Aug 14th, 2019
Techstars Austin Managing Director Amos Schwartzfarb's book Sell More Faster is the definitive guide to startup sales.
You know your startup needs to sell, sell, sell. Sell More Faster by Amos Schwartzfarb helps you do this by offering a data-driven map for how to find product-market fit, how to know when you’ve achieved it, and how to use it to build a powerhouse company. Sell More Faster is the ultimate guide for startups about how to find, and keep the customers who need what you are selling.
We talked with Amos about how he became the expert in startup sales, and what he hoped to achieve by writing Sell More Faster.
Amos likens Sell More Faster to a “really good recipe book.” In other words, he’s laid out the ingredients and instructions, and now it’s up to you to bake the cake: “I took my process and thought: how do I create a really simple-to-follow recipe for startup sales success?” The result is this simple-to-read, simple-to-understand, simple-to-implement text that lays out a meticulous series of steps for asking yourself hard questions and gathering actual data about your customers, in order to make them need you.
No magic tricks, no cult of personality, nothing impossible to replicate: if you follow the instructions in Sell More Faster, you will end up with customers who, in Amos’ words, “have a delightful and incredible experience and stay forever.”
Either that, or you’ll figure out quickly that you don’t have truly product-market fit, so you can address that problem now, rather than later, when it’s a much bigger problem. No matter where you are now, it’s always a much bigger problem later.
“There is no better expert at startup selling than Amos Schwartzfarb. Follow his advice.” —Aziz Gilani, Managing Director at Mercury Fund
If you look at Amos’ career, you can see how he ended up as an expert in startup sales.
“I’ve been doing customer research for this book for the past twenty years,” Amos said. Over those years he’s been responsible for sales or customer satisfaction at six startups—with a combined exit value of over $900 million—and then taken on the role of Managing Director for Techstars Austin for the past four years. He’s one of the most active early-stage investors in all of Texas.
At Techstars, Amos found that other MDs often asked him to come and do workshops or talk to the startups in their programs about sales issues. He discovered he was getting the same set of questions over and over again, so he started creating workshops and writing blog posts, hoping to scale his ability to share knowledge.
The problem with workshops and blog posts is that they’re too short. Startups need to develop a strong foundation and then build on it: it’s a process. Amos could describe the basic principles, but “there were always a lot of questions.” This is because what you need to do depends on where you’re at in the process, so it was difficult to create a workshop or a blog post that met everyone’s needs.
Sell More Faster preemptively answers the questions that Amos got time and time again giving live workshops, and describes the process in detail: “I want startup founders to understand the path they need to go down to put the principles into practice.”
That’s when Amos realized he had a book he needed to write.
For one thing, while you can, and should, read the whole thing right away, be aware that the chapters build on each other: you won’t be able to take the actions in the later chapters until you’ve built the foundation described in the early chapters. Sell More Faster isn’t just a book you read—it’s a book you do.
The entire act of entrepreneurship can be understood as one grand exercise in experiential learning. Entrepreneurs must constantly be learning in order to keep their companies growing. What works today, at this stage and in this market, won’t work tomorrow—either because your company has changed or the market’s changed. (This is one reason why startup accelerators are so useful—they’re basically guided experiential learning, tailored to your company.)
Sell More Faster is a guide to experiential learning around one specific piece of the startup journey. As Amos puts it, “Sell More Faster doesn’t teach you how to sell. It teaches you who you can sell to and how to build a sales organization over time.”
At Techstars, one of our oft-repeated mantras is that you need to slow down in order to speed up. Yes, speed is essential to any startup—it’s one of the big advantages that startups have over big companies. But if you’re not going in the right direction, all that speed will get you nowhere.
Here are a few of Amos’ key points to help you slow down in order to speed up:
You think you know who your customer is, but you don’t really know yet.
You think you know what they’re buying from you, but you don’t really know yet.
You think you know why they’re buying from you, but you don’t really know yet.
This who, what, and why are the W3 framework that Amos lays out—the “secret sauce” of Sell More Faster. Amos turns these insights into actionable instructions that get you to a point where you do know who your customer is, what they’re buying from you, and why.
Amos’ process helps you form a strong opinion of who your customer is and what they’re buying from you. “Until you have an opinion about this, you have nothing to test against,” Amos explained. The testing part is crucial because your first theories are probably not fully correct: “No one nails it on the first time.” And that first salesperson you hire? They’re actually a customer development person—and understanding the difference between these two things is deeply important.
Every step in the process laid out in Sell More Faster guides you to form theories and then helps you understand exactly how to test them. There are plenty of articles out there that will tell you to gather data and test your theories—but Sell More Faster explains how. This is the difference between unhelpful advice and required reading.
This all sounds great, but how does it work in practice? Companies that Amos has worked with, including Scalefactor, Showbotics, Storyfit, and Skipper, have all benefited from this process. You can read their stories in the book. And you can read the first chapter of Sell More Faster right now, and see for yourself whether the W3 Method makes sense to you. Then you can buy the book for the rest of the process.
Accountability 101: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Developing an Accountable Organization
Coronavirus Stimulus Impacts Student Entrepreneurs
11 Tips for Startup Survival During COVID-19
Updates and Advice on COVID-19 from The Techstars Network
Funded & Fearless Females: AMA for Startup Fundraising During COVID-19