Sales in a startup - busting the myth!

Navigating the journey from startup through to maturity is full of risk.  So it is not surprising that there are many myths that exist to avoid such failure. The true reasons startups fail is borne out by research of  The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. It is not a lack of funding, nor having a great product, but the inability to address a specific need in the marketplace that is the main culprit.  In this research, Treehouse Logic described where they went wrong; “Startups fail when they are not solving a market problem. We were not solving a large enough problem that we could universally serve with a scalable solution. We had great technology, great data on shopping behaviour, great reputation as a thought leader, great expertise, great advisors, etc, but what we didn’t have was technology or business model that solved a pain point in a scalable way.”

So what is it that prevents great entrepreneurs from clearing the hurdles that each startup will face in their evolution? Of course there are many factors that go into answering this question, and every startup will face different challenges. That said, there are three common myths that if followed can hinder your journey:

Myth 1. If I employ a Sales Executive and use aggressive pricing I will gain market traction.

Many startups will employ a Sales Executive to run their initial go to market initiative. This is often where sales innovation is at its fastest pace.  There’s little time to build momentum around a product with customers, and here the focus is often on pricing strategies to open up doors.

The problem is, it's not just about the pricing. The cost to a prospective customer is not always relevant- even though procurement will tell you differently.  The value of the product is it’s ability to address a specific goal within an organization.  In doing so it fulfills a business need. As a startup you may not be completely aware of the true value of your product and may not understand the total benefit it brings.  Your first customers by definition are innovators in their market, and as such, can see the potential to solve a problem they face by procuring your solution. Without capturing the real reasons behind your customer’s purchase, you are missing an opportunity to increase sales volume.  An aggressive pricing strategy by itself, is unlikely to bring enough people knocking on your door.

Myth 2. Investing in Marketing will increase Sales.

If marketing is done in isolation without an understanding of what the sales message is, then it is likely to cause confusion. There is often no focused partnership between sales and marketing teams to come together to capture the “real value impact”.  The new customers know why they purchased the product, but with the velocity of the activities in both sales and marketing to find new customers, it's often left to later in the evolution of the company, before there’s a focused effort on gathering the “why”. Don’t leave it too late to create a partnership culture between marketing and sales.

Myth 3. If we develop a great product it will sell.

There is an emphasis on building the metaphorical “faster mousetrap” with the belief that by itself, the product will be sufficient to drive scalable revenue growth. As David Burkus discusses in his book the The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas,  this is not enough.  We have all heard the saying that if you build a better product, the world will beat a path to your door.  In fact, this is rarely the case, and as David Burkus outlines, even the actual mousetrap fell foul of this myth!

It has to be understood that “Good” products sell. Too many start-ups become obsessed with the development of a really “Great” products and lose focus on what the customer actually wants to buy.

The traps that these three myths highlight all come about because of a lack of understanding of the customer, and their motivations for procuring a product. To avoid these pitfalls, it is necessary to put in the effort to understand why prospective customers will buy from you, and to develop a go-to-market strategy that reflects this. Both sales and marketing need to focus on a common outreach message that has been developed as a part of this strategy. It is not until you have a firm customer base, that you can afford to follow your aspirations and build that really “great” product. A “good” product with great execution creates a successful future.

Huerdo can help start-ups by freeing them from the challenges of creating a Sales Organization from scratch, to help startups bust these myths faster, and with lower risk. With our team of seasoned Sales Executives, we can provide consulting services to help you develop a go-to-market strategy for your product, identify potential clients, recruit the right sales team, and recommend proven sales process. Alternatively, you can use our Sales as a Service team to sell for you. By employing our sales team, you lower recruitment costs, reduce the risk of employing the wrong team, and have a team of professionals available who are all experts in taking new products to market.

For more information on Huerdo’s Enterprise Software Sales as a Service please feel free to visit us at

Chris Fletcher - COO Huerdo Inc