Early-stage founders need to be actively selling. It’s a key sales fundamental to understand that having a dual founder/sales role means that the buck stops with you. This means your prospective client knows that you call the shots. They know that you have the authority and can commit. You can say YES.

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But… there may be situations where you don’t want to. Or shouldn’t. Or don’t know.

Maybe the deal is squirrely. Or you haven’t fully figured out the terms, the numbers, the obligations. Or you’re not sure this is a good initial customer. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to make the call at that precise moment or under those conditions.

As the founder, give yourself an out in sales moments like this. Have an escape hatch that can prevent you from making a bad deal in the pressure of the moment.

It’s smart strategy. Sales reps have to get approval from their VP. The guy on the showroom floor has to talk with his manager. The real estate agent has to check with the seller. You’re the boss, but there will be times when you need a bad cop to go with your good cop.

Plan Ahead

The out can be as simple as:

– “This all sounds good, but I first need to check with the implementation team.”
– “Personally, the deal terms look good but I am going to need to run this by my board / VC / accountant.”
– “I think we’re in agreement and I’m excited about this partnership, but one of my idiosyncrasies is that I like to give myself a day. I’m assuming you’re okay with that, and we can finalize the details tomorrow.”

This isn’t to say you should make a habit of dragging out deals. But as a founder, be aware of this sales fundamental. There will be times when need to buy time before wrapping up a complicated sale. Plan for it.