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I’m A Tech Person With A Product. How Do You Find A Business Developer, And What Should I Look For In This Person?

This question originally appeared on CoFoundersLab: As a tech person with a product, how do I find a business developer? 

Answer from Dwayne Johnson, Co-founder, ScaleUp Partners and former Deputy Director of Innovate Oregon

 

The answer to this question assumes that your value proposition/compensation makes sense for the type of person you're trying to hire. Don't expect $200,000 + commission-type salespeople to come beating your door down to make 10 percent commission on $1,000 products in a saturated market with a 10-month sales cycle.

Here’s what you should be looking for in a salesperson or a sales and business development hybrid role.

 

Salesperson

Someone who finds and closes clients. A hunter/killer who can effectively manage their time, contacts and pipeline. These folks are plentiful, and if the returns are good, then they don't have to be in love with your company or product in order to join. They're coin-operated. Don't expect them to do much else.  

This assumes that you, or someone else, understands and can articulate to them the market opportunity and the general type of client you're looking for, as well as why that customer would buy. You also have to tell your new salespeople how you’d like to reach your customers. They need, at the very least, a vague sense of this. You should also give them an idea of how you want to cobble together a demand-generating strategy, if need be.

You’ll also need to provide your new salesperson with the appropriate tools and a baseline understanding of your sales process. This will help you manage them effectively. For instance, if they’re not having conversations with a pre-determined number of people per week, then they need to perform or leave your company.

 

Sales/BD-Lite

This is a person with a sales background and a slice of marketing experience; it’s probably someone who has owned or worked for a small start-up before. The skills will usually be weighted toward either sales or marketing, but, regardless, this person needs to understand the basics of both fields and be able to apply those principles to what you're selling. Additionally, this person will need to care about your product or service so that they can effectively develop basic materials, such as a website or a short list of potential customers.

This person should care about what you're selling and want to have a hand in how you present and sell it. While this person doesn't have to be your partner in the company, they need to be valued and compensated more than a regular salesperson would be. They have a larger, more strategic role at your company, and are integral to your growth.

 

A word to the wise: Vet your sales and business development candidates thoroughly before you engage their services. The sales and biz dev landscapes are full of people who think they know more than they do; some are flat out shysters. Always ask for references, and don't be shy about putting them on a three-month contract with firm deliverables before making a permanent decision.

 

 

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