The Sales-Oriented and Technically Proficient CEO

When I think of the most successful startup CEOs I know, they all have a common thread: they are sales-oriented with a strong technical understanding of how things work. By sales-oriented, I mean that they enjoy and value the sales process. While some are more salesy than others, they all would do well in a standalone sales role.

The other, almost as important piece, is that they are technically proficient. Some have written code and some haven’t, but every one of them loves technology and can tell you exactly how their product works. I call this being technically proficient. Think of it as having the technical understanding necessary to be a sales engineer, but not a full software engineer.

So, for aspiring entrepreneurs that haven’t done sales, figure out how to get some sales experience, even if it’s as simple as having a hobby business on the side where you have to repeatedly sell something. For aspiring entrepreneurs that aren’t technically proficient, sign up for Codecademy and build and run a simple Rails app on Heroku.

Think of the most successful tech CEOs you’ve worked with. Do they fit this bill? I bet they do.

What else? What are some other thoughts on the sales-oriented and technically proficient CEO?

2 thoughts on “The Sales-Oriented and Technically Proficient CEO

  1. Crazy bad advice my friend. The CEO has to have mastery of sales and sales management. This is the talent in short supply. It takes a decade plus to be great in sales. Products are commodities or will be shortly. You of all people know this.

    ” Nothing happens until someone sells something “

  2. I agree with you David and here is my personal take on it. CEO must be able to act as a CMO or CGO (read sales & marketing leader in simple terms) in standalone role however as far as Technology & Product is concerned, more than being able to code, the CEO should have deep understanding of the technology, product foot-print & its implications to the future of its company. I personally am of that DNA and felt more at ease when I filled the gap if any related to understanding the technology, product foot-print whether I led practice, BU or a company. Great post! Thanks.

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