Technical founders are tempted to look for a channel partner or hire an experienced sales person to make their early sales. This is often problematic for several reasons.
It’s hard to assess/develop a channel without a clear picture of your target customer and the value proposition that your solution offers. Developing that clear picture requires customer discovery conversations.
It’s very hard to use a commissioned sales force to do customer discovery conversations:
- they have a strong temptation to move into “objection handling” instead of “problem/need discovery” because those skills are what normally close deals when they are selling a product with a proven value proposition.
- Customer discovery is sales, but it stresses the discovery skills that can atrophy in a sales force that does not require them for a well understood product in an existing market.
Customer discovery is sales but many technical founders don’t associate it with sales because they consider sales to be about “making the pitch” and “ABC – always be closing,” not realizing that you also “sell with your ears” by “ABCD – always be collecting data.”