All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders

Peter Levine

As a former CEO and software engineer (Citrix, XenSource, VERITAS, etc.), board member of GitHub (recently acquired by Microsoft), and lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Busines, a16z general partner Peter Levine is constantly asked “Why sales?” by entrepreneurs and technical founders. He himself used to hold the “engineer-centric” view that if you build a great product, customers will come. But the fact is, all world-class companies must have a strong sales force. So — how do they get there? How does a technical founder begin to build a top tier sales motion?

In this series of snack-sized videos — which you can watch all together, or mix-and-match for your particular questions and needs — Levine distills the fundamentals that every founder should know about sales. The 16 lessons in this “mini-MOOC” offer everything from definitions to concrete guidance for the following:

1. All Things Sales! 16 Mini-Lessons for Startup Founders [Introduction]

2. Understanding and Defining Sales Channels

3. Engaging Sales: How Much to Spend on Marketing vs. Sales?

4. Segmenting Markets for Go-to-Market

5. Why Build a Sales Organization?

6. Building a Sales Org: Who, When, How

7. Setting the Sales Number

8. A Short Coda on (Sales) Quotas

9. Mapping Go-to-Market to Customers: ‘The Coverage Matrix’

10. Managing a Sales Org: Forecasting

11. Managing a Sales Org: Revenue Composition

12. How to Compensate Sales Reps

13. Simplifying Sales Compensation

14. Sales Force Productivity: How Do You Know?

15. Predicting Your Pipeline

16. Takeaways for Technical Founders: How to Think about Sales [conclusion]

Acknowledgements: With thanks to Mark Leslie and Jim Lattin for their contributions to the concepts — including the “sales learning curve” (see this 2006 Harvard Business Review article by Leslie and Charles Holloway) — in this series. Many of these concepts are developed and discussed in an MBA elective course we teach at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “Building and Managing Professional Sales Organizations”.