Sales & Marketing

Rocket your sales with founder selling – make people want to buy from you

6 min read

30 January 2017

If you’re trying to grow your business organically you’ll need to make sales (and lots of them!) to become successful. If you’re a funded firm, you’re likely to need to make even more sales to keep the hungry VCs off your back and provide the return they crave! This will require a healthy dose of founder selling.

To achieve entrepreneurial success, you (and your fellow directors) need to get out and focus on making sales, as what your business needs most is sales revenue. You can personally control and drive those sales using a practical, powerful tool, which I call founder selling.

This tool will help build a cost-effective engine to drive growth, create momentum and allow you to scale up. You need to step up to the plate and accept, as a founding director or CEO, that selling is your top priority and one that you must take responsibility for. You may already be doing some Founder Selling, but you can always improve the way you sell.

Passion as a powerful sales tool

The reason you should make sales is that you are the one with the passion. The fact you’ve started up a business proves you have a vision, a dream and drive. Potential clients will want to meet you and find out why you’re so passionate. Sequoia Capital’s Doug Leone, the legendary backer of Google, Airbnb & WhatsApp spoke recently about this: “What is the one quality all successful entrepreneurs share?” an attendee asked. “They don’t do it for the money,” Leone quickly responded. “They’re passionate about their mission.”

If you can channel your passion in the right way, it will become a powerful sales tool to inspire people to buy your products.

Fear as a barrier

I’ve met many Founders/CEOs who don’t think selling should be a part of their role. You too may have reservations about whether you should or can sell, but your excuses are masking fears. It’s hard to admit you have fears, but we are all scared of something and fears are likely to include:

1) Rejection: This is a primal fear but pointless. Rejection is not normally a reflection of you personally but means you need to make some tweaks. Treat rejection as feedback and you will get better – a sentiment echoed by Bill Gates who said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

2) Success: People don’t like to admit to this fear, but it can often be a deep-rooted fear at the heart of your subconscious, because success can lead to hard work, hassle, raised expectations and, oddly, fear of failure when it comes to delivery.

Three steps to effective founder selling

Now you might think this selling idea makes sense in theory, but you may still harbour doubts about whether you can succeed at selling. You may feel that you are not a natural sales person. And you’re probably not, very few of us are (including me!)…but if you are prepared to give it a go, it is actually easy to learn. I’ve always used this simple three-step process:

1) Curiosity: It’s a very simple concept, but incredibly important. Curiosity is asking questions and listening. If you talk less and ask more questions you will come across as authentic, intelligent and empathetic. Clients will love you.

2) Proposition: To be successful, you will need a strong proposition or ‘elevator pitch’. Your potential clients need to know why you have set up your business and why it is so special, and this needs to roll off the tongue in an impressive, high-impact way.

3) Passion: Having laid the foundations with curious questions and an impressive proposition, you can then differentiate yourself by using genuine passion to make an emotional connection with your prospect.

It’s important to realise you don’t have to be the perfect sales person to make sales. By demonstrating your curiosity, delivering a compelling proposition, and using your passion to inspire your prospects, you will perform brilliantly in sales conversations.

Founder selling to team selling

Once you’ve mastered founder selling and the first high value sales are in the bag, your scale-up has really started, but be aware that you have a long way to go to gain real momentum. To achieve this, the next stage will be to build a strong sales team to share the selling load with you. And here’s the bonus – if you can sell yourself, as a leader you will attract and build a talented team who will help drive your business towards true success.

Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine is out in February 2017, priced £11.99, from Rethink Press. For more information, visit www.gordonmcalpine.co.uk