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Referenceability & Introducability

06.08.2015 No comments

Take the express lane to getting customers for large, complex products

introEvery salesman is desperate to avoid the dreaded cold call.  People with great networking skills have always been able to get introductions to prospective customers.  Social networks like Linkedin have revolutionized this type networking by making everyone able to find a 2nd degree connection within almost any potential customer.  The technique is simple– it ends with your Connector sending an email to the Target (and putting you on the cc) introducing you as a good guy to know.  In my terminology, your Connector has high “Introduceablity”.  Often such a Connector can introduce you to several others over time if you don’t abuse the privilege.

Introducability gets you the Target’s attention and results in a high probability of a meeting taking place.  Unfortunately it does little to build trust or get you any closer to closing a deal with the prospect.  For this, you need another type of Connector– one with “Referenceability”.
Connectors with Referencability Read more…

3+ Great Books for Sales and Marketing

15.02.2015 No comments

Three books I find useful in launching into new markets  (updated since first posted in 2009)

3 Great Books

3 Great Books

I am not a big reader of sales, marketing and business books.  However, whenever I am working with someone who is interested in further developing their ability to sell and market, I find myself recommending the same three books.

The first is Rob Jolles book, Customer Centered Selling.  It is unlikely that you have heard of this book as Rob is a relatively minor author in the field of spin/consultitive/complex selling, but I find his presentation is by far the best.  He is a veteran salesman and sales trainer from Xerox.  For me, there were two world class Silicon Valley companies in the Eighties: the great engineers came from HP and the great salesmen came from Xerox.  While both have lost their shine in recent years, they were in their time factories for their respective talents.  Rob concisely communicates sales as a science and a process for large complex consultative sales.  Rob also does a great job of explaining why salesmen (real salesmen, not order takers) are a good thing for society.

Read more…

Getting Salesman to Write Reports

26.01.2015 No comments

Will the real salesperson please stand up….Forecast

I have managed different types of professionals, but I can attest that no group is harder to influence than Salesperson.  A typical interraction might be:

  1. On Monday, “Joe, I need your forecast by Thursday End of Business”.  His response “Ok, I’ll do what I can” (Result: No report)
  2. On Friday, “Joe, you promised that forecast yesterday”.  His response “sorry Matt, I’ll get it by the end of today”  (Result: No report)
  3. On the next Monday 9am, “Joe, I have a board meeting at 2pm, I need that forecast by noon”.  His response “sorry Matt, I’ll get it right away” (Result: partial report by 12:45)

In fact, this chain of events is so predictable that I started to use this as an indication of future sales success.  Let’s look at each step in detail and I will try to explain this from the Salesperson’s perspective/nature and explain my insight.

Read more…

D-talk: What Engineers Must Unlearn to Sell

02.07.2014 No comments

With all the technology people who have ambitions of joining the startup world, I thought I might talk about why technical people struggle so hard at learning the critical sales roles. The interest in this D-Labs sponsored talk was far more than I expected.

Outsourcing Startup Sales

19.04.2014 No comments

Don’t do itbaby

Some years ago, I wrote about the challenges of finding others to do your sales for you (see https://www.telekta.com/blog/2009/10/practical-sales-outsourcing)This past year, I have found myself more involved with startups and identified an additional insight that all experienced startup professionals agree on, but most technology-based new startup founders miss.

Startups might be able to outsource engineering and operations (not without difficulty), but they should not even think of outsourcing initial sales for at least three reason:  Read more…

What is your Asset?

17.03.2014 No comments

A better way to value technology license product company value

In the famous book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki redefined the accounting term “asset” to mean something you own that generates money. Using his definition, the house you live in may be an asset for accountants, but an expense according to him (and now me). I found this redefinition very useful in my personal life and then soon found myself trying to redefine asset as I looked at evaluating company value for purposes of company merger or payout.

Using a Kawasaki-esque, practical approach, we see that the the Intellectual Property (IP or source code) is only valuable if and when people buy licenses. Moreover, existing license sales are only valuable if the licenses can be sold at a profit and the number of customers is only valuable if they are receptive to buy more licenses or support.  Given this, how can we measure the value of the asset in a meaningful way?

