Building a Business Requires Building Trust

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Sales, skmurphy

“Don’t take business advice from people with bad personal lives.”
Frank Chimero “Some Lessons I Learned in 2013

One of the hallmarks for success in a business-to-business market is the ability to form personal relationships as well as professional business relationships. I am always dismayed when I read advice that advocates bait and switch or other forms of con games that erode trust and make it difficult for any startup to build relationships.

Anyone who always puts themselves first ends up with bad personal life. Startups that are only clear on their own needs rarely outrun the same fate. It’s the difference between a focus on funding or an “exit” and a focus on building a business.

Working with bootstrappers sometimes puts us on teams that are in desperate circumstances. Where they are able to translate time pressure and resource starvation into a bias for action from a change in perspective they often succeed–or at least move beyond the current crisis: success, like the horizon, is an imaginary line you can approach but never seen to cross. But where they use it as an excuse to take shortcuts that abuse prospects trust we sometimes have to part company. It does not happen very often, and it hasn’t happened in more than a year, but perhaps three or four times in the last decade we have had to walk away from a sales or marketing strategy we didn’t feel was in the long term best interest of the startup or their prospects.

“Fame is something that must be won.
Honor is something that must not be lost.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

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  • Treat Social Capital With The Same Care as Cash
  • De Tocqueville on Concept of “Self Interest Rightly Understood”
    You meet people who have a clear understanding of their own needs and seem to spend no time on anything else. But the deals that they make seem to based only on fear and threat. To create real opportunities in your own business requires that you explore and understand the needs and aspirations of your current and potential customers. To bring them ideas that will improve their lives and businesses requires that they trust you have their interests at heart when they talk about current problems that may expose their weaknesses and shortcomings
  • Keeping Your Customers’ Trust [Includes a Recap of Weinberg's 11 Laws of Trust]
    I think B2B software is often purchased by firms hoping to achieve–or avoid–some sort of change. Like consulting, software is the promise of an ongoing business relationship.  The two essentials in a mutually satisfactory business relationship are trust and an exchange of value.
  • Sustaining Is More Important Than Starting
  • David Foster Wallace: The Only Choice We Get is What to Worship especially this section from Wallace’s talk:
    But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
  • Honesty in Negotiations
    One of the key tasks we help early stage teams with preparing for and executing successful negotiations.  There is a belief among some engineers that the best marketing and sales people are the most accomplished liars. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth. Most negotiations have long term consequences and involve interacting with people that you will encounter again and who know others you will encounter in the future.  I always assume that at some point in the future the folks I am negotiating will know the full truth of the situation and that very few secrets remain that way for long. In George Higgins‘ novel “Dreamland” a character remarks “I never forget and I always find out. ” I assume that about anyone that I am negotiating with.

Great Demo Workshop Attendee: “Holy Crap! My Demos Have Too Much Detail”

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Sales, skmurphy, Testimonial, Workshop

After every Great Demo! workshop we contact the attendees with a short E-Mail that reads in part:

I want to check-in to see how you have been doing using the ideas and skills we covered in our Great Demo! Workshop three months ago.  Specifically, I’d like to hear:

  1. What have been the results so far?
  2. Do you have any success stories to report or share?
  3. Any questions or new situations you’d like to discuss?

What follows is a redacted e-mail from a real attendee at a recent Great Demo workshop. We have his permission to post it, but he asked that we remove identifying information because of his candor about his approach to demos before he came to the workshop.

Hello Peter,

I would like to tell you that your workshop has had a positive impact not only on my demos, but also on my customer meetings in general.

The key message I took away, “Do the last thing first,” has proven very effective at increasing customer engagement in our demos. Our product is a sophisticated one with a long history–what are prospects sometimes describe as “very complex” or “arcane” even “confusing.” We sometimes present modules that–in hindsight–were of no of interest to the customer. This can not only turn a demo into a waste of everyone’s time but also convert a hot prospect into a lukewarm one.

It’s seems obvious now, but getting right to the point and then working backwards based on the customer’s level of  interest (“Peeling back the onion”) has triggered a lot more questions and demos that end in clearly defined next steps instead of “you’ve given us a lot to think about, please let us get back to you.”

The example that really punched me in the gut when I realized what I had been doing was your hyperkinetic  impersonation of someone doing a demo of Microsoft Word. Your first answer to  the question, “Can you print?” seemed  reasonable: you opened the print dialog box and walked through all the print options in detail–portrait or landscape, single or double-sided printing; color or black and white, number of copies, print quality, etc…

But when you did the second take and said “Yes, would you like to see it?” and clicked the print icon I had this terrible sinking feeling.

