Earlier this week I was talking to one of the top SaaS entrepreneurs in town about his experience from a simple start at the Atlanta Tech Village five years ago to raising $75 million last year. We got into a discussion about team, stream, and not a meme and I realized my previous definition of the team element was incorrect. Before, I characterized it as a heroic sales person and a heroic product person.
The heroic sales person brings in deals with lots of passion and vision, yet has an incomplete product. The heroic product person builds the product on the fly while delighting customers all the while. My phrasing it as the heroic sales person was wrong.
What’s the right way to describe this person? They’re the amazing go-to-market leader. Acquiring customers happens through a variety of channels. What matters, especially early on, is finding one channel that works. The go-to-market leader could be great at selling directly, generating demand through road shows, or generating quality leads through search marketing. In the end, the result is a steady flow of people that want to buy the product.
Pair the amazing go-to-market person with the amazing product person and you have the most successful founding team combination. The ultimate co-founder complement is combining someone who can attract customers with someone who can delight them.
What else? What are some more thoughts on the best co-founder combination being a go-to-market person and a product person?
4 thoughts on “Co-Founder Complement: Go-To-Market + Product Experts”
I think go-to-market leader appropriately characterizes the requirement. I’d add that soon after the go-to-market leader and product leader generate traction, a customer success leader also becomes a requirement. A growth equity investor in town mentioned to me yesterday that “one of the biggest mistakes a growing company can make is to put sales ahead of customer success”. My experience suggests he’s right.
This sounds like a familiar story. With that said I think the real answer is that it depends. It depends on a combination of the product and the ideal customer profile. If your ICP and product offering is more high volume and transactional in nature a go-to-market leader might be best. If it is more enterprise-focused your heroic sales leader might do a better job of getting traction. The skill sets of a heroic sales leader and a go-to-market leader are very different. The person that possesses all those skills is very rare.
Really good stuff here. That perfect combo, although extremely hard to find, can really create magic if implemented properly.
Thanks David for yet another impactful post! As enterprise buying cycles increasingly begin via customer community and field events, a holistic approach to net new sales is spot-on. More thought on this topic here: https://webcasts.business2community.com/events/scale-upmarket-enterprise-field-sales