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Sales Story: Founder-led Sales Explained

Updated: May 8

We know a core part of a sales process is having a sales pitch. Or a sales story. Or a sales narrative.


Whatever it’s called these days.


You can’t just use your investor pitch deck for this. Buyers want their problems solved now. They don’t care about how big the market it, or what’s your vision 5 years from now.


Using an investor deck as a sales pitch only leads to one thing - delayed deals. “Talk to me when you’re able to do this….”


So how do you put a sales story together, in the early days, that will get prospects to think differently? Let’s go!


sales story founder-led sales explained

Understanding Founder-led Sales


At its core, founder-led sales is about leveraging the unique insights, passion, and authority of a company's founders to drive sales and growth. It's about the founders rolling up their sleeves and getting directly involved in selling their product or service. This can take many forms, from one-on-one sales meetings to pitching at industry events, to leading sales team meetings.


Founder-led sales is often most effective in the early stages of a company, when the founders are the most knowledgeable about the product and the most passionate about their vision. However, it can also be a powerful tool for growth and development at any stage of a company's life.


What is a sales story?

A sales narrative is a story that your prospects will resonate and empathize with. By articulating the problems they have in their world, it will start building trust.


Your story should really set the context as to why you exist.


It should explain the void in the you’re solving in the market.


When you have a good, compelling story like this, your prospects will be more receptive to hearing about your unique differentiators throughout your sales process and demo.


Developing your unique point of view

Before getting into the mechanics of building a sales narrative, it’s important to think about your unique point of view on the market.


When you’re brand new, and nobody knows who you are, they will not move their budget over from a competitor to you unless there’s a compelling reason.


Your unique point of view should be polarizing - it should get strong yesses and strong nos.

It will influence how you go to market and how you build your product.



In this video, I discuss the importance of developing a unique point of view in sales. I share examples from Gong and LevelJump Software, highlighting how their strong perspectives on the market set them apart. I explain how a unique point of view can help disrupt the market, attract customers, and shape product development and go-to-market strategies. Watch to learn why having a polarizing perspective is crucial for sales success.




P.S. these types of videos will be exclusive to the membership community


Components of a sales pitch

I’ve created quite a few sales pitches so far in my career. Some resonated. Some didn’t.


I’ve also received 100s of pitches as a buyer and from coaching founders.


There are a few frameworks I keep coming back to because they just work.


What I’m going through now is a combination of 3 things:


  1. April Dunford created an easy framework in her book Sales P!tch that translates your positioning into a sales story. I highly recommend you read it.

  2. Challenger has a commercial teaching framework that I’ve used for pitches, webinars, and thought leadership content. It’s really effective at explaining your POV.

  3. Chris Orlob, when he was at Gong.io, had a great framework for a polarizing nexus that really resonated.


So with these frameworks, time, and experience, this is what I came up with that works well in the early stages of your startup.


There are 5 main components of an effective sales pitch.


  • Polarizing insight - what’s your unique point of view on the market. This presents your positioning from the start.

  • The alternatives - list off pros and cons of different ways to solve the problem.

  • Reframing the problem - the problem behind the problem. They why. The void in the market.

  • Ideal world - the objectives, goals, and results they want to get to. The new way of doing things.

  • Your solution. This can be a light demo, a slide, or just verbal. Focus on what makes you unique.


Polarizing Insights

Polarizing insights are all about attacking the status quo.


Pick an enemy (not your competitor). That enemy should be your prospect’s status quo. And attack that enemy.


Some folks will say you’re wrong, but a big chunk of folks will think you’re right and will be interested in what you have to say.


Use a collection of your experiences, observations, prospect calls, customer calls, and market trends to help you compile this polarizing insight.


Creating a Polarizing Insight in Sales Storytelling


In this video, I discuss the importance of creating a polarizing insight in sales storytelling. I explain how to identify your enemy, which is not necessarily a direct competitor, but rather an ancient way of doing things or a massive void in the market. I provide examples of how outdated technologies like PDFs and shadowing sales reps can be challenged and improved upon. By attacking the status quo and offering a unique point of view, you can capture the attention of prospects and differentiate yourself in the market. No specific action is requested from viewers, but the video provides valuable insights for sales professionals.