“Holy Crap! My demos have too much detail,” I said to myself.

Change is hard, but the three of us who attended your class took the “Great Demo” approach back and have seen a difference in the number of demos that now lead to sales that are progressing.

You may be in the same predicament if your approach demos involves one or more of the following:

  • You include a multi-slide corporate overview whether the prospect requests it or not.
  • Demos are viewed as an opportunity to provide training on your product.
  • It’s not uncommon for a demo to end with prospects sitting in stunned silence or murmuring, “let us think about this and get back to you” instead of asking questions.

We have two Great Demo! workshops on on the calendar for 2014 in San Jose

May 21&22, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now
October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now

Office Hours: Schedule Time To Walk Around Your MVP

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Lead Generation, Sales, skmurphy

Office Hours ButtonIf you are looking for advice on lead generation or closing deals consider scheduling “office hours” to walk around your current sales process or a particular opportunity you are trying to close. SKMurphy functions as a startup advisor to help you understand the process of building a business. We understand the challenges of selecting an advisor–and advising entrepreneurs–and have blogged about it a few times:

We offer a no-cost, no-obligation MVP Readiness Assessment.
Request a consultation at https://skmtest.wufoo.com/forms/skmurphy-office-hours/

Q: Resources For A Lean Approach to Sales, In Particular New Product Introduction

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, Sales, skmurphy, Workshop

Q: We have started selling and are looking for resources for a lean approach to sales, in particular for new product introduction.

Scott Sambucci and I presented a workshop at Lean Startup 2012 on “Engineering Your Sales Process.”
The deck is posted at http://www.slideshare.net/SalesQualia/engineering-your-sales-process

About 70% of the workshop is interaction with attendee on their specific early sales challenges so it’s not something that we video record.

Scott Sambucci has two books out that address early sales issues:

Here are two articles that offer useful overviews of what’s needed to define a sales process:

In addition here are some other books you may find helpful:

Here is a long interview I gave to Gabriel Weinberg on early stage B2B sales that many entrepreneurs have found useful: Sean Murphy on the first six enterprise customers

All of these resources talk about a systematic approach to selling for new products.  I continue to offer “Engineering Your Sales Process”® as a workshop for early stage teams. Please contact me if you would like to arrange for a workshop.

Improve Your Sales Pitch

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Sales, Startups, Workshop

Peter Cohan from Second Derivative offers some of the best sales demo/pitch training and hands-on learning that we have seen. So we are honored to offer these interactive workshops to startups.

Here is the upcoming schedule:

March 5&6, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now
May 21&22, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now
October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Rules of Thumb, Sales

A talk I enjoyed by Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

Some great insights from Apple, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers:

  • Why  -> How -> What
  • Why is not “to make a profit” that’s a result..
  • Why is your purpose, your reason for existence.
  • Common approach is What -> How -> Why but much less compelling.
  • People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.
  • Dr. King said “I have a dream” not “I have a comprehensive 12 point plan.”

Sinek is the author of “Start With Why”

 

Price Based On Your Value To The Customer’s Situation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, EDA, Sales, skmurphy

This is based on a real engagement that started with the conversation in “Living In Anticipation With Schrodinger’s Leads.”

The CEO placed a stack of about 30 business cards on the conference table: “See, here are all of the leads from the trade show.”

“Would you like us to put together a simple campaign where we e-mail them an update of what’s happened since the show and call them once or twice to see if they are interested in a longer demo or an evaluation?” I asked.

“No, that’s not why we asked you to come in, these guys will call when they are ready,” he answered, “We had a visit from someone in sales at BigCo [a large firm in Silicon Valley], he came by our office last week because they are interested in our product and we need your advice on the deal.”

I knew that the two founders had worked together at BigCo before striking out on their own two years earlier  when a downturn had triggered layoffs that they used it as an opportunity to launch their startup.

“I cannot figure out how to price the configuration,” the CTO spoke up for the first time, “I can’t figure out if I should charge $7,500 or $15,000. They could technically get by with one license but they should probably pay for two because they have come back and asked for some consulting to be bundled in to close the deal. We quoted had quoted them $7,500 but it seems like it may be a lot of work.”

For a brief moment I was reminded of an early morning ride to the airport on 280, the sun was barely up and the fog was very thick; we had left a little later than planned and were driving a little faster than visibility might have warranted. I really wanted to have the sun come up and burn off the fog.

“Can we just back up a minute and walk around the situation a little more? The guy from BigCo came to your offices? He didn’t ask you to come to his?” I asked. BigCo offices were only a few miles away but it would unusual for them to visit a small vendor unless they were serious about a deal and wanted to get a real sense of company size and activity level.