I have never been impressed with any company evaluation equation in the technology sector nor have I found accounting standards good arbiters of success.  However, in the case of mature mode, enterprise class software, I believe there is a simple measurement of one single value that defines the value of the asset in the same intuitive and useful way as Kawasaki.  That single measurement:  Total value of list license price under an active maintenance contract (LLPUAC) is directly proportional to company value and that two different companies (in the same sector) could be directly compared by looking at the ratios of their LLPUAC values to determine the ratio of their relative company value.  I believe that this one single measurement encompass nearly everything likely to be important about a company (or product) value in this category.  This means that lines of code, annual revenue, human capital, brand equity, cost of sales, and other common measures are irrelevant once you have LLPUAC.  My reasoning: Read more…

Discovery Phase Interviews

05.02.2014 No comments

How-to Guide (suitable when your offering is big, complex, and expensive)

AskI love doing discovery phase interviews and have always been particularly good at them.  They reward those that think quick on their feet and have a broad education and business knowledge.  For me it is improvisational theater meets MBA case study review– great fun.  In a recent startup incubator program, I made an attempt to describe the process I use so that others could try on their own….

Step one of any product launch, business expansion initiative, or startup is best described by Steve Blank as “Discovery”.: “validating whether they are solving a meaningful problem and whether anybody would hypothetically be interested in their solution”  Technical people, especially, struggle with this phase (partially because they think they already know the answer and partially because they are often poor collaborative listeners) Read more…

Client Message And Your Message Collision

18.10.2011 No comments

When selling services to other companies, you need to re-consider your key website messages.

Recently I came across a »corner case« of web site design.  Two clients were providing services to other businesses (B2B), but in entirely different industries.  Both struggled to create websites and key clients gave negative indications.  The problem and the solution for both was the same….

Let’s imagine a simple outsourcing relationship to better understand the problem.  Outsourcing is likely to be promoted based on a critical knowledge, price, location, language, or other advantage that the supplier (“SmallCorp”) has over their client’s (“BigCorp”) internal resources.  However, BigCorp is selling to their customer’s with a message that they are uniquely qualified to solve a specific problem.  The SmallCorp’s message, if ever exposed, is completely incompatible with their cleint (BigCorp’s) message.  In an age where nearly anyone is potentially exposed to end customer-facing communications, it is high risk that an outsourced person could expose his name to an end client.  Once exposed, social networks (linkedin, facebook,etc) quickly expose SmallCorp – including  which company this person works for and what “priorities” his company has.  The result—client message collision.

The solution, is to… Read more…

Managing Salesmen

11.01.2011 Comments off

With salesmen, you pay for results through commission.  What is there to manage?

I made the transition to management while an engineer.  At that same time, my main outside activity, sailboat racing, also made a transition from racing crew with a small role to starting my boat and taking on captain responsibilities.  With both, I made lots of mistakes.  Later, I started to educate myself in less damaging ways through reading and classes.  One surprise, was that the problems I was facing on the job, were nearly the same that I was facing with my unpaid racing crew, and even more remarkable was that the management books would often describe the techniques that I discovered through painful trial and error.  Engineers and volunteer sailors are difficult groups of people to manage effectively, but far easier, in my experience, than managing salesmen.

We pay salesmen almost exclusively based on results (not effort), yet they do not control markets, don’t make the products they sell, and have few control points within the customer.   Read more…

Scaling down multi-company corproate structures

21.11.2010 No comments

Scaling Down Multi-Company Corporate Structures

I have noticed a relatively new trend within smaller companies in that they seem to be more willing to experiment with ever more complex ownership and legal structures.  I imagine that this is partly a fashion thing associated with the recent “Decade of the Banker”.  Another influence is the European tax optimization tradition that encourages more complex legal and cross boarder structures, and finally Silicon Valley stock options and shared ownership have been a model for how to motivate the latest generation technical talent.  The consequences of such complexity are often not felt until many years later.

Read more…