Advice: "I joined a startup, but they don't have product-market fit and I'm not closing any deals"

Want to submit a question and be featured in our advice column? Click here. (Don't worry, you'll remain completely anonymous).

Dear Quota Team

Less than a year ago, I was recruited by the CEO of a small technology startup to come join their sales team, which was being put together at the time. I agreed because of the promises of equity and the ability to become part of a founding team that would eventually grow.

Since then, the woman who was brought in as the head of sales has quit, as have two other reps. Now, it’s only me and another sales rep who are left. And we only started “selling” a few months ago. The rest of the time was spent waiting for engineering to release new features, so we were basically acting as customer success for all of our free trial participants.

Now that we’re starting to sell, it feels like the product is a nice-to-have and not a need-to-have. This is coming directly from our trial customers as well as the new leads which me and the other sales rep have sourced ourselves. The CEO said he hears us, but that we need to get more customers in the pipeline so we can start earning revenue. 

I am wondering if I made the right decision coming here, and, more importantly, whether I should stick it out and see what happens or find a job with a company that is actually closing deals. My base pay here is actually pretty good, and my personal expenses are low so I can stick it out, but I am looking for a career and am wondering if I’m just wasting my time. Thanks in advance. 

Pondering on the East coast 


Dear Pondering,

The answer depends on whether you want to prioritize learning and having an impact, or climbing the traditional career and income ladder. And to be clear: there is no right answer. Different people want different things. The key is to align your decisions with your personal goals.

Even if it’s hard to sell your current product, you’re learning things that can’t be learned anywhere else. The early-stage experience you’re getting can show you how to build a sales organization, develop a process, and, just as importantly, what not to do when building a company. You can take this experience anywhere, whether it’s to another startup, or to starting your own business somewhere down the line. And, who knows, there’s a chance your company figures out the product and takes off.

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for The Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.