Sales


Since 2009 we’ve been in an unequivocal bull market. Venture capitalists have raised increasing amounts of money from their investors (LPs) every year. An impressive number of new VCs have been created – most of them with new seed funds. We’ve had an explosion of alternate sources of financing from crowd-sourcing, angels, accelerators, incubators, corporates, corporate incubators.  And importantly we’ve had revenue. Consumers buying through smart phones, travelers using the new, shared economy and businesses replacing old software with modern cloud-based solutions.

It has been a good run.

But it won’t last forever. It could last 6 more months or 6 more years for all I know. But the economy grows in cycles and always has: Expansion & contraction. For what ever reason we’re wired to have amnesia during the run up and prescient memories of how we ‘knew it all along’ as soon as the slide begins. I do believe that we are in structural change where technology will increasingly play a bigger role in all facets of life so the long run up for tech is promising through all of these cycles. Once you understand both sides of the cycle you start to recognize signs of behavior during each phase.

I’d like to do a few posts on what life looks like on the way up and perhaps how to keep your head on straight and avoid drinking your own Kool Aid because as I often advise entrepreneurs on irrational exuberance, “In a strong wind even turkeys can fly.” It helps to have seen the way down twice before to know many of the signs. And as I always assert,

“Great companies are built in downturns.

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Most technology startups seem to be funded by product people or business people.  Specifically what is often not in the DNA of founders are sales skills. Nor do they exist in the investors of early-stage companies.

The result is a lack of knowledge of the process and of sales people themselves.

My first startup was no different.  I had never had any sales training so everything we did for the first couple of years was instinctual.  While we did fine learning on the fly, it turned out that a lot of what we did was wrong.

As we grew into several millions of dollars of sales per year it was no longer acceptable to “wing it.”

So I did want any rational person who wants to improve does – I hired a coach.  We focused together on improving our sales methodology, our training and our comp plans through a larger than life ex country manager from PTC named Kai Krickel.  He taught me much – most of it unconventional.  Most of it worked and his philosophies have proved enduring to me.

His business was called TEDIC – The Excuse Department is Closed. That mindset always stayed with me and even rung true at the time. Excuses.

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I work with a lot of startups. I start to notice when bad behavior creeps into the system as a whole. I have seen much of that behavior over the past 2 years get worse.

Nobody seems to want to make money any more. I remember just a decade ago in 2003 when we all laughed at how dumb people in the 90′s were talking about the race to “capture as many eyeballs as possible” before your competition. You would figure out how to monetize later.

I say ring the freaking cash register. I have said so for years.

Not everybody agrees and in some cases they’re right so you have to decide for yourself.

If you are a super young, well-connected, Stanford CS or EE, worked at Facebook early, have a bit o’ dosh and have VCs chasing you … you are exempt. Or anybody who remotely resembles you.

Why? Because at least while the VC spigot is open and flowing for high-potential individuals that fit a pattern that some VCs seem to favor they can access cheap capital that isn’t terribly dilutive and can use the to fund development and swing for the fences with limited focus on monetization.

Ok. That leaves 99.99% of you.

Ring the freaking cash register.

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This is part of a series that describes a sales methodology for technology companies or frankly many other types of companies, too.

We developed this at our first company and called it PUCCKA – the overall methodology is described here.

PainUnique Selling PropositionChampionCompelling Event.

This post talks about the “K” or Key Players involved in a buying decision.

The first key player I talked about in the previous post was the Champion, who is a person t

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