“Yes, Mike and I worked with him back at BigCo and he wanted to talk to us about deal for a license to help them with a contract they are working on with a Japanese company. He had called me earlier for a budgetary quote for a single license but now he wanted to negotiate a discount and get us to throw in some consulting to close the deal” the CTO elaborated.

“How much consulting?” I asked.

“They need us to convert the work in progress and library elements for a business unit of [a major Japanese company]. They are putting together a deal to sell software to about 120 engineers. If the Japanese engineers have to re-enter the work in the new system the deal won’t go through, if BigCo pays for outsource engineering time to do the translation by hand it’s probably a team of ten to twenty for three to six months. But they would do it by hand; if we use our tools it’s a week or two. The Japanese don’t like the idea of manual translation since the errors are unpredictable: if we do it automatically we also automatically verify, and if they find an error then we can fix our code and re-run. It’s cleaner,” the CTO concluded.

” OK, so aside from doing it with this outsource team do they have anybody else that can do the translation?” I asked.

“No one else has software that has already been used in production. We have two other customers using our tools to allow different teams to move this same kind of data back and forth between different systems,” the CEO explained.

We calculated that the deal was worth on the order of 2-3 million dollars in license revenue to BigCo and the outsourcer was probably going to charge between $60,000 and $240,000 depending upon the real scope and where engineering labor was located. So there was something like $1.5M to $2M in margin after cost of sales and support for the deal.

I suggested, “I think we should quote them between $400,000 and $600,000 for the translation, verification and support of the translation, and a license to access the translation technology on-site in Japan. You are going to be saving them direct cost of probably $120,000 or more, your approach is an order of magnitude faster, repeatable, scalable, and probably two to three orders of magnitude more accurate. You are enabling a $2M deal plus if they win this deal it means that they can flip other Japanese firms to their software. We will probably end up at half to two-thirds of the opening but we should start a the high end of a defensible value  range.”

“But we have already quoted them $7,500 for a license. How do I get to $400 grand?” the CEO protested.

I thought for a minute and then asked,”When does the quote expire?”

“I didn’t put an expiration on it,” the CTO said.

I said, “OK, we have to call your contact and send him an e-mail advising him that we will honor the quote for another 30 days but after further analysis of their requirements we think that they need a different product and some related consulting. We are happy to furnish them the license we quoted but we are not discounting it further and we are not throwing in any consulting to get the deal. We would like to request a meeting to fully scope the project but we anticipate  that it will cost between $400,000 and $600,000 to meet the quality and delivery expectations of his end customer.”

There was more back and forth but after we walked around it a few more times it was clear that they were bringing considerable value to BigCo to close this opportunity. We drafted and sent an e-mail to their contact and then read it aloud to his voicemail since it was now dark out and he had gone home.

We ended up in a meeting with at the BigCo site with folks from corporate and the lead salesperson from their Japanese distributor. This led to a month of serious conversations that uncovered some additional requirements that neither side had considered, allowed us to run some test cases that increased both sides confidence, and allowed us to develop a detailed multi-phase project plan that included not only our work but key tasks from their team and the Japanese customer.

It took another two months beyond that for BigCo to give us a purchase order–probably because the Japanese customer waited for the end of the year to squeeze the best deal out of them and they didn’t want to give us an order until then–for about $320,000 for a mix of licenses, a month of on-site work in Japan, and a year of support and follow up.

Especially when you are selling to enterprise you need to calculate the real value you are creating, this normally requires you to thoroughly understand their needs and constraints and develop what is typically a multi-phase project plan detailing commitments from both sides to make it happen.

Living in Anticipation With Schrodinger’s Leads

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, 5 Scaling Up Stage, EDA, Sales, skmurphy

The following is a real conversation–at least to the best of my recollection–from a few years ago.

We met with a startup that had made a few sales of a translation product and was also doing some consulting work that leveraged the capabilities of the next generation product they were developing. The current product was in production use at several firms. The two founders were engineers who each had more than decade of practical experience doing the kind of technical translation work that they had developed the product to help automate.

They had invited us in to see if we could help them generate more leads and close more deals. We met in October in their office, it was  a 20′ by 20′ space in a small complex chock full of other technology businesses. They had a conference table up front, one desk along each sidewall, and a row of bookshelves along the back full of technical manuals and papers.

They told us and they had attended an industry trade show a few months earlier in June, which prompted me to ask, ”Just to help us get some understanding of your current sales process, what happened to the leads you gathered from conversations at the trade show?”

The CEO got a smile on his face and said, “we got about three dozen business cards from folks who stopped by the booth and were interested in our software!”

There was a pause that lengthened and I realized I needed to probe further.

