As the U.S. settles into what some predict is Depression 2.0, we are at the end of Web 2.0. Not Web 2.0 the technology – that’s still just at its beginning – but the term Web 2.0 because I think it will be forever tied to the idea of a second wave of companies with no way of making money. Web 2.0 means much more than “free web sites” as many people out of the industry believe. It encompasses user generated content, using the web as a platform, collaborative software, web sites communicating with each other (mashups and more), etc. I hope that as we start to take the web to the next phase, we forget catchy names… lets just worry about the one thing that businesses have worried about since the beginning of commerce…revenue.
In football, it goes without saying that unless the ball makes it to the endzone, in your hands, then you don’t get any points. In sales, we have to remember that we also cannot celebrate until the sale is done.
It takes a lot of effort to prospect, pitch, and ultimately get someone to agree to buy your software. It often takes a significant amount of more time to get through the contract negotiations. But – none of this is a sale. A sale is only a sale once the money is in the bank.
1985 was a great year for me.
- I started high school
- I met my wife (although we didn’t start dating until 11 years later)
- I was tapped by the Superintendent of Schools to design and build a computer system to run the schools grades, scheduling, rank, attendance, etc.
- I started my first real entrepreneurial endeavor of some random computer consulting, training, and repair for some side dollars
- Became one of the lead drummers in the school drum-core.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about compensation plans as I start to get ready for 2009.
As I’ve been planning all of this, I’ve been watching the chaos unfold on Wall Street and I’ve seen these articles blaming much of it on highly paid people in Wall Street firms. Its always been my opinion that if a compensation package is designed correctly, then if the salespeople or executives are making a lot of money – well then the company must be doing well. Simply saying that “compensation is top heavy” doesn’t always tell the whole story. It is true that a poorly designed compensation plan can pay out too much money relative to effort, but I’ve been wondering if this was the case for many of the firms that have gone bust lately.
At the risk of sounding old again, I’m going to rant on another “new way of doing business” topic that has been irking me, and one which I think has implications for salespeople.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs starting companies because I work with all of the investors that fund them: VC’s and Angel Investors.
What boggles my mind, is that I see decent entrepreneurs who get their big chance to pitch in front of the best VC’s, or give a presentation in front of thousands of people. Its their chance to make the best impression they can as to why someone should believe in them and why someone might give them millions of dollars.
Someone asked me recently what I thought was the biggest impediment to sales.
I thought for quite some time on this. Would I say, bad presentation? Would I say selling to the wrong people? What about not asking for the sale – I’ve blogged on that..? Or even something out of the sales persons control like price or packaging or branding…
After much thought, I came down to one common theme on what I think kills a sale and also kills a salesperson:
At the urging of some of my staff, I’ve recently signed up for Twitter and started following people on it – and attempted to use it every now and then. I’ve also gotten more and more into commenting on blogs and also on places like LinkedIn and other sites.
Perhaps I’m just too old and out of the loop on total transparancy, but I think there is a very distinct line between being transparent and using discretion in your comments.
As the political landscape heats up here in the U.S., I am reminded about a classic sales mistake: bashing the competition.
As I’m watching the election campaign heat up, I amazed at how many people feel the need to bash the competition in order to build themselves up. Seriously, you can decide that a certain candidate is not the right choice – but I challenge anyone to find a candidate for president that wasn’t honestly thinking that they were not doing the right thing for the country – even if their method you oppose. You may decide John McCain is the wrong choice, but regardless, he is a treasure to this country for his service and his drive in making this a better place. Likewise, you can hate Obama’s need to raise taxes, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t trying to better our country in his own way. I’m proud to call both men my countrymen – even if I do have an opinion as to who would do a better job.