Why Tech Sales Reps Make Great Startup CEOs

Why Tech Sales Reps Make Great Startup CEOs

What do Calendly ($3B), Salesloft ($2.4B), Rigor (acquired by Splunk), OrderNerd (acquired by Popmenu), and Zinnia (future unicorn) all have in common?

  1. ATL, baby!
  2. Their CEOs were successful sales reps at tech companies before making the leap to founder.

Yes, there are great engineering-focused founders (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Charles Brian Quinn) but it’s no coincidence that great sales people build great companies.

Here’s 5 reasons software sales reps make amazing startup CEOs.

5 Reasons Software Sales People Make Great Startup CEOs

1. They can sell.

At the highest level, selling is getting someone to believe what you believe.

Which just happens to be the #1 job of a CEO.

CEOs sell to customers, investors, employees, and beyond.

Selling involves trust, relationship-building, vision-casting, positioning, and closing.

2. They can talk tech.

Can you build a tech company without being an engineer?


Does it help to know your way around software, products, and tech lingo?


The best software sales reps are tech-savvy.

They’re handling product questions from prospects, working with engineers on custom integrations or feature requests, and explaining the technical “why” to customers.

They know “enough to be dangerous” and are constantly pushing to learn more.

It’s a great foundation for building a tech startup.

3. They like to win.

Show me a sales person who doesn’t want to be 1st on the leaderboard…and I’ll show you a customer service rep. 😂😂😂

The best sales reps play to win. They work 100 hour weeks. They make miracles happen on the last day of the quarter. They are intolerable a tiny bit upset if they fall short.

This determination, focus, and competitive drive translates seamlessly to startups.

4. They’re innovative.

How can I get an edge on my competitors?

How can I find leads no one else is thinking about?

What is a new way to catch the attention of a prospect?

How can I work more efficiently?

How can I creatively solve this customer’s problem?

Welcome to the mind of a great sales rep.

Or is it the mind of a startup founder??

5. They’re courageous.

Sales reps will…

  • Make the ask
  • Push boundaries
  • Talk to strangers
  • Fight for what they believe in
  • Challenge antiquated thinking

Being a startup founder requires that you…make the ask, push boundaries, talk to strangers, fight for what you believe, and challenge antiquated thinking.

6. They think big.

Why go for a $1000 deal when you could go for a $100,000 deal? Why start a million dollar company when you could start a billion dollar one?

It’s a similar amount of work but the impact is bigger.

“Thinking bigger” is natural in sales. It’s a compilation of winning, innovation, and courage.

“Thinking bigger” is a tremendous skill and mindset for entrepreneurship as well.

Are you in tech sales thinking about starting something?

  1. DO IT!!! (Not that I’m biased…)
  2. Feel free to reach out and chat pros, cons, and how to get started!
  3. 2023 is a fresh start and time for new goals and challenges. Is this the year you start a company??

What’s next on The O’Daily?

BIG announcement coming next week plus alllll the healthy-eating-at-a-startup advice to ring in the new year!