“So what happened next?” I asked.

The CEO said, “well, two of people who gave us cards called within a few weeks after the show and we sold three licenses to one of them, the other decided not to go forward after we gave them benchmark results.”

This was great news. “50% is a great close rate after a demo for a product that costs $7,500 dollars:  what happened with the rest?”

The CEO jumped up and said, “We still have the leads.” He walked to the back of room and pulled out a small cardboard box about the size of one they ship 250 business cards in. He brought it back to the table and opened, taking out a bundle wrapped in tissue paper. I was reminded for some reason of the way that people who collect comic books or baseball cards carefully pack away the items in their collection.

He unwrapped the bundle and there were about 30 business cards in the middle. “See: we still have the rest of the leads. They are all right here!”

“Would you like us to put together a simple campaign where we e-mail them an update of what’s happened since the show and call them once or twice to see if they are interested in a longer demo or an evaluation?” I asked.

“No, that’s not why we asked you to come in, these guys will call when they are ready,” he answered.

So, that was their sales model, they would demo at a trade show and answer the phone. As we talked a little more I realized that they could not face initiating a follow up conversation, it was easier to imagine the leads appreciating like a mint condition stamp or collectible action figure in an unopened box. In their mind the prospects were becoming more desperate and at some point would have to call them.

Whether your odds of closing a lead are one in two or one in ten you cannot treat an opportunity like Schrodinger’s cat, possibly still alive as long as you don’t look too closely. The only way to get better at sales is to start following up and having serious conversations with prospects.

Many B2B startup teams find early customers by doing business with people they already know and referrals from friends that come to them as warm leads. But in order not only to sustain but to grow your business you have to learn how to do business with strangers.

See also “Six Tips for Writing an E-Mail to a Prospect or Potential Partner

For why they actually called us in see Price Based On Your Value To The Customer’s Situation

Six Tips For Writing An E-Mail To A Prospect or Potential Partner

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

“I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It’s called “the bad version.” When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can’t yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.

For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won’t. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.”
Scott Adams in “How To Tax the Rich

Sometimes its easier to live in anticipation of a potential sale or business relationship than to initiate a conversation and risk getting rejected. If you are finding it hard to get started on an e-mail to a prospect or a potential partner here are a couple of things you can try:
  1. The Hollywood Approach: write the bad version. I realized in reading Scott Adam’s article “How To Tax the Rich“ that “writing the bad version” is something that we often do just to help a team move forward with an e-mail to a prospect or potential partner.
  2. The Schoolboy Approach: write an outline. Normally shorter is better for an opening e-mail and you may be able to expand each item into a single sentence instead of a paragraph or a section and be done.
  3. Add a Middleman: call/talk someone and explain the key points you want to make. Extra points for recording it to allow for easier capture instead of breaking your flow to write it down as you go. We sometimes act as an interviewer or a proxy for the target audience to help a client unlock insights.
  4. Quit Typing:  put down the keyboard and pick up the phone (or click on Skype) and call the person you owe the e-mail and make your points directly. Extra points for making your own recording of the voicemail you leave when you cannot reach them so that you can now send a more coherent e-mail.
  5. Begin With The End In Mind: Write the e-mail you would like to get in response to your e-mail. Use that as a guide to crafting your approach (from Stephen R. Covey’s 2nd Habit: “Begin With The End In Mind”).
  6. Use Your Right Brain Instead Of Your Left: sketch out the issue or proposal on a whiteboard, a piece of graph paper, a 3×5 card, or a napkin depending upon where inspiration strikes you.

See also

Engineering Your Sales Process Workshop Feb-8 Early Bird Closes This Weekend

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Events, Sales, skmurphy

Register Now Just a heads up that the early bird rates for our next “Engineering Your Sales Process®” Workshop close Sun-Jan-28.

This is the same workshop that Scott Sambucci and Sean Murphy offered at the Lean Startup Conference in December 2012 but we are limiting the attendance to 12 entrepreneurs to allow it to be even more interactive and in depth. Our focus is on entrepreneurs who are selling complex new products to businesses and face these challenges among others:

  • You can’t get potential customers to call back.
  • Prospects won’t make a decision.
  • Prospects like what they see in beta and ask for extensions but will not buy (yet).
  • Your deals stall.
  • Prospect stays with the status quo.

This interactive workshop will help you learn from these problems by using conscious planning and experimentation. Traditional sales training stresses “every no moves you closer to a yes.” Our approach to engineering your sales process says instead, “What looks like noise is often actually data.” Designing and debugging a repeatable sales process is key to a sustainable business, and we’ll address how to diagnose common problems to determine likely root causes. You will leave with a scientific approach to understanding your customers’ needs and their buying process so that you can scale your business in harmony with it.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc. has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore risk-reducing business options and build a scalable, repeatable sales process. SKMurphy, Inc. focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development. Their clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow.

