Founder-Led Sales Strategies: Tips for Accelerating Growth for Your SaaS Startup

Founder-Led Sales Strategies: Tips for Accelerating Growth for Your SaaS Startup




At the early stage, when startups are competing primarily for product fit and traction, founders should be willing and able to lead by example.

A startup CEO should take the lead on the company’s sales directive, and everything else can then fall into place.

Here are some recommendations that a SaaS startup founder can use to help the sales team achieve early-stage sales growth.

What is a Founder-Led Sales Strategy?

Founder-led is the term used to describe a sales approach where the founder of a startup is responsible for qualifying leads, engaging the leads to identify their pain points, pitching the product or service, and completing the sale.

An approach that greatly differs from a product-led strategy. However, both strategies can be applied for unlimited growth.

This approach works wonders because of the unalloyed passion, confidence, and product knowledge the founder infused into the sales engagement. Even without sales experience, the founder of a startup is the best person to sell their idea. They have a deeper understanding of the product than anyone else and have a good idea of the pain point they’re trying to solve.

Formalizing a sales team too early could stall startup growth by creating friction in a still-developing sales pipeline. A founder-led sales strategy fully develops that pipeline and creates a strong sales process to build on.

What is a SaaS Subscription Revenue Model for Startup?

SaaS (Software-as-a-Service subscription) is the term used to describe a business model where users or customers pay monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription (recurring) fees for as long as they want the product or service (customer lifetime value).

In different forums, the SaaS business model has been cited as a model that experiences at least a 10% month-on-month churn rate, unlike the pay-as-you-use or one-time fee models. Although there are a lot of contributing factors, a paying customer could stop subscribing to a product or service at will.

In Nigeria, we have a peculiar issue beyond economic reason where the majority of customers prefer to dictate the next cycle of subscription, and this would be a key metric for growth.

Benefits of a Founder-Led Sales Strategy

There are many benefits that SaaS startups can gain from implementing this strategy. Some are instant gratifications, while others could be delayed or ongoing. A founder-led sales strategy offers:

1. Clear and Direct Feedback: While some founders solely rely on the product manager’s feedback reports, a CEO engaging warm leads gets a unique opportunity to receive one-on-one feedback from those willing to hear them out.

The founder should use the time to learn more about the interests of their customers regarding the key problem they are trying to solve. A CEO who learns through on-the-spot feedback can create detailed and authentic sales training manuals for tomorrow.

2. Initial Revenue:  Revenue may seem like an obvious benefit of sales. So while you celebrate those first sales, they don’t signal success yet, but what nothing. Some sales professionals put the threshold at 1000 sales.

As this can be beneficial at the early stage, a founder wearing all the hats in a company could be a recipe for micromanagement.

3. Product Refine: There is no better time to fine-tune your product or services than during the first few months of launch.

It is nearly impossible to bring a perfect product to market on the first try, which is why those sales calls are so helpful for a founder willing to listen to feedback objectively. By taking time to refine some aspects of the product to better meet the needs of potential customers, you are laying the groundwork for improved customer service, satisfaction, and retention.

How to Approach a Founder-Led Sales Strategy

To get started with a founder-led sales strategy. Here’s a concise and candid step-by-step guide for reference.

Create an ideal customer profile: Go as narrow as possible. Consider your ideal customers. A business-to-consumer (B2C) SaaS startup should only focus on competitive buyer personas. While a B2B startup operates differently considering the diverse factors in determining ICP.

Create a small, targeted list: We’re getting specific because we want to start small. A startup’s initial sales goal should be quality over quantity. A “spray and pray” approach to sales in the startup phase guarantees a low closing rate.

Develop an Elevator Pitch: How can you communicate your product or service’s solution engagingly to potential customers? Find it and develop it.

Start qualifying prospects: With the help of your team, lead generation and qualification are an important part of the sales process. A sign you’re qualifying correctly is you say no more than yes when exploring a potential prospect.

Build a sales process: Every process starts with uncovering pain points. Next, demonstrate the solution and propose a business relationship. Finally, negotiate as needed and close the deal.

Tips for Success

While implementing a founder-led sales strategy is beneficial, it’s not always as easy as it looks. Remember the following:

Learn the science of sales: Knowing what potential customers think and feel throughout the buying process can significantly affect closing rates. Add empathy and a consultative selling approach to your sales meetings.

Embrace tools: A leader-led sales approach is beneficial but often filled with time-consuming tasks. Instead, automate as much of your sales and other day-to-day processes as possible with automation tools and streamline your workflows.

Case Study: Klas, an online teaching platform, recently launched a founder-led sales generation programme called Klas Launch Accelerator for educators. And being championed by its Nigerian founder and CEO.


Being a successful salesperson requires a tremendous skill set. It’s okay if you’re still developing yours as a CEO. However, remember that no one else can bring the same authenticity and passion to sales activities as you can, so your chances of success are likely higher than those of a trained sales team member who wasn’t part of the product’s developmental stage.

A leader-led sales strategy is the best approach when a company is small. By spending time with early adopters, a CEO can fine-tune their product and process to serve as an unwavering foundation for their future sales team to build upon.

About the Writer:

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Ayorinde Ajayi

Ayorinde Ajayi is a tech product sales specialist and consultant for B2B and B2C startups in Nigeria. He currently works at Sales Factorial Consulting, a one-stop-shop agency for product-led sales. With his diverse skills in product management, technical sales, and IT recruitment both in the Tech and Oil and Gas industries. Ayorinde has overseen 10 projects and managed over 500 high-ticket clients in the last 7 years. Combining two industries in which he has passion: tech startups and sales, Ayorinde is open to collaboration and opportunities in product distribution, lead generation, B2B sales content development, tech sales team coaching, and corporate LinkedIn page optimization.




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