Archive for October, 2009

Practical Sales Outsourcing

18.10.2009 No comments

When you have a great idea, but the world will not come to you…

I was recently invited as a guest speaker and panelists for an entrepreneur development group.  My fellow panelist, Charles Leadbeater (a recognized proponent of innovation and Web2.0 thinking) started with a call for more collaboration and cited amazing successes and fantastic creativity.  While I agreed with his thesis, I could not help but recount the many initial business (tech initiatives) failures caused by an improper reliance on collaborators for their sales channel.  Charles was right to highlight a new paradigm of collaboration as a significant opportunity for small entrepreneurs, but for the sake of the technical entrepreneurs in the audience, I found myself taking a contrary position and highlighting the limitations of collaboration.

Author Charles Leadbeater

Engineers have a serious defect– they cannot resist solving a problem.  The reason I call this a defect is that it keeps getting in the way of sensible business.  For the most naive, they normally worry about things like manufacturing, on-line order taking systems, and future developments, but dismiss the challenges of path to market by either assuming customers will come on their own (once they recognize the brilliance) or they assume that they will outsource sales through resellers.  The truth is that many people have very successful businesses using resellers and OEM relationships, but this will not be possible at the same time as you are just entering the market. (See earlier, related blog post “Production vs Prototype Sales“).  I wish it were possible to simply outsource initial sales the same way you can outsource initial manufacturing– in truth, I am a “recovering engineer” (an addictive and life long disease) and would likely have stayed a happy engineer if it were not for this unfortunate truth.

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