Scott Sambucci is the Chief Sales Geek at SalesQualia, a company dedicated to improving sales performance. With more than 10 years in Silicon Valley and 15 years in sales, management, and entrepreneurial roles in the software and data industries, Scott merges the attributes of a successful salesperson and entrepreneur, putting his experience to work for SalesQualia clients every day. He’s lectured at numerous universities across the world, presented at TEDxHultBusinessSchool in San Francisco, and recently published  ”Startup Selling: How To Sell If You Really Really Have To And Don’t Know How.”

Register Now

LSC Workshop on Engineering Your Sales Process

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events, Sales, Startups

If you missed SKMurphy and SalesQualia at Lean Startup Conference’s workshop, Sean Murphy and Scott Sambucci led an interactive workshop on developing and debugging your repeatable and scalable B2B sales process. In the workshop, we worked a number of sales issues that the attendees from lean startups had:

  • Can’t get potential customers to call back
  • Won’t make a decision
  • Prospects like the beta, but they will not buy
  • Deals stall

Quick Summary

Engineering Your Sales Process workshop will help you learn from common sales problems by using conscious planning and experimentation. Traditional sales training stresses “every no moves you closer to a yes.” Our approach to engineering your sales process says instead, “What looks like noise is often actually data.” Designing and debugging a repeatable sales process is key to a sustainable business, and we’ll address how to diagnose common problems to determine likely root causes. You will leave with a scientific approach to understanding your customers’ needs and their buying process so that you can scale your business in harmony with it.

You can view the slides at http://www.slideshare.net/SalesQualia/engineering-your-sales-process.

Also here is the link to a readable version of the sales map in mindomo http://www.mindomo.com/view?m=e18b84e308994b1d95a032583f3885bcces

Workshop feedback

Engineering Your Sales Process Workshop on February 8, 2013

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events, Sales

All companies, even those that take a lean approach, face these problems in B2B sales:

  • You can’t get potential customers to call back
  • They won’t make a decision
  • They seem to like a ever-ending beta, but they will not buy
  • Your deals stall

This interactive workshop will help you learn from these problems by using conscious planning and experimentation. Traditional sales training stresses “every no moves you closer to a yes.” Our approach to engineering your sales process says instead, “What looks like noise is often actually data.” Designing and debugging a repeatable sales process is key to a sustainable business, and we’ll address how to diagnose common problems to determine likely root causes. You will leave with a scientific approach to understanding your customers’ needs and their buying process so that you can scale your business in harmony with it.

Early Bird $99

Regular $129

Register Engineering Your Sales Process

Where: Silicon Valley, CA

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc. has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore risk-reducing business options and build a scalable, repeatable sales process. SKMurphy, Inc. focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development. Their clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow.

Scott Sambucci is the Chief Sales Geek at SalesQualia, a company dedicated to improving sales performance. With more than 10 years in Silicon Valley and 15 years in sales, management, and entrepreneurial roles in the software and data industries, Scott merges the attributes of a successful salesperson and entrepreneur, putting his experience to work for SalesQualia clients every day. He’s lectured at numerous universities across the world, presented at TEDxHultBusinessSchool in San Francisco, and recently published “Startup Selling: How to sell if you really, really have to and don’t know how.”

Averting Stalled Sales Opportunities Webinar

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Sales

Finish LineAre you tired of working hard on a sales opportunity only to find an unexpected issue that stalls the sales process?

You are not alone!

Having an effective sales planning process, sharing insight across the internal team and enabling great demos, greatly improves sales productivity and use of resources. Learn how to make this happen and greatly improve your sales results, including:

  • Reducing “no decisions”
  • Avoid having to go back two steps
  • Improving sales process inefficiencies
  • Work on better opportunities
  • Use your resources more effectively

In this webinar, Averting Stalled Sales Opportunities, Ron Snyder and Peter Cohan show you the key steps to forestall a stalled sales process.

Topics covered:

  • The Challenge causing stalled sales
  • Elements of a Successful Plan
  • Guiding the Sales Process- using the Plan
  • Coordinating Activities, including Demos
  • A Sample Plan

Sign up for the webinar here and receive your copy of the article: “How to Write a Strategic Account Plan.”  Select the date that is most convenient for you;

  • November 29 at 12:00 noon Pacific time
  • December 10 at 12:00 noon Pacific time

Ron Snyder, of Breakthrough, Inc. and Plan 2 Win Software, has trained thousands of salespeople and managers on sales effectiveness, territory and account planning. Prior to that, he was a top ranked sales salesperson at Hewlett-Packard and a manager in the field sales force and a marketing manager.

Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of The Second Derivative, focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results – primarily through improving organizations’ demonstrations.

Sean Murphy, the moderator, is CEO at SKMurphy providing customer development services for high-tech companies. SKMurphy focus is on early customers and early revenue.

Please feel free to contact us for more information.
Ron Snyder
Plan2Win Software
rsnyder@Plan2WinSoftware.com

Peter Cohan
The Second Derivative
PCohan@SecondDerivative.com

Engineering Your Sales Process Workshop at 2012 Lean Startup Conference

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Sales

I was invited to give a workshop the day after the Dec-3-2012 Lean Startup Conference and have teamed up with Scott Sambucci to offer a revised and improved version of our “Engineering Your Sales Process.” Here is the overview for this half day workshop:

All companies, even those that take a lean approach, face these problems in B2B sales:

  • You can’t get potential customers to call back
  • They won’t make a decision
  • They seem to like a ever-ending beta, but they will not buy
  • Your deals stall

This interactive workshop will help you learn from these problems by using conscious planning and experimentation. Traditional sales training stresses “every no moves you closer to a yes.” Our approach to engineering your sales process says instead, “What looks like noise is often actually data.” Designing and debugging a repeatable sales process is key to a sustainable business, and we’ll address how to diagnose common problems to determine likely root causes. You will leave with a scientific approach to understanding your customers’ needs and their buying process so that you can scale your business in harmony with it.

You can register at http://leanstartupconf2012.eventbrite.com/

Book Club: Lessons Learned Implementing “Great Demo!” Methodology

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Demos, Sales

Book Club For Business Impact logo Live roundtable on lessons learned implementing the “Great Demo!” methodology Tue-Sep-4-2012

  • 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 1:00 p.m. Mountain
  • 2:00 p.m. Central / 3:00 p.m. Eastern
  • 8:00 PM London / 9:00 PM Paris & Berlin

Signup

Update Sept 6: “Recap and Audio from “Lessons Learned Implementing Great Demo! Methodology

Cohan Great Demo

Great Demo!: How To Create And Execute Stunning Software Demonstrations

by Peter Cohan

Great Demo! provides sales and pre-sales staff with a method to dramatically increase their success in closing business through substantially improved software demonstrations. It draws upon the experiences of thousands of demonstrations, both delivered and received from vendors and customers. The distinctive “Do the Last Thing First” concept generates a “Wow!” response from customers.

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Additional Book Reviews

Managing Oneself Article
Boyd-OODA The Lean Startup
Moore's Darwin and the Demon HRB article
Cohan Great Demo
Origin and Evolution

Scott Sambucci: Seven Tips For Selling as a Startup Founder

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Rules of Thumb, Sales, skmurphy

Scott Sambucci of Sales Qualia recently self-published a great book on selling entitled “Startup Selling: How to Sell If You Really, Really Have to and Don’t Know How…” It’s a slim volume chock full of practical advice for entrepreneurs new to selling to businesses. Unlike many business books that have 20 pages of useful content puffed to 240 or 480 pages this is packed with useful rules of thumb, actionable insights, and tips for recognizing and diagnosing a host of early stage sales challenges. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to get up to speed quickly on selling to business, in particular selling software, this book belongs on your short list of “must reads.”

Here are his first seven rules that are often violated but easy to fix in ways that will immediately improve your sales effectiveness; I have added some commentary after :

1. For inbound calls and leads find out why the prospect is inquiring about your products and services

The why has two branches:

  • What is  the problem they are trying to solve or goal they hope to reach with your product. Their view of their need is the most important aspect of you should frame your offering.
  • What led them to contact you in particular. Too often we are tempted to jump into a sales pitch without understanding what led to a call, was it a website, a recommendation from a friend, seeing an on-line video, hearing a talk, reading an article, etc..

2. Jumping right into a sales demo on the first call is the kiss of death.

In my first job as a post-sale application engineer I was asked to help a developer introduce a new product to an existing account. We called on one of my accounts that was happy with our products and when invited to “tell us what you have for us” he excitedly jumped into a 15 minute high speed monolog explaining all of benefits of being able to simulate certain constructs in a design.  They were silent: they couldn’t tell if they could use it. Because we hadn’t asked them questions about their use of the constructs that we could now enable them to simulate, we spent another 15 minutes painfully backtracking and attempting to do some discovery of whether or not they had a compelling need for the product.

