Culturally, ‘Sales’ is a dirty word in New Zealand. Kiwi salespeople often refuse to admit they are in sales as if there is terrible shame in the profession. Companies add to this stigma by disguising sales roles under ridiculous psuedonems like ‘Business Development Professional’, ‘Customer Solution Specialist’ or a ‘Marketing Representative’. One of the most ridiculous titles I had prior to starting my consultancy was ‘Brand Development Partner’. This attitude is particularly pervasive in the startup community with many Kiwi Startups treating sales as an unpleasant afterthought, instead focusing 99% of their efforts on tinkering and tweaking their product.
As a result of this aversion to selling, many startups put-off thinking about revenue generation for as long as possible, whilst focusing on product development. They are then left very unprepared, with no sales strategy for when their product is ready for market all the while watching their runway shrink rapidly. This leads to companies burning far more cash than they should early on and then having to give up further equity on subsequent capital raises to stay afloat. Instead, startups should be prioritizing the design of their foundational sales playbook and ramping up their revenue as quickly as possible!
Sales are to businesses, like oxygen is to humans. Without it they quickly suffocate and die. ‘Sales’ is not a collection of underhanded tactics to persuade buyers to hand over cash for something they do not need or the classic stereotype of the sleazy used car salesman. ‘Sales’ at its core is matching people with problems to solutions. ‘Sales’ is about guiding the buyer through their purchasing journey and adding value. Ultimately, sales are the lifeblood of all businesses. Startups need to start giving sales the same respect and effort they give to their product development. This will unlock much faster growth, minimise capital wastage and help more innovative solutions get to market!