Any startupeer knows that sales= snappy new tabi boots. Oh, and survival. It's time to look at how you should, could and really need to sell. (If you are a geek/engineer founder, especially take note!)
When I looked into selling for fun and profit, and yet again, had to give props to Dharmesh Shaw at OnStartups.com. (I wonder if he's part ninja as well....?) See his Building Startup Sales Teams blog entry.
I could not agree with all the points more. Having done more than my fair share of tech start ups, mostly founded, run and maintained by engineers and the rest of us geeky types, I see a common, related- and sometimes fatal- mistake. It is far too easy to let the new sales person tail wag the dog. Just to get this out of the way, let me state the obvious: No sales person, or any UFO, will save you. It's not that easy. Suck it up and let's look at where you really stand.
Even though the founders do grok the product, the market, how they are going to save the world, jump over buildings in a single bound, etc., there is still a tendency to think that sales people know much more about sales, and to equate it to a dark art. Once sales people get in place, the founders forget that they were pimping the product way before the it was stable, feasible or that they were able to pay the overdue electricity bill. I have fallen into this amnesia trap many, many times.
While sales people and rainmakers often play big a part in the evolution of a startup, there's not just one way to get the job done. And we need to remember that. Our agility got us this far, no?
But, when you do find the sales partner that you need, like any core team member, you better be ready to run errands for them and pick up their kids from school. I build businesses like family. It is work but it works. Sure, there's a lot of yelling and borrowing each other's cars, and it takes some skill and lots of patience, but I'm just saying that if you decide to get married, don't leave 'em at the altar. In our out, buddy. You wouldn't want your new sales person/team to do that to your customers, would you? A startup, like all areas of seeming impossibility, needs love.
Just don't let it be a shotgun marriage. Nothing is dire and you're far from knocked-up. Really, always remember that, as a startupeer, you are already one part idiot and one part superhero.
Just do what you've must to get these sales in the bag. And, just like adopting new team members, it's best to be ready to feed and water your new sales as well.
But enough from me. I'm off to go marry Voxida, Accurate Always' communication recording system, to another little/big call center that could.
By all means, keep starting up! -kate