Sales Academy for Founders (September 2021)
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How We Write Investor Updates… That Don’t Suck 🥱

Transparent sales process - working together

How would you summarize your company’s ethos in a single sentence? 

It’s not easy. It can’t be forced. And usually comes organically. 

Despite including made-up words (🤷), Accord’s “Vendorship → Partnership” perfectly describes the core idea & energy driving everything we do. 

This idea of building real, human relationships through collaboration & transparency doesn’t just stop at sales. It extends to your practices across recruiting, product development, GTM, and every external interaction.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that company culture proliferates into every nook and cranny of a business, which can be seen in micro and macro artifacts that reflect the culture you’re building. From job descriptions, hiring loops, product development processes, how you communicate with prospects & customers – and even your investor relations (where we’ll be focusing today).

Although funding rounds, valuations, and top tier VC firms drive the news each day in the tech ecosystem, I’ve yet to read anything about where the rubber meets the road related to building great relationships with investors once a Term Sheet is signed. There’s an awful lot of best practices of getting deals done, but very little on debatably the most important piece of the funding puzzle for founders & startups.

I’m far from being an expert on this topic, but thought that sharing the Vendorship → Partnership perspective & artifacts related to this key relationship would be helpful to both sides of the table.

Investor Update Structure

1. Intro
Frame the month or quarter in a brief 2-3 paragraph narrative.

2. Ask

A single, simple ask that could move the needle for your team.

3. Image

Recommend something with real people from your company. We often use GIFs to include a few key images which also makes it more engaging.

4. Highlights 

  • If folks don’t read further, what are the major developments & progress made?
  • Focus on what really matters for the company TODAY. If you’re super early and still in team & product building mode, don’t focus on ACV. If you’re scaling to $10M, maybe leave out all the features you shipped.

5. Key Learnings

1-2 game changing takeaways you learned that month/quarter.

6. Product Dev

Focus on the WHY these are important vs just features. What big things did you ship and what was the impact?

7. Team Updates

Who joined, open roles, etc

8. GTM Updates

  • Traction, key deals, GTM approach changes
  • Top of funnel
  • Bottom of funnel

9. Other Key Metrics

  • Can differ from business to business but some suggestions: Runway (months left), money in bank, ARR, # of customers, usage, etc

Tone

  • IMHO reading the update should feel more like you’re speaking directly to the audience vs a formal memo. It should match your tone, style, and way of thinking about the business.
  • From what I’ve heard from investors, most are super boring and don’t help them understand what’s really going on with the business. Have fun with it and add color outside of just the numbers! 🤠
  • Keep it clear & concise.

Cadence

Up to what you feel like is right here, but imagine that monthly is probably right for post Series A startups. We do quarterly at the moment but will likely move to monthly once we raise our A.

Distribution

  • Startups have vastly differing comfort levels – from full stealth to building in the public.
  • We decided to go wider and include existing investors, as well as select prospective users, investors, and key hires. 
  • This is especially impactful in the early days as, for example, you’re building relationships with your first 50 customers. Some decision makers might want to see more progress or understand the business better. Including them in updates creates trust over time, which is needed to get those early deals done – especially if they’re a larger company and taking a risk on you.

Download Investor Update Template

Accord's Q3 Update

Hi friends & supporters 👋,

To start, I’d like to share a huge THANK YOU for the generous support given during Accord’s GA launch – which somehow already feels like a lifetime ago rather than just 7 weeks!

We wrapped up the summer with another transformational quartner. Doubling ARR since launch, growing the Accordion crew another 40%, meeting everyone for the first time(!), and hitting many other exciting milestones – see Highlights below.
Accord wouldn’t be making these strides without your continued support, referrals, and guidance 🙏.

️️⭐️ ASK️ ⭐️

️Intros to Founders & Sales Leaders at scaling Seed & Series A startups who need to figure out their repeatable sales & onboarding process.

Meeting the entire Accordion crew for the first time and launching together?!  Definitely the highlight of Q3 and an unforgettable moment in Accord’s journey!


Highlights 🙌

Key Learnings 🤔

  • So much was learned from our transition from a purely sales-led to free trial GTM flow this past quarter. Overall, it validated that this is how our buyers want to evaluate, explore, and make their decision on using a platform like Accord. Letting them get their hands on the product and share with their team during the sales-assisted free trial dramatically accelerated deal velocity, conversion from our site, and started the partnership on the right foot.

Product Development 🚢

  • Focus on onboarding & activating users vs building net-new features in Q3.
  • New internal self-service workflow to onboard customers (free trials).
  • R&D updates:
  • Completed all SOC2 controls to enter the audit period.
  • Self service user management.
  • Playbooks for better Accord creation.
  • Approved Templates to streamline repeatable process.

Team Updates 🕺💃

  • Onboarded 4 new Accordions!
  • Engineers, Shelley & Ralph.
  • Marketing lead, Mari.
  • SDR lead, Sandra.

GTM Updates 🤝

  • Doubled ARR & increased # of users by 50% driven by launch and expansion.  
  • ACV: $4k → $6k. Deal velocity: 30 → 20 days.
  • 200+ trial requests in the last 2 months.

- Ross, Ryan & Wayne