Sales Roles for B2B Startups

Traction is the single most important metric for a startup to scale and grow. Large organizations have a formal structure for creating and growing sales pipeline. Startups, on the other hand, are short on resources to invest in Sales Teams and that compounds the problem of Traction for startups.

A typical startup is a team of 2-4 with each co-founder wearing multiple hats. More often than not, the CEO will also be the Head of Business Development and Sales. This often creates Sales Myopia as the founders end up focusing only on short-term tactics and miss the long-term goals.

Most Startups fail to acknowledge that CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales are three different roles in the sales function. To build a robust sales pipeline these roles need to be addressed in parallel.

The roles of CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales are overlapping and one may end up stepping on other’s toe. One easy way to decide ‘who does what’ is by the time impact of these roles on the sales pipeline.

Sales Roles for B2B Startups

CEO should typically be doing things that add to the sales pipeline in 12-18 months. Making connections that may turn into a lead, establishing thought leadership by presenting papers, networking for the long term etc.

Head of Business Development should be looking 6-12 months down the line. viz. converting the network into leads, participating in trade shows, creating collaterals for new products etc.

Head of Sales should be responsible for all activities that impact sales pipeline in the next 6 months. Setting up Demos, Tracking leads, Negotiations etc.

This is the ideal scenario, practically, 1 person wears these 3 hats in a startup, In that case the Founder CEO should split their time in the 3 roles – a split like 15:25:60 between CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales usually works fine.

Bhaskar Thakur

Digital Transformation & Marketing Leader , Growth Enabler, Recreational Runner, Learner & Seeker. On this blog I share my perspective on Technology, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Growth, Health, Running and Biking.