Earlier today I was talking with a startup executive that’s worked for several successful CEOs. Towards the end of the conversation I asked how he would characterize the CEOs and their styles. Easy, he said, there are the product CEOs and the sales CEOs.
Here’s a simple generalization of the product and sales CEO in a startup:
- Product CEOs – They love the thrill of inventing new things and new ways to help customers while generally spending most of their time with the R&D team. Often, they have an engineering or analytical degree.
- Sales CEOs – They love the thrill of closing a new customer and figuring out how to win more deals while generally spending most of their time with the sales team (see the SaaStr post on Hyperaggressiveness). Often, they were a sales executive before becoming a startup CEO.
The next time you meet with a startup CEO, see if you can figure out if they’re generally product focused or sales focused. Most fall into one of these two buckets.
What else? What are some more thoughts on product or sales focused startup CEOs?