24
Jan

Can You Fast Track an Endorsement for Your Product by Hiring an Influential Person with an Address Book?

Technology businesses familiar with the positive impact that can be produced by winning the endorsement of an individual who is well respected in a market, often attempt to obtain comparable results by hiring staff members (usually for a sales role) who seem to know all the right people in a specific geography or market segment. This type of sales person is referred to as someone “with an address book.”

In a best case scenario for this strategy, prospects will gravitate towards a product based upon an endorsement from this sales person with an address book, who either “knows everyone” or looks as if she played a key role in a number of successful implementations of similar products for the same markets. In our experience, sales people with address books are generally no more productive than their peers. There a couple of reasons for the rather poor return on effort:

  • the hiring business failed to carefully review the contacts listed in the sales woman’s address book
  • or the sales woman did not actually play the project role that she should have played if she were to successfully deliver on her potential for the hiring business

In either case, it should be clear that obtaining the most benefit from hiring someone who looks like an influential party in a market depends upon thoroughly checking credentials, and really understanding the roles of individuals who will make purchase decisions on one’s product. Successfully implementing a background check can be a difficult task for a technology business that is new to a market, and otherwise unfamiliar with the information that must be collected to make an accurate call as to whether a candidate for the position can deliver on an investment, or not.

Simply put, if the contacts in an address book are to be useful, then they must be widely respected as individuals with a long history of successfully implementing comparable solutions for projects. Further, the candidate, herself, must be able to demonstrate, without a doubt, that she either sold the components to these decision-makers, or played a key role, herself, in the project, itself.

Often, the individual hired into one of these positions proves to simply have all the right names on her list, but not much more. Perhaps she worked alongside a successful colleague who actually closed the sales, or she played a role in the implementation of competitive products, but in a capacity far removed from the actual decision-makers. If either of these scenarios are at hand, the hiring business should pause to carefully consider the hire. Better to move slowly, for a right candidate, than to move quickly where there are clear gaps between what a candidate offers and your business requires.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

17
May

Select Sales Professionals Who can Manage Prospects and Customers

It is essential that enterprise sales personnel keep early stage conversations with prospects on track. The cliche “the customer is always right” is, quite often, dead wrong. In fact, most prospects are unclear about what they are looking for. Further, prospects in the role of decision-makers are usually very comfortable engaging with other personnel from a position of authority. These people almost always assume an authoritative posture when dealing with sales people. Therefore, sales personnel selected by an innovative tech business to lead enterprise sales efforts must have the type of personality to normally engage with decision-makers, regardless of any authoritative stance that the other party in the conversation may appear to assume.

Further, the best enterprise sales personnel will avoid any type of reactive posturing when engaging with decision-makers. For these personalities, it is strictly SOP to keep on track despite efforts on the part of the other party in the conversation to veer dangerously off the road to, for example, obtain merely a price quote, or to simply jump to a proposal without any useful information about needs or solutions that may or may not be relevant. The fact is that the personality type of these sales personnel lends itself to this type of engagement with prospects. When a bullying prospect acts like wrecking ball these sales personalities mysteriously vaporize, which lets the wrecking ball, harmlessly, swing wildly in empty air.

It is important to understand that permitting conversations to go off track at a very early stage in the prospect development process almost always leads to very low probability opportunities. As these low probability opportunities stack up, sales personnel may be very hard at work, but the work they are expending will almost always fall into very early stage prospect qualification.

In order to move forward prospect engagements must be kept strictly on track. Without meaningful information that your product/service/integrated solution can satisfy some important need there is absolutely no point whatsoever jumping into presentations or, worse, pricing and proposals. Prospects who refuse to participate in an information gathering process that affords all parties an opportunity to determine whether or not it makes sense to continue a discussion are simply not worth the time. Very often it makes sense to prune closed up prospects from sales campaigns. But some of the time analysis will show that a lack of information supporting prospect engagement must be directly attributed to sales personnel who can’t keep discussions on track. In these cases businesses must make a change if revenue targets are to be hit.

We welcome opportunities to engage with companies looking to add the right sales personnel to handle their selling needs. You may telephone Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

30
Mar

Include a psychological picture of sales and marketing candidates as standard operating procedure for innovative tech recruitment

Analyzing the results of personality testing tools like a Myers Briggs profile or the results of a Kuder vocational aptitude test is a worthwhile activity for recruiters who need to identify staff for innovative technology businesses. In our experience there are identifiable patterns of personality types with regard to assembling a composite picture of a “right” individual to either lead an innovative technology business or to fill a management requirement. The above mentioned tests can and will shed light as to whether or not an individual is a good candidate for targeted requirements.

Therefore, innovative technology businesses should have the resources to purchase recruiting services that provide, at a minimum, the results of these tests or acceptable substitutes. Deviating from the norm is not recommend with regards to choosing senior managers. Further, the internal hiring team should ideally include individuals who have experience recruiting winning teams of participants. If the members of the internal hiring team do not have this type of experience, then management should select a recruitment firm that can fill the gap.

