How to Excel at Founder-led Sales with Leslie Venetz


To learn more about how to excel at founder-led sales, click here to attend Leslie’s webinar on May 23.

Founder-led sales can be a powerful strategy for startups. In this kind of sales approach, the founder is often the primary point of contact for potential customers, taking on responsibilities such as prospecting, lead generation, and closing deals. It allows founders to build personal relationships with potential customers, and gives them an opportunity to convey the vision behind their startup.

However, despite the benefits of founder-led sales, it can also be challenging to master because founders often lack time, resources, and sales experience. Founders can also be hindered by their over-attachment to the product, and regardless of their success, it can be difficult to scale. 

For many founders, the startup sales process starts with cold outreach, something Sales Team Builder Founder Leslie Venetz has ample experience with. Throughout her career, she’s made more than 100,000 cold calls and now uses that experience to help companies create the skill sets and repeatable processes necessary to support outbound motions that generate revenue.

“Early-stage startups are often still doing founder-led sales,” Leslie says. “They haven’t made the transition away and for many founders it can be challenging.”

In a webinar for Founders Network on May 23, Leslie will share her tips for founder-led sales to help founders without sales teams excel.

In her webinar, Leslie will cover:

  • How to take a buyer-centric approach to selling with the Earn the Right Methodology 
  • TAM v ICP: What’s the difference & why does it matter?
  • How to optimize email for responsibility 

The Art of Cold Copy

One challenging aspect of founder-led sales is creating cold copy. The average open rate for cold emails is 6%, but these emails are essential whether a founder is fundraising or trying to secure a customer.

“Cold copy can be a challenge for founders because they have literally never done it before,” Leslie says. “It’s about figuring out how to write emails that people actually reply to. And that applies to writing emails to VCs to get attention to get funding and writing emails to customers. It’s about writing emails that work.”

Shifting Focus

Founder-led sales often means changing your thinking. When fundraising, founders are often focused on the total addressable market (TAM), which represents the entire universe of customers who could potentially buy a product or service, assuming there are no constraints on factors such as geography, budget, or access. But an effective sales strategy means narrowing your focus. 

“I think that can be a challenging conversation to have with early stage startups that are going for funding because they get into the mindset of talking in TAM because that’s what they’re trying to sell to these VCs,” Leslie says. “It’s definitely a mindset shift because founders are used to talking about their one million potential prospects. But all you really need to get right is outreach to these like 380 people because you only really need 10 of them to say yes to you.”

Honing In

Instead of the total addressable market, Leslie says founders should hone in on their ideal customer profile (ICP), which includes factors such as demographics, firmographics, behaviors, and psychographics. She says it’s important to figure out who your ICP is so you know who to target with your sales outreach. 

“Once you have an idea of who to target, you have to think about segmenting that group of people so that you’re not trying to target 10,000 people,” Leslie says. “It’s so important to find those people that are most likely to buy from you now, and at the highest price point, and then renew. You need to really get serious about your messaging to that small subset of people.”

 To learn more about how to excel at founder-led sales, register to attend Leslie’s webinar on May 23.

Share With Your Network

Looking for startup advice, connections, and insights?

Tap into a global network that enables you to answer questions, build relationships, and gain the perspective you need to move faster.
Peer mentorship with fellow tech founders
Pitch practice with Tier 1 VCs
Accelerator grade discounts