VP of Sales for a Startup – You Better Have Technical Chops

I just read Andrew Chen‘s post Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing. It’s such a great post and I urge you to read it. The traditional role of a marketer historically, has been to help build awareness and customer acquisition. These days, Andrew notes, the role has expanded:

“The role of the VP of Marketing, long thought to be a non-technical role, is rapidly fading and in its place, a new breed of marketer/coder hybrids have emerged.”

As Superplatforms (10s of Millions of users) like Facebook, Zynga, Pinterest proliferate, marketers need to be able to integrate, test, and optimize them to fully leverage their network effects.

To succeed, a VP of Marketing has to know how to hack.

I have been thinking a lot about this idea and how it relates to business side of a startup. My role is VP of Sales. I was hired to build our revenue model and grow it. What I have found is that, to my delight, my role is much more than just traditional selling.

My conversations are no longer just with media folks or directors of online marketing. When evaluating partnerships, more times than not, I am speaking with CTO’s who want to leverage our API or understand our semantic engine and taxonomy capabilities. I had to acquire (and continue to acquire) what Andrew would call “technical chops.” Its was something foreign to me, but now sets me apart from traditional sales and business people.

(note – I have a long way to go when it comes to my technical smarts)

Moving forward, I think the most successful sales and business folks will have an understanding of networks and technology and how it affects their product/service, sale cycle, potential partnerships, and marketing goals. You will be at a distinct advantage if you can understand the emerging tech ecosystems and speak intelligently with the tech folks creating it.


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