Episode OneHundred

How a Career in Sales Can Set You Up to Become a Successful Founder

Guest: Kris Hartvigsen, Founder and CEO of Dooly

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About This Episode

There’s a lot of career paths that salespeople can take. 

There’s the traditional path of going from BDR, to AE, to Sales Manager, to VP.  That’s a great path to take. But there’s a lot of other paths available to you, too. 

On the latest episode of The Sales Engagement podcast I wanted to talk through one of those more non-traditional paths — entrepreneurship. And to help me with this discussion I invited successful salesperson turned successful entrepreneur, Kris Hartvigsen, Founder and CEO of Dooly

We talked about what makes a founder, well, a founder, why a career in sales prepares you to be a great entrepreneur, and how being a founder makes you a better salesperson. 

What Makes a Founder, a Founder?

Kris has a hypothesis that everybody wants to be a founder. Think about it. 

Try to find a single person in your life who hasn’t got some crazy idea written on the back of a napkin. Everybody’s got it in them to dream up ideas. 

And what separates a founder from someone who’s dreaming the ideas is just the pursuit of that dream. It’s perseverance and the will to bring it to life. 

The closer you get towards something you feel really passionate about, and the more confident you are with the subject matter that you’re about to embark on, the more likely you are to become a founder. 

The Aspects of Sales That Makes You a Better Founder:

First, through sales you develop soft skills that are really important in terms of communicating a vision and an idea to a team. These skills include asking good questions, knowing how to listen, poise, personability, and adaptability.

In addition to these soft skills, sales also helps you to develop a really good sense of what will and what will not sell. As you’re working through the product road map, you just know which features will be compelling to the broader market, and that gives you a lot of strength within the business.

How Being a Founder Makes You a Better Salesperson:

When you’re a founder, you get so much insight from how the rest of the business operates, that it makes you a far more empathetic salesperson. You understand why things are important and who they’re important to. 

But you also understand how much value there is in these post-sale conversations that people are having within the business, whether it be someone doing implementation or your customer success team. 

When you’re selling, once you close a deal you’re on to the next one. But if you follow that deal throughout the course of its life, the anecdotes and stories that you can gain, and can bring to the next conversation, can be very impactful. These stories can help you to be much sharper in the next pitch. 

Advice for the People With That Dream Written on a Napkin: 

Don’t let your idea drive you. Let the voice of the market drive you. 

You have to do your homework. 

And if you’re really thinking about becoming a founder and you come from a sales background, think about things like pragmatic marketing. It really makes you get out of the kitchen and start talking to customers. You really have to figure out what the market’s going to want, and tools like this can help you do that.

The sooner you figure out what the market wants, the better chance you have of surviving that first year. 

If You Only Walk Away With One Thing, Let It Be This: 

If you have an idea you think you can take forward, take a swipe at it. Do a little research first, but don’t hold back. Go for it. There’s plenty of opportunity. 

And realize that everyone becomes a founder at a different stage of life. Some people can afford to be really fearless, but others can’t do that quite as much. So, if you’re a bit farther along in your career, don’t let that stop you. Maybe you just need to be a bit more courageous, a bit more crazy, or a bit of both.

No matter what stage you’re in, if you’ve got a dream, go for it.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Kris Hartvigsen from Dooly. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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