Today I had the luck to attend one of the unique meetings Seedcamp organizes for it’s winning teams, and (in my case) alumni. Over breakfast Matt Blumberg, the CEO of ReturnPath shared his tips on successful team-building in a startup environment. My takeout was obviously how to build a successful sales/bizdev team. Here are some points I caught from Matt’s brilliant talk:
- Hire the best people (for the job) – in the early days of the startup business development is more about evangelising and closing rather than a classic/numbers sales game. You need people that go out in the field and are ready to spend a lot of time and energy with few results to keep the spirit up.
- Hire in advance – by the time you decide that you need to hire help you probably needed it for a couple months already. Avoid that by setting up end executing a hiring strategy/plan.
- Don’t convince people to a startup career, find those that are looking for it. Otherwise you risk getting people that are not ready to ‘get their hands dirty’ and will expect an organisation that will support them (PAs anyone?)
- Hire in pairs – this was very new to me, but so obvious when you think about it – sales people working in a pair get to learn from each other, compare notes and share motivation. Programmers knew it for quite some time.
- Create transparent and fun environment. Think about yourself as a head of a family or a host of a great party – treating your employees as your best guests.
- Be an enabler – share responsibility and decision power; remove roadblocks; beware of becoming a bottle neck
- Bring tech people to the sales cycle to avoid team separation and communication issues – this is probably one of the most important, and still seriously overlooked points in most startups I know.
Big thanks to Matt for his time and knowledge and Seedcamp’s Philipp Moehring for organising this.
ReturnPath is the market leader in email deliverability currently employing 200 people and profitable. Investors include Union Square Ventures, Mobius Venture Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures and Western Technology Investment.
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