Ask a VC -- half of the write downs they make are due to inability to gain sales.
I love it when the entrepreneur is the chief sales person. After all, this is the person who has convinced others of the value of the concept. Often that has included hiring people, scraping together resources the entrepreneur doesn’t really control, and finding those early adopter customers who willingly “wire together” a product that’s almost ready -- because they’ve been sold by the entrepreneur.
It’s a bit disconcerting to hear a very early company leader propose that the first hire should be a sales “guy” to “take care of” the sales stuff.
The mind of the customer is the entrepreneur’s greatest resource. Usually that does not mean that the customer should -- or can -- specify the design of the product. But it does mean that he or she knows the ultimate goal of the business and how the proposed product fits in. Only the person selling to the customer has access to that first hand knowledge.
Inevitably, a transition occurs to a sales VP or similar. But the best entrepreneurs never lose touch.
Jack Welch, not an entrepreneur but a canny business guy, used to love to sneak off a couple of days a year and ride with sales guys from GE Plastics. He never lost his gut feel for the customer