Great companies are made from great leaders and great leaders bring a variety of skills to the table. In today's startup world where developing your customers trumps developing your product you would think that a leader with a healthy dose of sales chops would be an instant winner.
Too much reliance on your sales skills can actually hurt your long-term prospects for your company. Here's why.
As a seasoned sales professional, you have the ability to convince someone to do something despite the inherent friction of your startup. What friction? How about a product that is not polished? Or an onboarding process that is manual and people based. What about those key partners that are not in place as yet that extend the value of your idea to its fullest. You push and promise past those friction points as you have done a hundred times before. Your company is ready for lift-off, right?
Not so fast. At this time, you are relying on your sales skills to get those first sets of beta customers to use your product. Maybe you even convinced them to pay for this. Congratulations! Your company is off and running with paid beta users. You created product-market validation. Or did you?
Beware. Those first customers are typically your former customers, or friends, or crazy early-adopters who are buying in for reasons outside the norm. They trust you based on your prior relationship not necessarily on your current offering. Their signing on serves as a false positive and over-reading this success will be detrimental to building the product that your market requires.
Sheer force of presence--the natural state of a great sales person--is not an indicator of future company success. Evaluate your early success based on a variety of customers especially those with no prior links and you then hedge those sales abilities.