What I learned from the last sales job I ever had

In today’s issue, I’ll share 3 key lessons I learned from the last sales job I ever had. If you can take these lessons and apply them to what you sell, you’ll be in a better position to start more conversations, book more meetings, and close bigger deals.

But first, a bit of context. The last sales job I ever had was an Account Executive position for a tech company based in the US. They had been successful in raising money and deploying their solution in many mobile apps on the US market. I stayed for a total of 5 months, before quitting and going on my own.

Here’s what I learned:

Lesson 1: If you don’t understand the product, your prospects won’t get it either

When you work for a startup, you may not have a product-market fit yet. The early funding is supposed to help the company find it, and help you sell you first deals. It’s especially true if you’re opening a new market (like I was supposed to do).

In many cases, the founders are convinced that their product is revolutionary, but they can’t quite explain you why. That was the case for me. I remember going to California for a 2-week onboarding bootcamp. I attended many product sessions, deal reviews, and so on, but I couldn’t grasp why people would buy what we were selling.

When I came back to Europe, I started prospecting and meeting prospects, but I was not capable to explain them what outcomes they would get from using the product I was selling. The pitch deck was focused on the features (woofing, as Skip Miller would say), but my prospects couldn’t care less.

Takeways:

  • Nobody cares about your product
  • Raising lots of money ≠ guaranteed success
  • What works in the US may not work in EMEA

Lesson 2: A founder is often a terrible salesperson

This last job gave me the opportunity to understand that selling isn’t a natural quality of many founders. They may be great at raising money, telling a compelling story to investors, or telling white lies, but they are often too focused on themselves to be good salespeople.

At my last sales job, I had the opportunity to go meet prospects in Paris, with one of the co-founders of the company. He destroyed every single opportunity I had been working on by reciting his fundraising deck. He was bragging about the “award-winning” technology we used, the size of our team, the crazy growth of the company, and so on.

There was just one problem. All these prospects were French, they didn’t really understand English, and they didn’t have any space to share what they were working on.

Takeaways:

  • Founders are often great at many things, but not selling
  • Their obsession with scale will hurt your deals
  • French people do not speak good English 😂

Lesson 3: It’s never about what you sell

This last lesson is the most important I learned from my last sales job. I had the opportunity to meet with Skip Miller during a 2-day training organized by the company, and it changed the trajectory of my career. I learned that everything your prospects are interested in is themselves.

They are only interested in understanding if your product can help them reach their targets, what outcomes it’s going to create for them, and how you can help them make a dent in their problems.

Takeaways:

  • If you don’t know your prospects problems, you don’t have deal
  • Nobody cares about what you sell, they care about outcomes
  • If you had the chance to meet Skip Miller, you were blessed

And these are the 3 most important lessons I learned from the last sales job I ever had. I’ve been working on my own since September 2018, and I like to say I’m totally unemployable as a result. Leaving this last job seemed risky at the time, but it was the best decision of my life, as I found out I was able to make money on my own terms, without having to report to anyone.

Hope this inspires you to be more intentional with what you want to do with your life.

Cheers,

Thibaut Souyris

P.S. When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

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