Cofounder · Hiring

What to look for in a sales co-founder?

Frank Goortani Founder of

September 23rd, 2018

I'm a sole technical founder and I've been working on my startup for almost a year now ( - feedbacks are highly appreciated) and I'm at a stage where I need help in the sales and business development area as I cannot keep up with the amount of work.

To paint a detailed picture, my startup is a marketplace and my sales is B2B but in a wide range of business sizes.

I have two questions:

1- What should I be looking for in the candidates?

2- If I'm to hire someone instead, what salary range would make sense for a position that leads the sales?


Christopher Conrad Taking great ideas, breaking them down, making them amazing businesses

Last updated on September 23rd, 2018

Hustle, sales experience (leadership and in the trenches), and someone who is willing to be with you through non-sales designing and planning.

Salary for a founder should be the last thing they ask for. They should be compensated for non-sales activities, but commissions and getting traction should be their passion. If you are not close to selling your solution/product beware that apathy could set in.

Richard Beck

Last updated on September 29th, 2018

Let's step back and look at the situation....

Based on your post, you have the MVP up and running..... You're all set for now in that area.

So, what do you really, really need?

A business partner?

A Sales Director (employee)?

A Biz Dev pro (employee)?

I'd suggest none of the above!

You need sales... plain and simple.

I'd bring on someone who has Sales and Biz Dev experience that you pay on a favorable commission basis... with an option to "buy in" at very attractive prices in six, twelve and eighteen months after certain monthly quotas are consistently met.

What you're essentially doing is... paying for results.

All good salespeople realize they are highly paid for results... not for warming a desk, punching a clock or "looking" busy... and no results means no pay. That is the nature of Sales.

Paying on commission also has some awesome benefits... You have no need to "keep tabs" on anyone, their work hours or their focus. They decide when they work, how hard they work... and ultimately how much they make.

This frees you up to focus on your job.... improving your venture's Technology.

Mario Veraldo Managing Director, Mexico and Middle America at Maersk Line

September 23rd, 2018

Frank, a commercial cofounder is probably the most difficult hiring you will need to have as it has to be someone with the ability to pitch your idea and show the same passion you have. The sales process knowledge is key as B2B usually demands funneling as well as prioritization of sales opportunities - not only the pitch. As for salary it depends on the size and complexity of your sales force. It might be interesting to think compensation beyond salaries for a lead sales person.

Mike Willman Ecommerce Manager at Medical Equipment Dynamics

September 24th, 2018

Are you sure that you really need a sales minded cofounder? As the CEO you should be trying to get to the point where you are focused primarily on strategic planning and high level sales. You may be far better off at this early stage to bring on a technical cofounder who can assume a lot of the technical responsibilities. In my experience it is almost impossible to find a top quality head of sales at such an early stage, as they can just as easily work for an established company that already has revenue. In most cases you are better off focusing on generating some revenue and growing the business until you have the funds to attract a top VP of Sales to take over your sales organization.

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

September 23rd, 2018

1. The most important quality in any candidate is actual job performance. What you can (and should) do is to agree on a trial period, say 3 weeks (duration mostly depends on the type of clients), in which a candidate is expected to demonstrate his/her ability to do the job. Since you already have a product, that means getting actual clients on board. In any case, you should have a simple agreement for the trial period, clearly defining the start and end date for the trials, stating that after the trial period ends both sides go their separate ways and no one owes anything to the other side (some symbolic compensations are okay, if you can afford it, but for goodness sake don't offer any equity, however small, for the work during the trial period), unless both sides decide to continue working together and craft a permanent agreement (with vesting, NDA, non-compete, and all that).

It's important to begin the trial period as soon as possible, right after the first meeting with the candidate, unless you have a strong feeling that you two are simply not compatible on a personal level or that the candidate clearly doesn't have the skills for the job, in which case politely break up on the spot. Otherwise, it could take too long before you find a worthy partner, since you are likely to go through more than a few candidates to find a good match.

2. If you don't have revenues (or investors) yet, then you really shouldn't pay salaries. Period. Otherwise, there are two schools of thought. One says that startups should pay smaller than average salaries to conserve cash, but pad the salary with hefty options (up to 1% of the company for each of the first 10 employees) - supposedly this attracts entrepreneurial-spirited workers who really believe in the venture's success. The other says that startups should pay higher than average salaries to attract the best people, because a "dream team" is the main advantage startups have against large companies. Personally I think the first approach makes more sense, but I can't prove it beyond reasonable doubt, so it's up to you to decide. In any case, you should find out the average market salary for you specific domain and job description. There are plenty of online resources that can help with that.

Peter Spinney Successful entrepreneur & technology leader

September 23rd, 2018

Lots of parallels in our entrepreneurial paths. Might be fun to compare notes.