Armand Farrokh
October 13, 2023

Some of you may know, I often advise early-stage founders and sales teams, calling on my experience leading Pave’s sales organization from $100k to $10M and beyond.

Whether you’re a founder, want to start your own company, or plan on joining an early- stage team — it’s critical to understand that your job as an early-stage AE is not closing revenue, it’s finding Sales-Market-Fit.

Finding Sales-Market-Fit (SMF) is as important as finding Product-Market-Fit (PMF).

Many early-stage sales hires don’t make it because they treat it like any other sales job, when the reality is that your job is to taste test multiple slices of the market, then teach your CEO which slices to triple down on and how.

When advising founders on finding GTM predictability, I often help them align

three sets of stars. Here’s how you can do it too.

1. Persona-Market-Fit

Who are the PEOPLE who have the rare combination of having massive problems while also being able to drive a sale? Who are the COMPANIES that represent the sweet spot where deals move both big and fast?

In the beginning, many startups will close $500 and $50,000 deals across a million industries and personas. This is the right thing to do at the beginning. Eventually, you must identify the common trends and strike non-ICP deals off your list to create SPEED in your sales.

Every week, run an outbound campaign on one slice of the market. If it bombs, try it again. If it bombs, cross it off the list, it’s non-ICP. Every week, look at who your deals started with. If every deal dies in the Recruiting Department but survives in People Operations… STOP PROSPECTING THE RECRUITING TEAM.

2. Problem-Market-Fit

If you run 20 discovery calls with the right personas above, can you find a repeatable set of problems that allow you to turn 10 of them into real opportunities?

Many times, founders have locked in their product vision too early -- only to find that they pitch 20 times, and only 1 customer actually cares.

It’s critical that you allow your product to be fluid in the early stages and focus on PROBLEM first, PRODUCT second.

Sign the right deals that flex your product in the direction of product market fit.

3. Process-Market-Fit

But I often hear founders saying “They’re telling me they love us and this is painful but the deal is going nowhere.”

You can have the right personas and hit all the right problems, but if you don’t know how to get to power and secure budget, it doesn’t matter.

It’s critical that founders identify 'The Golden Path’ — how do you take an opinionated stance on what meetings you ask your prospect to take and who you ask them to introduce you to?

A founder perfects this when they find themselves teaching their prospects to buy instead of running 1000 demos to whoever their prospects desire.

How To Close Deals Using The Golden Path

Everything you need to start a deal at power, win over the key department leads, and drive it home.