There aren’t many doubts. It is always the Salesman and there are three reasons for the poor sale:
Salesman didn’t choose the right customer or the right decision maker in the company
This means that your product is maybe ideal fit for certain customers but the customer your salesman is talking to is not in this group. Also, if the customer says “we will think about it” it means that he already know from the beginning of the year where he will spend his budget and your product in not on his core needs list. If you get an answer “we don’t have a budget” this means that you are talking to the “tech guy” in the company and he is never the decision maker. Financial guy, the decision maker, makes the budget and if he decide that he needs your product he will find the budget (because he created it and other things that he planned to buy will suffer). Never try to sell your product to the tech guy (they understand completely your product, they will love it and they are polite) but they are not the decision makers (they think they are but they are not). You will just lost your time talking to them and avoid beeing sent to tech guy when you talk to financial guy (if you talk in tech terms and he does not understand you then you will be sent to the tech guy – means no sale).
Salesman and Customer did not understand each other
This is problem when salesman is not able to understand the urgent need that this customer has. Or the customer is not able to present his problem correctly (salesman should be able to overcome this situation). Maybe this customer’s urgent need is not covered by the product that salesman is selling, but it should not be a stopper to make a deal. Salesman will face later engineers in his company with obvious question: “How did you sell something that we don’t have?” but that is the life. It is important that the deal is closed, it will be already built somehow.
Overall value of the selling product is lower than the similar product from the competition
This is also the salesman error because he is trying to sell some uncompetitive product and he is persistent to do this indefinitely. It is time for him to change the company.
If you are a tech guy (like me) then never talk about your product technical specifications, because you are wasting the customer’s time. Try to understand the real urgent need that this customer has, don’t asked him questions where he can answer simple with “Yes” or “No”. You need to be clever to make him give you the complete statement of the urgent problem that he has and he must do this personally (not by throwing your words into his mouth). When you come to the sale’s meeting, forget the passion about your product and talk at least as possible. Make him talk. Listen carefully.
Even if you like technology the most of everything and like spending most of the time working on your product, you must learn how to sell – no will done this better then you and you can not outsource the sales. In a good company around 50% of all budget is spent on sales activities.
Who will win: Shitty product with great marketing or excellent product with shitty marketing? Always the product with a great marketing.
This is what I remembered from the lecture of Matt Mayfield – “What Engineers Need to Unlearn to Sell”?
Yes, he is going up, but from the different point of view he can go also down (if you look the whole picture bellow). The fact is that when looking only this part of the picture you have limited information and you make the decision like you do. Obvious information can also deceive us to see the broader picture.
Just returned from the very interesting lecture (by Dušan Omerčević from Zemanta and Andrej Zrimšek from NiceLabel) about Scrum and Kanban development frameworks here in Ljubljana, Slovenia and I am right now thinking about what I heard there and comparing with our approach, what we are doing in out development process.
What I like is this:
Developers protection from new feature requests while they are in one Sprint cycle. We have this problems all the time (adding new features and breaking the release date agreement).
What was agreed this exactly will be done – no rooms for changes during the one Sprint.
No multitasking, doing one task in agreed time period of time. Focus is about saying no to 1000 things.
Communication, Communication, Communication.
Doing retrospectives backwards and re-evaluating what was done at the end of each Sprint cycle.
If we set a rule that we will do only 5 bigger tasks in certain amount of time and if top manager come with new task he must choose which one of previous 5 tasks he will remove to make the place for this new task. Really cool, and make them think.
What I don’t like:
I felt during the lecture that lecturers talk really slow, like they don’t care at all about the time and I was worried about their productivity in real company environment.
At the end of the lecture, we have put our questions on the board and they chose 5 questions from 15 and set 45 minutes frameset to go through these 5 questions.
Even it is very useful framework it also looks to me little bit like bureaucracy if not used in a right way (in a way that real programming hours will decrease in organization and also the lines of produced code).
