As one of my investors once told me, there are two types of people in startups: hunters and skinners. I usually put it another way: there are two jobs in a startup, build the product and sell it. That’s it. Everything else is overhead, or if a must-have, like legal services, is outsourced.
Know yourself, and know your team. Nothing worse than having someone playing out of position. Personally, I’m not a hunter. My only sales experience has been selling equity. I’m a skinner, back at the office, building products and the organization.
As another VC told me, the highest paid person in a startup should be your VP of Sales. Because if that person is hitting or exceeding their quota and pulling down big incentive bonuses then the value of your company is going to rise as is its chances of success. As a founder you should be focused on building lasting value, not on what your salary is, or where you rank on the salary scale.
Of course, these days with the intense battle for engineering talent and the focus on ecommerce the skinners are catching up or surpassing the hunters in compensation.
Just like a football team needs both an offense and defense, every startup needs sales and product development. But as they say about football, defense wins championships and in startups sales (and the business model) may well do the same.