When we debriefed afterward we realized that we didn’t have a map of the target so we didn’t know where to focus our discussion. Before I took him to my next account I asked the contact some questions in advance to determine if and where they were in pain over the inability to simulate these constructs. We were able to focus on problems that they knew they had.

About a month later, after we had debugged our engagement process and had some interest from other accounts, I was able to bring him back for a second visit to the first account, that session was much more conversational and they decided to evaluate and ultimately purchase the product.

You have to elicit symptoms and offer a diagnosis before you offer your prescription

3. Use the telephone as the default mode of communication.

At first I thought Scott overstated this one but I think he is correct, to build rapport and advance the sale you have to have conversations. These can be face or face or over the phone/skype/VoiP but the need to be synchronous to get into the easy back and forth.

4. Speak human.

This one is hard because it means that you get rejected as a person. But if you don’t act like a real person and treat your prospects as people, you can rarely build the rapport necessary to closing a deal.

5. A lead is only a person of interest. A prospect is qualified individual for whom your product or service is a clear match.

A lead can satisfy some objective criteria – e.g a person with a particular title (or possible set of titles) in an industry and perhaps a particular location or geographical region. But to be a prospect you have to have some idea of the value your offering will deliver that value within their time frame and in excess of the total cost of your solution to them

6. A prospect’s decision criteria is a formative process. It will always take more than a single call to determine.

I would add buying process to decision criteria because it’s as important to determine not only their criteria but what will be required to actually close the deal.

7. It’s never about the money. It’s about the cost.

Scott makes some great points about calculating the impact of your features, packaging, delivery, and support process on their total cost of acquisition and ownership.  I think two other factors startups neglect hoping that they can cut price to compensate are the risks involved in the decision and the business, technical, and support aspects of the ongoing relationship. For software in particular, a sale to a business is the start of an ongoing relationship. And that relationship is not evaluated purely on price.

At $7 and 130 pages, “Startup Selling: How to Sell If You Really, Really Have to and Don’t Know How…” is not only a quick read but a useful reference (also available as an e-book) that belongs in your library if you are a startup founder new to selling.


I blogged about Scott Sambucci’s August 2008 blog post on  “An Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned” in November of 2008 “Scott Sambucci on An Entrepreneur’s Lessons Learned

Great Demo! Workshop on October 10 & 11, 2012

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Demos, Events, Sales

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it — we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo. More information

Core Seminar & Advanced Topics
October 10 & 11, 2012
Cost: $930 (Before Sep-24: $895)
Register Great Demo
Single Day – Core Seminar Only
October 10, 2012
Cost: $620 (Before Sep-24: $595)

Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop

“I am confident that with the insights gained from your workshop we will land more customers in fewer iterations.”
Lav Pachuri, CEO, Xleron Inc.

“Peter Cohan’s Great Demo method really works. It helped us win DEMOgod, and it has allowed us to explain our offering much more clearly to prospects.”
Chaim Indig, CEO, Phreesia
(See “DEMOgod Winner Phreesia Praises Peter Cohan Training“)

More information on the workshop

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Peter Cohan, Principal at Second Derivative
Community Web Site: www.DemoGurus.com

Peter Cohan is the founder and a principal of The Second Derivative, a consultancy focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results. In July 2004, he enabled and began moderating DemoGurus®, a community web exchange dedicated to helping sales and marketing teams improve their software demonstrations. In 2003, he authored Great Demo!, a book that provides methods to create and execute compelling demonstrations. The 2nd edition of Great Demo! was published March 2005.

Before The Second Derivative, Peter founded the Discovery Tools® business unit at Symyx Technologies, Inc., where he grew the business from an empty spreadsheet into a $30 million operation. Prior to Symyx, Peter served in marketing, sales, and management positions at MDL Information Systems, a leading provider of scientific information management software. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. and the board of advisors for Excellin, Inc. He holds a degree in chemistry.

Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manage and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.

Day 1 Agenda:

  • 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:15 AM Workshop begins
  • Noon Lunch
  • 1 PM Workshop Continues
  • 5 PM Wrap up

Day 2 Agenda:

  • 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:15 AM Workshop begins on Advanced Topics
  • 12:30pm Wrap up

Seating is Limited

For more information: Theresa 408-252-9676 events@skmurphy.com

Great Demo Workshop on May 23, 2012

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Demos, Events, Sales, Silicon Valley

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

When: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8 am – 5 pm
Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop

Cost: $620
Before May. 1: $595

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it — we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo!

Register Great Demo

This seminar outlines a framework for the creation and delivery of improved demos and presentations to enable increased success in the marketing, sale, and deployment of software and related products. Whether it’s face to face, in a webinar, as a screencast, or as a self-running demo the ability to present the key benefits of your software product is essential to generating prospect interest and ultimately revenue. Peter Cohan of The Second Derivative gives us the recipe for a Great Demo!

