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Sales is by far the most important aspect of being a founder. You encounter sales when you -
A lot of life is comprised of what Daniel Pink calls, “non-sales selling” - negotiating with your kids to go to sleep, convincing your boss to fund a new project, etc.
Sales is everywhere.
Over the last 3 years, I have come to understand the importance of sales, and have gotten pretty F’ing good at ruthlessly following up on my emails.
I’ve read some sales books during the last few years as well, but I’ve always been afraid to write about it in this newsletter, because my education has been haphazard.
I’ve never taken a legit sales course.
That ends now.
I’m a strong believer in this method of learning -
So it’s time to get serious. Over the coming months, I am going to write more formally about building a sales process from scratch.
I’ve found a ton of resources about different stages of a sales funnel, but never seen someone walk a reader through building theirs from ground zero. This will be an interesting experiment, and I expect to learn a ton.
We actually have solid pipeline at the moment.
The startup conference in SF yielded a ton of hot leads, and we closed a bunch of new accounts in February.
January was my best personal month of sales - between selling sponsorships for our in-person events and placing vets in new jobs, I cleared $100k in sales for the first time in a single month.
With a few open roles to fill and a bevy of new clients, why focus on sales right now?
Employers are the hard side of the marketplace - it’s always going to be harder to bring on new employers vs new candidates.
Symbiotic roles give us economies of scale - having multiple employers hiring for a similar role means that each candidate we interview can have multiple opportunities.
I figure that if we have enough open roles, we’ll figure out the ops side of the house. It might get stressful, but whatever.
Let’s double down on sales and see where we end up.
I’m going to break these posts down more or less like this -
👉 Overview of a funnel & pipeline (today)
Identifying the target persona - who are we selling to?
Generating sales collateral - selling the benefits
Prospecting through email
Closing the deal
Invoicing, payment, delivery of services
When people talk about sales, they often mention a funnel.
A funnel is a visual representation of your sales journey.
At each stage of the funnel, a potential client/customer is engaged, learns more, and makes a decision to exit the funnel or move forward.
The critical thing to remember about a funnel is that since potential customers are moving forward or exiting the funnel, there is a conversion rate associated with each stage.
Let’s take an example -
You may have 100 prospects enter the top of the funnel
90 make it to Discovery, with 10 opting-out
70 proceed to Evaluation
20 to Intent
The overall conversion rate for this funnel is 5%.
We can also calculate the conversion rate for each stage. For instance, the above numbers show a massive drop between Evaluation and Intent - if we could improve that phase, we would close dramatically more deals.
A pipeline runs in parallel to the funnel.
Whereas the funnel measures the conversion rate for each phase, the pipeline indicates what the salesperson does.
So in the above graphic, we see that the seller has goals and objectives for each stage of the pipeline/funnel.
As we go through this journey together, I will come back to this image and outline the steps I am taking in formalizing our pipeline.
I hope this post has been illustrative, and I’m excited to see where this journey takes us.
I’ve started prepping the battlespace through cold outreach last week, so by the time I get to prospecting in a few weeks, I will have some results to show you.
Until then, let me know if this has been interesting and what sales resources have been helpful to you.
PS - If you want to set up a 1-to-1 coaching call, you can do so here.
If you want to sponsor these newsletters, hit reply and let’s chat. I’ve had inbound in the last few weeks and I’m open to it.
You can check out The Military Veteran Podcast here. This week, we had Derek Herrera, who is an incredible founder, friend, mentor, and member of the RL community.
Excited to see the sales journey and thanks for hosting me on the podcast! Keep up the great work Brendan!!!