Startups have a lot to worry about.

There’s a company to build, funds to raise and, at the center of it all, a product or service to develop. But without customers you won’t have a sustainable business, yet sales can often be pushed to the back burner when every detail of a fledgling company is in need of attention.

In a great piece we found recently on, Troy Henikoff explains why this is a mistake:

You may have a great product, but without customers it’s just a product; with customers it becomes a business. As entrepreneurs, we like to be in control – we can control the technology, we can control the UX, we can control what the product looks like – but none of that matters without customers.

We couldn’t agree more. Sales means verifying that your product is needed in the market, it means validating and clarifying your product features, it means effectively communicating to customers the value your product has to offer them, and ultimately it means revenue. It’s critical to be thinking of your customer from the very beginning - that may mean honing your selling skills or bringing a salesperson into your founding team.  Troy offers this scenario to help further illustrate the point:

Imagine two startups: one with no sales experience on the founding team, so they hire a hotshot sales person; the other company already has a hotshot sales person as part of the founding team. The first company hires the sales person, but when sales do not start rolling in, what do they do? They fire the sales person; they need to find a better one, obviously. The second company sends their founder out and she can’t sell the product, what do they do? Do they fire the founder? No, the founder comes back and gets development to fix the product. This is a fundamentally different dynamic. This is the feedback loop of successful companies.

Remember, it’s not enough to know you have an amazing idea. Customers must be exposed to your product, then believe in it enough to buy it. For the sustainability of your business, simply put, sales matter.

Read the entire article here and let us know in the comments how your approached sales in your startup!

Photo: trekandshoot/