The Case for Engaging a Fractional Sales Leader Early
As a startup founder, you wear many hats, including the sales hat. In the early days of your company, you are the first salesperson. Your startup mentors at the Accelerator and your investors have told you – whether you have the experience or not – to be out there selling.
For one, you know your product or service inside and out, and you have the passion and drive to sell it to anyone who will listen. But as your company grows, you may wonder if you are the best person to lead your sales efforts. Should you bring in a professional sales leader, or should you continue to lead sales yourself?
There are many reasons why it makes sense for the founder to be the first sales leader. They have a deep understanding of the product or service and the problem it solves. This knowledge and passion can be infectious, and it can inspire customers and employees alike. Additionally, the founder is often the face of the company, and their personal brand and reputation can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers.
The founder is also more invested in the success of the company than anyone else. They have put their blood, sweat, and tears into building the company from scratch and have a deep sense of ownership and responsibility for its success. This level of commitment can be a powerful motivator and can help to drive sales, especially when things get tough.
While these are certainly advantages to having the founder lead sales efforts, there are also some compelling reasons to bring in a professional sales leader, especially as the company grows. What are the benefits of having a VP of Sales or CRO on the executive team early in the growth journey? For one, sales is a complex and specialized discipline, and it requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. While the founder may be a great visionary and product person, they may not have the experience or expertise to effectively manage and scale a sales organization.
Founders often are in love with their product to the point that they are too close to sell it effectively. They may have a tendency to oversell or overpromise, or they may struggle to step back and objectively evaluate the client’s true needs and the product’s strengths and weaknesses. Bringing in an outside sales leader can help to provide a fresh and outside perspective and ensure that the company’s sales efforts are more grounded in reality.
Additionally, a professional sales leader can help to free up the founder’s time and energy to focus on other areas of the business. Sales is a time-consuming and demanding discipline, and it can be difficult to balance sales responsibilities with other important tasks like product development, fundraising, and hiring; think, ‘working on the business, not in the business.’ By bringing in a sales leader, the founder can delegate sales responsibilities to someone who is better equipped to handle them, allowing the founder to focus on their core strengths.
Hence, bring in a sales leader early. The way to do this is fractional. Fractionalizing work at the executive level allows for a different growth model. Instead of staffing up in large steps, you can add the necessary talent and skills sooner and in the right increments. Founders do not have to wait until they can afford the fully loaded cost of an executive to get started.
Taking smaller steps actually leads to faster growth because:
- The right skills are in place just when you need them, not when you can afford them.
- There is no loss in productivity due to multitasking or suboptimal talent.
- At any time, the skills can be right-sized for the needs of the business.
And, in closing, the idea of bringing in a fractional sales leader is not just mine, but it is one gaining wide acceptance in today’s marketplace:
“Hiring a fractional sales leader is an ideal solution for startups looking to grow their sales without the overhead of a full-time sales team. It allows startups to tap into the expertise and experience of a sales leader without the commitment of a full-time hire.” – Forbes
“It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of being a startup founder, but it’s important to remember that you can’t do everything on your own. Bringing in a Fractional Sales Leader can help to take some of the pressure off and allow you to focus on what you do best.” – Inc.
“A Fractional Sales Leader can help to establish the sales processes and metrics that are necessary for a company to scale. By setting up a sales infrastructure early on, a Fractional Sales Leader can help a company to achieve long-term success.” – Entrepreneur
About the Author
Henning Schwinum is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Vendux LLC. Vendux helps growth-minded Founders, Owners, and CEOs grow their sales leadership capital by using Vendux’s proprietary PerfectMatch™ system to identify the ideal sales leader for each business’s unique requirements.