20 June 2020

Startup Flight #4: I have a product company. But I don’t sell a product.

Hi there! My name is Charlotte and I’m Co-Founder & CEO of Equalture (a hiring software that leverages gamification to debias hiring for SMBs) and living in the most beautiful city in the world: Rotterdam. Being an entrepreneur for 4 years now and building my second company together with my twin sister, I get a lot of questions from other founders and people thinking about starting their own company.

Since I believe that every single founder experience can be helpful to other founders, I decided to translate these frequently asked questions into a blog series: Startup Flight.

In this fourth blog: Why I’m, as a founder of a product company, do not sell a product (introducing vision-selling)

See this picture?

That’s my very own team — we call it The Equalture Crew. And this isn’t even a complete picture, because we have two more rockstars joining next week.

‘’Okay, but what has this picture to do with your product?’’

Well, for the people who are reading this blog and don’t know us yet: here at Equalture we‘re developing a predictive hiring platform, enabling scaling companies to build the right team composition that secures sustainable growth. We do so by helping our customers (i) identify their team’s need in order to determine the next ideal hire, (ii) predict the fit of your candidates with this ideal next hire profile and (iii) ultimately hire the best people.

At the end of this blog post I will come back to this picture, but first let’s take a look at how we are actually selling our product.

Feature-selling vs. solution-selling vs. vision-selling

Depending on your company’s proposition you will probably focus either on feature-selling or solution-selling. Especially in SaaS it’s very popular to focus on features since most SaaS companies are a concrete solution to a pain that their customers were already very aware of (you experience a problem, google this problem and find a top 5 SaaS solutions for it).

We knew from day one, however, that for our product this approach wouldn’t work, because Equalture is a completely new product in the market — both in terms of feature set, but also in terms of the ‘spot’ we have in the hiring funnel, as well as the novelty of the solution we offer for a long-existing problem. In other words: although HR-professionals are facing the problem of making poor hiring decisions already for decades, the type of solution that we offer isn’t a solution they that would have come up with. So that means it’s new. And for something new you need to explain why it has the right to exist.

When to use which selling-method

In my opinion (note: I’m definitely not an expert, so you might disagree with me), these are the main differences between the three selling-methods mentioned above:

Image for post

To summarise, I believe that the newer your solution is, the more you will be at the right side of this table. And the more competitors you have, the more you will be on the left side of the table.

So, this is how I start a meeting with a prospect.

‘’Did you take a look at our about us-page on the website? Well, that’s the reason why we started this company.’’

I never show prospects a demo. And I never talk in detail about features. I just tell them why we started this company. Why we believe that we solve the actual problem behind a prospect’s perceived problem.

Because the problem of our customers isn’t the fact that they don’t always hire the people they actually need to scale their company. Their problem is that they don’t know (i) how to determine the ideal next hire to enrich their team and (ii) how to predict whether a candidate fits with this ‘ideal profile’ — resulting in poor decision. So that’s what we solve. We help companies (i) identify their current team in order to determine the ‘ideal profile of the next hire’, and (ii) predict the fit of each candidate based on this ideal profile.

I don’t want my prospects to leave a meeting with a crystal clear overview of how our product works. I want them to leave the meeting realising why they need this product. And that’s vision-selling.

Alright, let’s go back to that picture for the last time.

So our product is all about people. Because companies are all about people. A company’s team is the bridge between having a dream and conquering the world with this exact same dream.

And so that’s what this picture has to do with my product. This is why companies should use our product. Because we are the actual proof that it works. I hired all team members through our own product, and now these team members enabled us to experience an exponential growth curve.

So that’s why I don’t sell a product. I just sell the explanation of a picture, because that picture is what our company is all about. And to me that’s what vision-selling is all about.

Hopefully this blog has given you some food for thought about which selling-method you now focus on and if this is actually the right one to focus on.

Cheers, Charlotte