P.S. These types of videos will be exclusive to the membership community


Positioning the market

When positioning the market, you don’t necessarily want to talk about a specific competitor unless you have to. Try to stick to groups of alternatives.


Every alternative has it’s strengths. You want to highlight this. You can’t just say that every option is bad - prospects won’t believe you.


When thinking about cons, try to think about the weakness within their strengths. Try to find a problem with what they are good at.


The real problem

Reframing the problem is all about identifying the void in the market.


Why hasn’t the problem been solved yet by current alternatives? This is the question you are trying to answer.


This should naturally point to your unique differentiators.


The ideal world

The ideal world is all about presenting the Objectives, outcomes, results, and capabilities gained…


Without talking about your solution yet.


You’re not sharing specific features. You’re talking about what the prospect would ideally want in order to solve the problems they have.


Your solution

Now you get to talk a little bit about yourself.


This is usually done through a demo, but could be a slide deck or just verbal.


You solution should focus on the unique features and differentiated value from your positioning exercise.


Example Sales Narrative

Here’s a rough example of a sales narrative for SalesMVP Lab.


Polarizing Insight

When technical founders leave their coding jobs to launch a startup, what they’re actually doing is getting into sales.


Entrepreneurs are the ultimate sales people.


Most technical founders got started because they had a cool product idea. They wanted to solve a problem they felt themselves. But most aren’t putting the same passion into generating revenue.


Which is why many fail.


Positioning the market

Some founders try to learn sales themselves. They’ll read books, maybe take a few courses. It’s generally cheap, but takes a long time and you’re not sure if you’re reading the right stuff.


Some will rely on mentors, either offered by their incubators or investors, or someone they know. Mentors have a ton of experiences to share, but the problem is most of them have never really created a sales process from scratch. They were mostly AEs at startups where a process already existed, or a sales leader that improved upon a process.


You could invest in a sales methodology. They’re usually well structured and have supporting resources. The problem is that they’re hard to implement in your unique business, are usually costly, and take a ton of time to learn and master.


Then there are sales coaches and consultants. You’ll get 1:1 coaching specific for you and your startup. The problem is most of them are specialists in sales and lack the “jack of all trades” experience required to create a process from nothing, which relies on sales, marketing, operations, and product positioning in the very early days.


The real problem (market void)

The real problem is that there isn’t a great solution in the market that’s focused specifically on technical founders at early stage startups. Most sales training, coaching, and advice is only applicable once you’ve within the $1-2M ARR range, where you’re hiring sales leaders and account executives. The training and methodologies that exist in the market today don’t take into account the workload of a founder, and the competing priorities. They’re overly complicated and assume you’re dedicating your entire profession to learning sales.


Ideal world

In an ideal world, you’d have 1:1 or group coaching sessions that focus on your unique startup. The coaching sessions would be structured in such a way that you’re learning and building at the same time. The coaching program would cover the right aspects of sales and positioning for early stages. And would give you access to on-demand resources while you’re running sales cycles.


Solution

This is why we created SalesMVP Lab. We’ve codified a decade of early-stage sales and positioning experiences into the FOUNDER Operating System™, and we help you build your Minimum Viable Sales Process™.


We do this through coaching calls, resources, courses, discussion groups, and a membership community. Each session, we tackle a different topic in the operating system. After a few months, you have a fully functional sales process that you built uniquely for your business.”


Take Your Founder-Led Sales to the Next Level


Ready to transform your technical expertise into sales success? SalesMVP Lab is here to guide you through the journey. With our specialized coaching, you'll learn how to build your first sales process using The FOUNDER Operating System and The Minimum Viable Sales Process. Don't let sales be the bottleneck of your growth. Book a call with us today and start mastering the art of founder-led sales!

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