I am not sure how this is suitable for small teams (for example, 3 people).
It is in the humane nature to try to earn highest amount of money for smallest amount of work so I am afraid that people will be happy to have 3-days weekend (if Monday is dedicated for all day meeting and discussion).
I was involved in one Cloud oriented startup that earns money by selling monthly and yearly subscriptions. Whole team with CEO included were devoted to create technically superior product for their current and new customers but none of them liked to work on promoting benefits of their product, so marketing tasks were not on the priority list. They are all aware that this is the bad thing but none of them was willing to do marketing tasks, so, apparently they needed to hire one good marketeer.
Product grew organically but they were not been able to produce “hockey stick” growth and they thought that by adding new features it will be enough to make their product more interesting to the new customers.
The reality was the opposite. No matter what they have added it didn’t help them quickly because nobody knew nothing about their product/service (it was not promoted aggressively). It is not bad in general, but it could be so much better.
This happens when company management have only technical background and not marketing background and when everyone enjoy making product technically better. So, they had made a plan: they will finish first one big update and then they will dedicate most off their efforts to the marketing tasks and they hope that this will make the impact on the market.
Product is good, their customers are satisfied but they need to find more customers to make whole thing sustainable business.
These are the tips what you must expect from your marketing manager and his team:
Make marketing team to focus on producing the content (as fast as possible) that will promote the value of your product online – marketing manager and his team need to write blogs, PR articles, case studies, be active on social media channels (Twitter, Facebook), to give useful comment on relevant forums like Quora and on important vertical markets. Measure the impact of all these actions. If marketing department is not producing content fast enough, or they don’t add value to product’s growth you will need to replace them with more efficient team.
Marketing should focus on one vertical market at the time and to create strategy to offer them one package that can be sold easily and that does not require much work of production team (this offer use the features that product already has but nobody know about them except the production team). Attack must be direct and coordinated and management need to measure the success (what we have sent and what we have achieved).
Send offers directly to larger customers that can buy large amount of subscriptions (bigger volume), otherwise marketing costs will grow more then you will earn. Contacting small customers by your marketing team is not profitable so they should be focused on big customers or in promotion of your value for customers through different channels.
Use some other services that push good deals like f6s – you can get a lot of customers from these channels.
Be relevant – comment only on vertical markets that are yours.
Marketing should at the end focus on product improvements and data driven marketing (to tell better initial value for the customer and to focus on better funnelling and gathering marketing stats) but this task need to be done only if they have success in primary tasks.
Basically, there is no rule how we learn but learning process is not linear. The most important thing is our will to learn.
In my case, it is more chaotic process when something grabs your attention and then you disperse in different directions from the starting idea and end up with something completely new that you even didn’t think about. Previous experience, feelings, events from the past make our perceptions better..
If you are able to gather and process all these new things in some useful story then your mind is enriched.
You also come to some interesting things during the learning process that have no connections with the topic you were researching. For example, while I was looking about learning process I came to this:
Answer: Just copy this line into the browser Address field: data:text/html, <html contenteditable>
Or maybe, something completely different…
You are working daily on your super interesting online product/service that will sell like a bread but you just need to launch the service on which you were working last two years… What about to start from completely different direction that can save you a lot of time? Find out what people will pay for and then build product that will sell from the first day. If you are able to sell to 500 hundred people something that is 30€ worth you will make the yearly income of 180,000€.
At the end few interesting quotes about the learning process…
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. (Henry Ford)
You cannot open a book without learning something. (Confucius)
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. (Bill Gates)
I am still learning. (Michelangelo)
You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking. (Lyndon B. Johnson)
Learning to make films is very easy. Learning what to make films about is very hard. (George Lucas)
There’s no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times. (Jonathan Ive)
Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that. (Indra Nooyi)
The trick in life is learning how to deal with it. (Helen Mirren)
He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. (Confucius)
Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best. (John C. Maxwell)