“I am confident that with the insights gained from your workshop we will land more customers in fewer iterations.”
Lav Pachuri, CEO, Xleron Inc.

“Peter Cohan’s Great Demo method really works. It helped us win DEMOgod, and it has allowed us to explain our offering much more clearly to prospects.”
Chaim Indig, CEO, Phreesia
(See “DEMOgod Winner Phreesia Praises Peter Cohan Training“)

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Peter Cohan, Principal at Second Derivative
Community Web Site: www.DemoGurus.com

Peter Cohan is the founder and a principal of The Second Derivative, a consultancy focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results. In July 2004, he enabled and began moderating DemoGurus®, a community web exchange dedicated to helping sales and marketing teams improve their software demonstrations. In 2003, he authored Great Demo!, a book that provides methods to create and execute compelling demonstrations. The 2nd edition of Great Demo! was published March 2005.

Before The Second Derivative, Peter founded the Discovery Tools® business unit at Symyx Technologies, Inc., where he grew the business from an empty spreadsheet into a $30 million operation. Prior to Symyx, Peter served in marketing, sales, and management positions at MDL Information Systems, a leading provider of scientific information management software. Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. and the board of advisors for Excellin, Inc. He holds a degree in chemistry.

Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manage and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.

Agenda:

  • 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:15 AM Workshop begins
  • Noon Lunch
  • 1 PM Workshop Continues
  • 5 PM Wrap up

Seating is Limited

For more information: Theresa 408-252-9676 events@skmurphy.com

Cutting Your Teeth in Sales

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Sales

Elephants are born with a set of molars – two on top and two on the bottom. When these teeth wear down, they’re replaced with a new set. In fact, in an elephant’s 65-year lifespan, these molars are replaced five times.

During the two-year period when the new teeth are coming in, it hurts like crazy. So, to help them deal with the pain, the elephants chew rocks.

I’ve chewed rocks at least five times in my sales career.  Each time, my old sales skills were no longer sufficient to feed me anymore and I had to grow new ones. At first, you don’t even know what to do – just that it’s getting more and more difficult to get the business. So you just chew harder and complain about it to everyone you know.

Ultimately, you realize that you need new teeth.  Are you chewing harder than ever before, but getting fewer results?

Excerpts from “Sales Wisdom of the Elephant” by Jill Konrath

If you are an entrepreneur then sales is always a part of your responsibility. Perhaps not your primary responsibility, but always something that your actions impact directly.  Sanjay Srinivasta gave a very candid talk at TiE  on his entrepreneurial journey in March of this year. One of the lessons he shared from founding and growing Denali

“In a startup, it may look like a sales problem or a marketing problem but it’s an engineering problem.  There is something you can do to the product to affect the situation.”

Even technical entrepreneurs can have an impact and are normally intrinsic to the early sales process.

If you are selling to businesses, in particular if it’s a complex or orchestrated sale, Jill Konrath has written two good books on the process that are very accessible, full of practical examples, and provide a process and checklist perspective that engineers and scientists may find easier to relate to than other more anecdotally driven books.

We also offer a private half-day workshop for B2B startups on “Engineering your Sales Process” that addresses

  • Your Customer’s Buying Process: Understand, Believe, Act
  • Your Sales Process:  Lead Generation through Closing
  • Techniques for Shortening the Sales Process & Cutting Time to Revenue
  • Analyzing and Debugging Your Sales Process: Finding Revenue Leaks

We have been offering this for four years now and have taken several startups through it this year, if you are interested in learning more or scheduling one please contact us.


Related blog posts:

The Fourth Quarter of 2011

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Sales, skmurphy

It's Later Than You ThinkHard to believe that 2011 is already three-quarters over. Slightly more actually. I need to take the time in the next week to recap our goals for 2011 and recalibrate what is still “in the feasible region.” If I am feeling more ambitious I will also sketch out a preliminary list of goals for 2012. It’s always easier in December to revise a list than to start with a blank piece of paper.

If you need to take the time to re-plan but cannot find it, remember that the end of Daylight Savings Time on November 6 (if you are in the US, elsewhere your mileage may vary) will give you back an hour you can use.

There are only about 40 “selling days” left if you are trying to close deals with businesses. But it’s worse than that. If you haven’t started a conversation with a new prospect by mid-November you will likely get asked to “contact me in the new year when I have a better idea of where we are.” Same guidelines apply if you are looking for potential beta sites.  It’s later than you think.

The future is an abstraction, all change is happening now.”
Marcelo Rinesi

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