Is it true that a salesperson makes the worst CEO?

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JASON LEMKIN

No. Salespeople make great CEOs, too. There’s no firm rule here.

Marc Benioff, though a programmer in his youth, ran a big chunk of sales at Oracle before founding Salesforce.

What they do make is expensive CEOs, usually, at least in the early days.

Salesperson CEOs need a lot more resources, and tend to want a lot more resources, than Engineer CEOs do in the early days. They can’t code. And they are used to having teams under them do a lot of the work — so they want bigger teams (i.e., more burn) earlier. And they often are a bit more seasoned, so they have higher personal burn rates, too.

I don’t have the numbers to back it up, but Salesperson CEOs seem to have a burn rate about 1.5–2x higher than Hacker/Engineer CEOs in the early days.

If you can grow 1.5x-2x faster though, it’s likely worth it.

View original question on quora

Published on April 6, 2017
  • Miles Varghese

    Nice & Straight to the point, Jason. I’m an enterprise account exec who has been fortunate enough to have a few notches on my belt and one of the things I actively sought out as I left my last role was either: 1. a sales CEO or 2. an engineer with EQ. Either that executive can lead sales efforts outright as a Sales CEO or I could be what I like to call the “front end” of sales efforts to the “back end” of sales in an engineering CEO. The latter may be the strongest when you can combine a tenured sales leader with someone who thinks in numbers, processes, and puzzles naturally.

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