I’m taking a quick side road from my marketing art & science articles of the last couple of weeks. I’ll get back to that series shortly, but this week I have to speak to hiring SaaS talent for the stage of your company. Why? Because I’m in the midst of two scenarios with Beacon9 clients that illustrate how critical this is and how badly things can go when company stage isn’t considered in hiring.
Between the Lines Talent Qualification
Hiring SaaS talent for stage gets neglected too often because it’s relatively intangible. There are people who are makers or creators, and there are those who are users of things created by others. This distinction is critical to hiring for fit and the job to be done at the evolutionary stage of your company. It’s between the lines because it’s often about what someone hasn’t done or shown. Since we often evaluate candidates on what they have done, it’s sometimes hard to step back and look for those gaps that do or don’t align with the work we need to be done.
Makers Create Things from Nothing
Makers love the challenge of the blank slate and the opportunity to define and design the machine. If this is in marketing, they want to hypothesize and test go-to-market strategies; choose, implement, and integrate martech; define scoring, and rapidly learn from a data-driven funnel. They’re anything but overwhelmed by the number of variables. They actually love distilling those down via iterative loops. They want to create the machine.
Users Scale the Machine
Users are often people who need to focus on a more narrow set of more defined objectives. When they can do that, they’re also phenomenally successful. They are scalers, who can focus on a mission, execute against it, and amplify momentum. They’re incredibly valuable once there is a pattern to follow.
Matching SaaS Talent to SaaS Stage
Startups need makers and growth stage companies
Over the last few weeks, I’ve witnessed users in maker roles and the damage it can inflict on startup momentum. And by the same token, as I help find SaaS talent for some startup opportunities, I see recruiters send people with
But it’s easy to be lulled into mismatching SaaS talent to your stage. Talent is scarce and people can look great on paper. How do you veto the Ivy grad who’s already had the title you’re hiring for with a track-record of success? You do if the work you need done is defining and designing, and everything in the Ivy resumé is using established systems and processes.
Users just don’t magically become makers. They’re not the same talents.
Startups Need Makers
The stakes at a startup are high. Capital is scarce, growth expectations are a hockey stick, and the calendar is unrelenting. There is precious little room for error.
One of the biggest mistakes a startup can make with early, key hires is to give users maker responsibilities.
That doesn’t mean that users can’t make. But it’s highly unlikely that what gets made by a user will be as innovative and high performing as the solution a maker would define. In my experience, a startup of users is handicapping its upside.
Makers can have those edge conversations about innovation and articulate how they are going to evaluate those opportunities. They can organize a wide array of variables into a logical matrix of tasks to be done and hypotheses to be tested. And they can move development of systems forward from a blank slate by stack ranking priorities and methodically executing against that list. In your search for SaaS talent — at the startup stage — hold out for those people who will add to your innovation rather than stifle it. Look for those characteristics between the lines and change stages faster.