We have been selling a best of breed EMR, primarily within the state, we are looking into a product conversion to pursue a new market that we feel the product will work extremely well in, it is a significant growth market and we will be pursuing financing for the marketing/sales effort.
Right now our sales efforts are very limited, most of our sales have been obtained through local networking. Should we focus on on recruiting a full-time sales director as an equity partner/cofounder or take on an adviser to help secure financing, with a plan to hire sales reps?
It appears that you have already have something that's working with your local networking strategy. Perhaps, you may want to think of how to expand that strategy even further as you move into this new space. Are there more events, associations, partnerships, sponsorships, etc. that you haven't looked into?
In my experience with working with sales teams, sometimes the "big shot sales director" only wants to direct a sales team and not actually do the "grunt" work of being out there selling. If you decide to go the sales director route, it might be essential to ensure that you both share the same passion/vision and the person is willing to work just as much as much as the junior level sales reps, this is especially important as it will most likely take a while to develop and train a sales team.
The advisory option means that you'd have to manage your hired sales force so it becomes a question of opportunity cost when it comes to your time. On the other hand, it may give you access to working capital not available today.
Good luck :) I'd be interested to know what you end up going with.
If I infer correctly, your current sales in the current space are without a sales leader specifically. I am also inferring that you have a new vertical you want to pursue. If that is correct, investors will want to see traction in the new market you are pursuing.
If your revenue plan is hinged on sales (as it should be) you need a sales professional in building and executing that plan, especially if you are asking investors to fund the plan. If you and your current team will not be responsible for capital deployment into sales, they will want to know who is responsible. They will not accept "we will find someone if you invest".
I wouldn't recommend any of those choices. I'd add other stuff to your menu first. Your description is common among companies at a certain stage, you need more sales to fund the business, but you need more funds to get more sales. It seems hard to know which direction to turn.
This is usually a symptom that has nothing to do actually with sales. It's most often a marketing strategy and product development issue. Adding more inefficient salespeople does not generate better sales. Doing the back-end work to develop a marketing strategy that guides your product development and enables sales is what needs to happen.
Adding more features to your product isn't the solution, adding value is. More isn't better. And reacting to customer requests isn't necessarily better either. The leanest, most reliable product that gets no more resources to add features will usually outperform a software company that reacts to what it thinks people will want. Product development is about delivering a reliable, narrow product until you absolutely can't get by without adding something EVERYONE (or at least almost everyone) is demanding because they can't live without it anymore. The nice-to-have's aren't nice to have if the company spends its resources building software that it can't sell easily.
Someone organizing an inefficient sales team isn't going to generate more sales. What will generate more sales is a hard look at whether the product really matches what customers need. When you say "we feel the product will work well" it's a big red flag. If you haven't tested how the product alterations will change customer opinions (before doing development), then you've gotten ahead in your enthusiasm and will be inevitably disappointed, unless you have extraordinary luck.
What resources you have on-hand now are best spend really doing your market testing work, not development work. You should probably freeze all development immediately, except for known bugs, and put all of your resources into really understanding exactly what customers want to buy. Stop imagining what they want, and actually get out there and have them show you where they struggle and what they do to overcome those obstacles today. It will be incredibly valuable to your future to get the product aimed correctly instead of hiring more salespeople trying to sell something that's not quite a perfect match, even if it's different from what else is out there.