We talked a lot in the introduction to the course about what sales is and isn’t. Focussing mainly on the flow of information.

That’s a great starting point to bear in mind when you try and get into the sales mindset.

So what is the sales mindset?

Steli Efti (founder of Close.io, partner for the course) describes it well when he says...

“Sales isn’t everything - but everything is sales.”

Nice words, but not very actionable, I know.

Let’s break it down into two, more tangible things you need to change about your outlook to get into the sales mindset:

  1. Focus on the pain, not the problem
  2. Be a coach, not an adversary

Pain not problem

As a founder - especially if you’re a technical founder - you’ll have the urge to focus on a problem to solve.

We founders like problems.

But the thing is, customers don’t pay you to solve problems. Solving a problem doesn’t guarantee the sale.

… solving a pain does.

So, if you want to make sales and grow a successful business, you need to get into the mindset of thinking about the customer, their goals and their pains first. 

Sometimes, that’ll mean solving a problem for them. But the important thing is to stop asking yourself “is this the best way to solve this problem?” and start asking “is this the best way of providing value to the customer?”

You’re there to improve someone’s life, not solve a problem.

Coach not adversary

One of the hard things about learning sales is that, as an inexperienced salesperson, you only notice ‘being sold to’ when it’s done poorly.

So your initial impression of sales (not helped by films and TV) is probably that sales is combative. 

That you and your potential customers are adversaries. And you need to ‘beat them’ - to win by convincing them to buy.

And the truth is, this approach does work…

… if you’re selling something once.

In the analogue world, where you can show up on someone’s doorstep, pressure them into buying something from you, and leave town before they change their mind.

But (hopefully) that’s not the kind of business you’re trying to build. 

And - especially if you offer a money-back guarantee, or are running a SaaS product where the customer needs to want to buy again every month - it won’t work.

Instead, you need to stop thinking of yourself as an adversary, and start thinking of yourself as a coach

Like a coach, you’re there to help the customer reach their goals. To help them overcome obstacles in their path and create value for them.

And, like a coach, your customer will reward you for helping them create value. 

Advantages of the right sales mindset

We’ve already mentioned the major advantage of getting into the sales mindset:

  • You’ll close more deals, faster.

But two other, less obvious things happen when you get into the sales mindset:

  1. As your sales approach becomes less adversarial, and you start to focus on making your customers’ lives better, you’ll start to find that sales is fun!

  2. As you shift from focussing on a problem to focussing on solving a customer’s pain, your source of motivation will shift too. And that means - when you inevitably realise the cool app solution you wanted to build actually isn’t what people will pay for - you won’t lose motivation and quit. 


Anatomy of a sale

Finally, let’s put this all together into a step-by-step, high level overview of how ‘a sale’ works:

  1. You talk to a potential customer and understand their goal
  2. You identify and understand any obstacles standing between them and their goal
  3. You create a shared path to achieving that goal. A win-win situation where you’re both on the same team
  4. You nudge them along that path, to achieve their goal
  5. (You set a new goal together…)

Obviously, in later modules we’re going to go much, much deeper into actionable advice on how to actually do sales and get customers to buy your product. But it’s important to get into the right mindset first, otherwise you’ll be swimming against the tide as you try and implement that advice.

Another way to understand why the sales mindset works is by understanding how value fluctuates along the customer journey. You can find out more about that in the next bonus video.

Sales for Founders Self-Serve Track

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