Hiring the first sales leader is a critical but challenging task for startup founders. The two most common mistakes when making this hire are:
1. Overweight industry experience. Under-evaluate sales leadership skills: Often, with minimal domain knowledge on selling, we as product founders base this hiring decision largely on the candidate’s experience in our industry. However, this lens is extraordinarily insufficient. We end up with a poor sales leader from our industry. We would have been much better off with a great sales leader from outside of our industry.
2. Hire a leader appropriate for 10 years out versus 2 years out: The other common mistake we make as startup founders is hiring a leader too far beyond our current stage. Even though our goal is to scale from $5 million to $20 million over the next two years, we are pressured by our investors to hire someone that has taken a company to $100 million. By pursuing this strategy, we struggle to convince candidates to join us, over-pay for what we need, and end up with a leader that implements processes appropriate for a $100 million company into one that is at $5 million.
This workbook is intended to enable founders with minimal sales experience to successfully hire their first sales leader. The workbook guides founders through 3 steps: Role Definition, Hiring Scorecard, and Evaluation Process.