Displaying posts published in

November 2008

Bringing Sales Feedback into Product Development

I just read a great post by Jeff Stewart of the UrgentGroup on Sales as R&D in a startup.  The article talks about how in a start-up, your sales team is your R&D.

The wrap up to his post echos a lot of what I say to my teams:

Many engineers I talk to have the misguided “if we build it, they will come,” approach to sales.  To this I say: Bull.  In 1999, I had the chance pleasure of meeting most of the Google sales team in a hotel bar.  Let me tell you, they weren’t talking about algorithms.  While the PHDs at Google deserve a lot of credit for building a great product, we can’t forget that the innovations of the sales team developed for the company.  They are very responsible for getting Google to where it is today.

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Sales lessons from my 7 year old: Humility / Just do it

Since I started writing this blog, I’ve looked for sales lessons in everyday life. I blogged a few months ago on sales lessons in a chick flick.  This week, I was treated to a very nice sales lesson from my seven year old daughter.

The other nite, my wife called me and asked me how long it would be before I got home from work because that nite, Erin, my seven-year-old daughter had to go to the PTA board meeting in town and my wife wanted to know if I could watch the other two kids, while she took Erin there.  I wasn’t going to make it home in time, but determined that if we met each other at the school, we would arrive just as the meeting would start.  We could meet there, Erin could do what she needed to do, and then we could all grab a quick dinner.

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Business Development vs Sales

I’ve been having this discussion lately with a number of angel investors about the title “sales” and the title “business development.” 

In the traditional sense, business development people deal with creating channels, partnerships, and stategic opportunities for the company.  Sales are the people that go and get people to give you money for your product. 

Since “sales” can have, in some people’s minds, a negative connotation, there has been this trend to call sales people, “business development people” which I think is supposed to have the effect of making them seem less like people trying to get you to give them money.  Business Development people often have no revenue quota, and instead are managed by objectives.  So, by tagging someone a “Business Development” person, you, in theory, are making their contact with potential customers less threatening.

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The Enterprise Sale for Start-ups

When I was selling software in my first start-up (Dynamic Mobile Data – wireless dispatch and vehicle location software), the world of software was very different from when it was today.  Other than small consulting projects around my software, I was never selling anything for less than $200,000.  The idea was to have few clients each year at a high dollar amount.   I sold to Fortune 500 companies a large enterprise-wide solution.  This included desktop software, server software, database set-ups, and more.  Each of my software sales had an 18% annual maintenance which included product updates, phone support, and more.

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Minimizing Sales Staff and Re-evaluating Comp Plans

As the credit crisis holds, many start-ups are going to start looking to make sure that they hold onto cash as long as they can.

That may include the decision to eliminate and/or outsource a portion of your sales staff.  And, this can often be a very wise business decision.  Of course, the cartoon to the right takes it to the extreme, but as start-ups and other companies decide to eliminate sales staff, the challenge becomes on how do you continue (and accelerate) your trajectory in sales with less sales staff and potentially less resources (minimized travel budget, etc).

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