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The Early-Stage GTM Leader You Want To Work For

Are you a GTM professional looking to land with an early-stage (1-20M ARR) startup? If so, there are many factors to consider. Is the product something you can stand behind? Will their market trajectory ascend? If they're not yet profitable, how robust is their funding and how long is their runway? Does the role, comp, and potential for career advancement align with your aspirations? There are many points to consider, but an important consideration you should not overlook is their current GTM leadership. So what should you be tuning into?

On the sales front, fledgling companies often hire fearless leaders who can double as player-coaches and may call them Head of Sales. Whether it is a Head of Sales or VP of Sales, there are important strategic decisions to be made, but their true superpowers should lie in tactical execution. Look for leaders brimming with confidence, armed with sharp instincts, and adept at inspiring and mentoring compact teams. They'll be the architects of the sales process, the builders of sales goals and KPIs, and the selectors of the initial sales stack tools. They'll craft the inaugural comp plans, interact with customers to comprehend their needs and pain points, and likely seal the most important deals. They'll undoubtedly work hand-in-hand with reps on training, deal management, and forecasting.

Leverage one of your core sales traits, Discovery, to not only understand the product and market but also to gauge the leaders. Can they guide you and elevate your career? Do they communicate in a manner that resonates with you? LinkedIn profiles can offer a wealth of information about the leader you're contemplating working with. Extra credit goes to leaders who have successfully scaled from 1M-20M and have a proven, repeatable system. Don't shy away from doing some detective work on them, as they'll undoubtedly be doing the same on you as you approach the offer stage. Remember, these leaders will likely enjoy discussing their experiences, and their responses to your queries about early-stage responsibilities and management style will provide valuable insights into whether you want to join their team and the culture they're cultivating.

It's fair to say that a background in growth marketing is a common trait among early-stage B2B Heads of Marketing. They might also possess additional expertise in product marketing or content marketing. Their role will involve understanding the target users and populating the prospect funnel. They should be adept at utilizing and testing various channels that drive customer interest, be it social media, SEO, PPC, email, webinars, referral programs, etc. In this digital age, they must be relentlessly data-driven, but the cream of the crop are also extraordinarily creative. They can weave compelling narratives that educate and engage potential clients. Their collaboration and communication skills should be top-notch as they'll be liaising with sales, design, and product teams, as well as negotiating budgets with finance. Look for someone whose persuasive point of view has you nodding in agreement. Are your skill sets complimentary? What can this person teach you? Once again, back-channel references and a review of their previous company's materials can be enlightening.

So, GTM professionals, do you want to build something new and revolutionary at an early-stage startup? Use your existing skills to uncover not only the right company but also the right leader that will help grow your career. Please share any insights you might have in the comments below. Thanks!

By Matt Herman

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