Sales! A word despised by some, loved by others… Some claim it’s art, others say it’s a science. So, what is it? And how can you master it? After several years working in the field with a few of the best sales guys on the planet, I think I have my answer!
It can be an art, a natural talent that gives you something that others need to work hard to achieve. But, don’t despair, that is not the end of the story. Hard work and technique is what will make you a star and, what makes a solid sales representative. Talent can only give you a head start. Science and hard work will get you to the finish line above target.
Key things for you to remember: – Understand and challenge your customer. They might not appreciate it in the beginning but they’ll respect you in the long term. People BUY from YOU and only if they trust you. – Know your stuff! There is no way around it. You might have the best product out there but you need to explain why AND adapt your speech to different audiences – Be friendly and patient, Listen! Only by listening you’ll make your pitch effective and understand what your customer REALLY needs. – Finally, identify the decision maker! There is nothing worse than doing a great pitch and invest your time on the wrong person!
Sales: A few lines to explain the basics… A lifetime of hard work to master it 🙂
Fortunately, I have the pleasure of interacting with bright individuals and very exciting startups.
One of the areas that I often see as challenging is making sure that people understand better the surrounding environment before rushing into decisions. Sometimes what might look like a straight left or right decision (checkers) is actually more complex than that.
Seeing the big picture! Your stakeholders, their motivation, your personal fit, the company mission, among many other variables are crucial. Basic example: When you get surprised by someone’s attitude you should consider the reason behind it (like moving a Chess piece) instead of reacting right away. Remember that the vast majority of conflicts start as misunderstandings! In business, you need to be ready to adapt!
Speed (first move) is important. However, it is not decisive. Decisions with the right goal in mind is what will help you succeed!
Keep coming back to your goal whenever you are in doubt on what to do. Work hard and remember, Your motivation should not be affected by the difficulties!
Lately I have met a few startups (in different stages of development) and their approach to the question: “Do you see scaling your business/operations/influence/team/users as problem that you need to tackle or as an opportunity?” and the way people answer to this question will be key to their success/failure
I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of an environment that grew and is growing a lot. That gave me the opportunity to experience and humbly contribute to one of the most successful growing companies in history.
My personal take on the thematic of this post is that the approach to the challenge of scale is key to its success.
First: Do you believe in WHY you are going into this adventure? If you don’t, hardly you will find someone who will!
Second: Do you understand what your goal? Without a clear goal you’ll get nowhere. Be realistic but do not be afraid to try something new.
Third: Do you have the right tools to get there? Do you know what tools you need? Actually… That is OK if you don’t! Don’t be afraid of not having all the answers. If you have 1 and 2 well defined then you have a great place to start. Leverage on your experience, don’t be afraid of consulting others (leverage your network!). Let people know who you are and what you are doing.
Fourth: Be tenacious and pay attention to detail. Face roadblocks as challenges, stay focused on your goal and be flexible to adapt in case your goal became unrealistic after your in depth discovery.
If you are at that stage, think seriously about funding. If you are inexperience avoid that thinking that “someone will come and take my business away“. Obviously, evaluate your options but realise that there are not that many people in the world that can do this without the help of others.
End of May. Mary Meeker (and Liang Wu) recently shared their latest report on Internet trends. An invaluable document with lots of data on where the Internet is going.
I believe that some of these trends are not only shaping the Internet but they are fundamentally redefining IT. CIOs & CTOs can’t afford to keep themselves detached from the business any longer. “Keeping the lights on” and ensuring that their data is secure is no longer enough. If they don’t adapt they can be contributors to the erosion of very solid businesses. IT is now in a position to provide business solutions and answers to decision makers.
As the Borg say “Resistance is futile” (for Star Trek fans). Social, Mobile, Big Data & Cloud are not just trends that we are starting to see. They are key pillars for the future of IT. Today, we see companies that are evolving in this way are seeing solid results. The world is changing fast (see great comparisons on the report above) and missing on this journey can fundamentally cripple companies in their ability to adapt.
I will develop further my views on these pillars in future posts (I just can’t promise when… ;))
One more thing….
Beware of long term roadmaps (3+years) for anything that is related to IT. Understand the vision and see how adaptive it can be.
I had/have the privilege to contribute the amazing growth Google had in the last ~7 years and, in particular, the growth of Google Enterprise. On top of my regular work I am a mentor @Campus London and this has been an enriching experience. After meeting many startups there are simple things that they need to consider before they successfully take off.
The secret for their success is not intrinsically related to quality if their idea(s):
People are usually very protected of their ideas (and of course that’s ok, it’s their “baby”) but they tend to forget that in many cases a similar idea is already there but it never took off. Its all about execution. Great ideas are wasted every day at lunch time. Learning where others failed and understanding the environment where you fit is step 1!
Commitment is important but by itself it is also not enough.
Yes, be committed and dedicate yourself as much time as possible to your startup. Depending on witch stage you are you will also need to commit yourself financially (otherwise how can you expect others to do so?). Said that, you will need perseverance and to be mentally strong (very strong). Be ready to listen many times the word “NO” until you hear a “YES”. People that you talk to might disagree with your business plan. If they are not a interested party, listen carefully as they might be giving you another angle that you should not disregard.