The best part of my job is talking to the CEOs of tech startups. I find it especially fascinating to learn about new software being developed for the AdTech, MarTech and HRTech industries. I like to hear the inspiring stories of product development, funding efforts and growth plans.

The Founders and CEOs I meet are very smart people. Yet many are making a fundamental growth mistake by trying to single-handedly run the entirety of their company’s sales process.

Unfortunately, one person cannot outline strategy, establish goals, fill the pipeline, push agreements, manage clients and create the tools needed for sales training, client presentations, and marketing collateral. Like a fine Swiss watch, the ideal sales team is made up of talented people—individual components–who work together and interact with each other to create an organization that operates like a precision timepiece.

Each person in the sales process has his/her role. There are hunters, farmers, operational support people, and channel teams to broaden the market share. To use another metaphor, the CEO needs to be the conductor of an orchestra of players who come together in a fine symphony. The sales people are the musicians. The managers make sure the musicians are in tune. (OK, I’m done with the metaphors.)

Are you trying to do everything yourself? Are you having trouble separating yourself from the sales process to concentrate on leading your organization?

It may be time to start building out the sales department. And as you do, don’t be too quick to dismiss how a dedicated, focused Recruiting Agency can help.

Relationships = More Options

Internally, you basically have access to two lists of contacts when it comes to bringing in new sales talent: Your employees list of contacts and the company’s CRM of contacts which often contain more business associates and clients than sales candidates. These lists are very useful for marketing and sales but won’t be much help for recruitment. An agency, however, has access to a large number of companies, job seekers, and hidden little online locations where candidates congregate. An agency may even have connections with the best talent working for competitors who are seriously looking for something new. This means that a recruiter can screen and interview from a much larger pool of great sales candidates. Without help, a company may be resigned to post open positions in the hope that the right talent responds.

More established relationships mean many more options saving a lot of time.

Time = Cost

If you think about it, whether the CEO or another employee is doing the search, the company is paying out a salary even while the search continues. How long will your open sales slots remain open before you find the right candidate to hire? Compiling the initial list of candidates, talking to each one, and scheduling onsite interviews is a time-consuming endeavor. And as they say: time is money.

Work with a recruiting agency and you’ll have a team of recruiters hustling to fill the sales positions. And they typically don’t get paid until the candidate is vetted and hired.

Focused Effort = Strong Culture

Culture at a tech firm is important because it sets the company atmosphere and guides everything from how employees interact with new hires to how clients are treated. Some say that a recruiting agency doesn’t have a company’s culture at heart when bringing in candidates. Not true. An agency can actually assist with developing a strong culture by focusing on the strengths and weaknesses and identifying sales candidates that fill in the gaps. CEOs are often tempted to hire people who are identical in background and experiences. agency hires tend to round out the corporate culture by identifying diverse experience in a candidate while not sacrificing a shared vision for growth.


If you decide to work with a recruiting agency, make sure you do your homework. Ask yourself some questions: Will an agency take the time needed to learn your brand, priorities, goals and culture? Do they offer a range of tailored HR solutions you can take advantage of? Do you need to push all or just a part of the recruiting effort offsite? Where specifically do you need assistance—finding the next VP-level sales executive or a team of SDRs? What is the ROI of freeing up CEO time?

Whatever you decide, we can agree that the CEO had better things to do than run a sales department.

Carbon Three is a consulting/recruiting firm focused on building sales teams for tech startups and early growth tech companies. Dan Wolan is the VP of Sales for C3 and Managing Partner for 45th Latitude. He can be contacted at