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Sales Strategy

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.

Win, Lose, or Draw

I’ve gotten into two lengthy discussions recently about draw as a sales compensation component.  Specifically, since I work with start-ups, the questions were around whether or not you should offer up a draw or not as part of the compensation package.

I have some very strong opinions about draw, and I want to start by going over the basics.  Draw is compensation offered to a new salesperson coming on board.  There is a “draw period” which is the time over which the draw is paid.  (typically 3 to 6 months).  There are two types of draw:

End of the year run…Grabbing Unused Budgets

In many large companies, departments get “use-it-or-lose-it” budgets.  What this means is that they get dollars for projects for that year, and if they don’t use up all of that money by the end of the year, then they don’t get to spend it.  It does not roll over until the next year.  This is where salespeople looking to finish out their own year great can capitalize.  It requires you to be flexible in your pricing technique, but you can very often push through a sale that might otherwise take a very long time to close.

Startup Spark: Don’t forget you need customers

I read a short post on Startup Spark about making sure that entrepreneurs don’t forget that they need to find customers for their new ventures.

Ah – how true… and who makes that happen?  The sales team.

Sales for start-ups is not easy and its certainly not for everyone.  You are building your product and your market at the same time you are trying to build a customer base.  But, when you can convince those companies to give your start-up a chance, its one of the most rewarding feelings for a sales person.

Hmm…Why do you ask?

Salespeople love to talk.  Its a common theme at QuotaCrush.  I’ve recently done two posts on it: Never Vomit on your Customers, and Two Ears, One Mouth.   Expanding on this topic…salespeople need to make sure that whenever they answer questions in a sales pitch, that they need to understand why the question was asked.

The natural tendency when someone asks you a question is to give an immediate answer to that question.  However, unless you understand the motivation behind the question, the chance is that you will answer the question with information that is not relavant or with information that will not move the deal closer to the sale.  And, you will have lost a perfect opportunity to learn more about the customer.

Web 2.0 is dead… Long Live Revenue 2.0

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.

You get no points for getting to the 1 yard line

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.

“Doc… It’s Marty… You gotta get me back to 1985!”

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.

Why companies should smile when they pay commissions

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.

Tuck in your shirt

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.

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