A few thought on sales from David Cummings

We had a new sales intern starting about 10 days ago. This was the occasion to dive into some relevant advice from David Cummings I read a while back.

The first 30 days for a new sales rep is all about shadowing existing team members as well as training with the sales manager. Then, by the end of the month, it’s time for live calling and prospecting. Training is a critical part of the sales rep on-boarding process.

The sales team should be working towards a reproducible, and profitable, sales process. As part of that iteration, a sales playbook should be at the top of the sales manager or entrepreneurs list of items. A sales playbook is the how-to manual for a sales rep.

Last but not least, interesting advice about connecting the Product to the Wallet:
Last week I was talking with an entrepreneur about their new product focus. After digging in, he volunteered something that really stuck with me: their new direction connects the product with the wallet in a way it never was before. Similar to the idea of candy, pain-killers, or vitamins, products that can clearly demonstrate an increase in revenue for the customer are more desirable.
With a good ROI demonstrator, pretty much every product should be able to do this. It is one of the keys of a successful sales process.

What's a blog good for, anyway?

Literally billions more people now have a much simpler way to express themselves online thanks to the ease-of-use that is characteristic of any service that seeks to focus on one particularly aspect of communication, a big contrast to a blog’s ability to do anything and everything relatively poorly. It’s fair to ask just what a blog is good for anyway.
This sentence from Ben Thompson's latest Stratechery article rang true on my side. I started blogging back at the end of 2006, over at Blogger. I blogged there for a while, then switched to Posterous for the ease of use of its email-to-post feature. When Posterours was shut down by Twitter, I moved over to Posthaven, where this blog still lives.

Over the course of those years, I tried a lot of other publication services. Facebook, of course. TwitterQuoraMedium. Each of them offers a specific set of features that makes them for specific use cases. Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch with your friends. Twitter is instantaneous. Quora gives you reach over a specific audience. Medium offers amazing publishing tools.

Yet I find myself coming back to this blog. It's the only place where I can control my identity on the web. I am this blog, and this blog is me. It's the only place where I can control exactly how what I have to say is presented. The domain name is mine. I pay for the service so that I can avoid ads. As it turns out, I'm not the only one feeling this way:
And there, in that definition, is the reason why, despite the great unbundling, the blog has not and will not die: it is the only communications tool, in contrast to every other social service, that is owned by the author; to say someone follows a blog is to say someone follows a person.
And that's definitely something no other service will give you.

Catching up on 2014!

Long time no posts... Let's blog back to life in 2015 with a selection of posts from 2014 I found interesting but never got to posting:

Management Clichés That Work by Steven Sinofsky

The following 15 clichés might prove helpful and worth making sure you’re really doing the things in product development that need to get done on a daily basis. Some of these are my own wording of other’s thoughts expressed differently. There’s definitely a personal story behind each of these...

Plenty of them are must-follow lessons.
It was 10 years ago and I was CEO at my previous company. I had been called out by an employee on one of our core values of only hiring "passionate" people. I fumbled my way through an excuse, but they were right. We had done a great job with a purpose and vision, but the values were vague, trite, and ultimately useless in decision-making or inspiring people. It was like asking the contractor working on your house to "make it more interesting."...
Easy to say, harder to do!

Policing by consent by Jason Kottke

In light of the ongoing policing situation in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer and how the response to the community protests is highlighting the militarization of US police departments since 9/11, it's instructive to look at one of the first and most successful attempts at the formation of a professional police force...
Interesting re-read after the recent events in France.

The basic gist is that in situations where costs come before revenue (like, say, a sales force for selling to enterprise), chasing growth over making money increases the amount of long-term profitability. Seriously, read the whole thing.

Suster’s article was not about Box specifically; for that I refer you to Dave Kellogg’s piece, Burn Baby Burn: A Look at the Box S-1. He concludes that the Box numbers are very reasonable and that the business is scaling well...

Interesting re-read in the wake f the Box IPO.

Most of you have never heard of Energy Future Holdings. Consider yourselves lucky; I certainly wish I hadn’t. The company was formed in 2007 to effect a giant leveraged buyout of electric utility assets in Texas. The equity owners put up $8 billion and borrowed a massive amount in addition. About $2 billion of the debt was purchased by Berkshire, pursuant to a decision I made without consulting with Charlie. That was a big mistake.

Unless natural gas prices soar, EFH will almost certainly file for bankruptcy in 2014. Last year, we sold our holdings for $259 million. While owning the bonds, we received $837 million in cash interest. Overall, therefore, we suffered a pre-tax loss of $873 million. Next time I’ll call Charlie. 

A must-read. Waiting for the 2014 letter!

Article: Spend Time Educating the Team on How the Business Works

Good advice from David Cummings:

One area that’s under appreciated by many entrepreneurs is the value of educating team members on how different aspects of the business [...]. There’s value in taking time to make sure everyone has at least a cursory understanding of different departments and key drivers of the business model. [...]

People inherently want to grow and learn as part of their own journey, and providing a more broad-based education in a startup helps. Spend time educating the team and the team will return the favor with more ideas and innovation.

I've seen this in action several times: when behavior from the sales team is perceived as being wrong and/or stupid by the client project team, a short explanation of its rationale usually goes a long way into alleviating concerns.