Aligning Sales Around Founder Vision
It’s the task of every founder to share an inspirational vision of the future on a very high frequency.
In early-stage start-ups, often it’s this vision of the future that inspires new employees to join them on their journey rather than take the easier better-paid job in the office a block away.
However, it’s the go-to-market org that needs to validate that vision, typically in the form of hard cash, and that’s no small feat.
👺 Spotting a weak founder
Weak founders dictate a vision and dictate targets.
The weaker founders are easy to spot:
- They struggle to evolve from founder-led sales.
- They complain that “if they can do it, why can’t you?”
- They readily discount the value of their privileged knowledge in the sales process
- They set unrealistic targets and are unapologetic about it, even after the fact
- They readily discount the power of their title in a sales discussion
- They frequently downplay the value of sales
- They “penny pinch” when it comes to commission payouts
If you want to evolve from founder-led sales, it’s not good enough to just have the vision, and expect everyone else to just “get it” because you do. If this comes as news to you, you’ve got work to do.
😇 Spotting a strong founder:
Strong founders deeply engage with their teams right across the organization:
- They keep their teams regularly updated on how their vision has evolved.
- They offer to be on sales calls.
- They are very public in their praise, even of minor victories.
- They declare the workings behind how they reached the team targets agreed with the board.
- They pay out on bluebird deals, without hesitation!
- They build instant trust in their sales org,
- It’s super obvious they have your back.
The chasm between a vision and a repeatable and sustainable sales motion is wide and treacherous, however, with the right run-up, it’s a fairly safe leap. If you want to evolve from founder-led sales, you need to develop a set of sales tools, that have a basis in the real world.
I’ve spent my 20+ year career helping founders span that chasm and evolve from founder-led selling to building go-to-market orgs that scale globally, creating hundreds of $millions of value.
The strong founders will get in the boat with their teams, build playbooks with them, set challenging but realistic goals, and iterate with their teams as signals from the market emerges through the quarter.
The very first phase of making this happen is the strategy phase, this is the phase where alignment happens. It’s here that you build the basis of your go-to-market flywheel.
Get this right, and everyone aligns around a vision that you built, but your team augmented. It’s your vision but owned by them. Et Voila! Watch the deals flow.
Get this wrong, it’s gonna be a grind.
Good luck everyone!
About: Wayne Morris is the Founder of Morris Consulting, LLC a consultancy practice advising multiple tech companies in the US and Europe on building optimal go-to-market motions. Formerly Chief Revenue Officer at Wonderschool Inc, an a16z backed Edtech SaaS & Marketplace start-up, where he led and executed a successful pivot during the pandemic that resulted in $multi-million ARR and industry-leading growth. Prior he was Chief Revenue Officer and a long-standing member of the executive team at Guidebook, where led the company through 5x growth across the US, EMEA, and APAC over a 6 year period. Previously he was GM of Maxymiser UK where he was part of the leadership team that led the company through 14x growth in 4 years, prior to them being acquired by Oracle. Wayne also had stints in sales leadership roles at leading AdTech firm Criteo, and Kelkoo (acquired by Yahoo!) in the UK, and Hitwise (acquired by Experian).