Consistently adhering to these guidelines pays off. Simply consider the success of EMC Corporation in the mid 1990s. Many of the regional sales executives of EMC in the period of 1995 to 2000 pulled down compensation packages in the high 6 figures. Some of the regional executives earned 7 figure compensation. Of course, these compensation packages were the direct result of excellent performance to sales plans. The facts were that EMC was trouncing competitors across most markets; therefore, sales compensation was very attractive and entirely consistent with sales performance.

Much was said at the time about the competitiveness of EMC Sales staff; specifically, management had made a point of recruiting individuals who enjoyed competition, usually through sports. By carefully selecting a “right” personality type EMC sales management successfully assembled a super team of producers who more than delivered planned revenue targets.

If a joy in competition and, specifically, winning is an important personality trait for highly successful sales staff, then persistence against adversity, patience, and a dedication to merciless self reflection and a willingness to take counsel from a wide range of confidants is clearly characteristic of successful entrepeneurs in the tech business space.

As mentioned above, we highly recommend that innovative technology businesses pay close attention to staffing candidates to ensure that the candidate chosen for a position does, in fact, embody the personality traits required of the position. We can certainly help make the likelihood that such a choice becomes a reality. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Mar

On the Value of a Liberal Arts Education for Marketing and Sales Leadership

The best marketers that we have encountered, whether the inventor of a piece of foundation-level process automation equipment (the PLC), or an individual who took three different business ventures to independent public offerings are each characterized by a healthy, rich combination of creativity, business acumen, common sense/logic and, finally, an ability to communicate information (verbally and in writing) in a big way. It is worth looking closely at creativity and communications. We are very much of the opinion that the most promising tech business prospects will be built by a management team that features at least one key individual who can utilize creativity and communications skills successfully. It is important to emphasize, as we wrote in one of the earliest posts to this blog, tech businesses entirely driven by engineering rarely produce the type of market impact that we are after.

Creativity
Admittedly, so-called creativity can be as much a product of an education in mathematics or physics as it can be the product of a course of study that emphasizes fine arts or liberal arts. One can even contend that creativity can also be learned from left side of the brain exercises like meditation practice, or yoga. Therefore, it is difficult to delineate a narrow range of educational options that will produce a proclivity for creativity. Most very early stage tech businesses with big impact potential will be driven by a CEO who provides the requisite creativity factor for the business. If the CEO can not provide the creative factor, then she/he ought to make every effort to add other members to the core management team who can deliver the required creativity. Further, it is very beneficial if the individual who provides the creative spark, who is nevertheless not the CEO, is chosen to head up marketing. After all, it is specifically in the areas of product marketing and marketing communications that creativity can be implemented to deliver high value to the growth potential for the business.

Communications
A liberal arts education and, specifically, a strong background in language arts (for businesses based in the United States the language will be English) are absolutely required for management driving marketing communications. After all, marketing communications is all about language regardless of chosen marketing media (don’t lose sight of the fact that video clips require scripts). Therefore only an individual who can demonstrate substantial dexterity with language should be chosen to head up marketing communications.

So-called “charisma”, then again, is a horse of a different color. The most charismatic entrepeneurs that we ever encountered produced charisma from very much unexpected backgrounds:

  • One was otherwise dyslexic
  • The other was clinically deaf

Therefore we cannot posit a great background for “charisma” beyond noting that we (along with lots of other people) will know it when we see it.

We are interested in staff recruitment requirements for tech businesses targeting enterprise markets. If you need to staff up with senior management and would like to discuss your needs, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

23
Nov

Prepare for a Long Haul for Enterprise Sales if You Plan on Attracting Sales Talent

Plan on at least a year and a half full time operation with zero sales if your target market is enterprise (Fortune 1000) business and you are just starting up your innovative technology product or service company. Zero sales does not mean that you proceed on your journey without sales people. On the contary, it is imperative that you have top sales talent (as well as marketing talent) on your management team if you are to give your start up its best shot. Consider how much has to be accomplished in preparation for sales revenue. For example, you will have test the sales potential for planned products to ensure that your revenue forecasts are sensible and attainable. Sales testing includes

  • Obtaining permission from influential prospects to participate in product planning along with you
  • Building a reliable sales model that includes a realistic estimate of the length of the sales cycle and, of most importance, a portrait of a best customer that will provide the bases for the qualifiers that your sales team will use to rank sales leads and determine where best to spend their time
  • Gathering sales level intelligence (as opposed to market level intelligence) about your competitors, their customers and the public reputation for their products
  • Building an initial sales funnel of qualified leads that will produce sales

As well, your sales talent will participate along with marketing and finance in the development of your business plan.

So how to compensate sales during this period of zero sales? The old adage, “you get what you pay for” holds true. Pay nothing and, more often than not, get nothing. A realistic business plan must include compensation for sales talent. Offering equity participation works, but only for sales personnel with the financial resources to weather your first year and a half period of zero sales. You might be fine restricting your recruiting to only sales people with the resources to go the distance, in exchange for an equity stake in your business and, then again, you may not.

I recommend planning on a sales staff budget of $75K – $95K for year one of your business. Of course any equity participation that you are willing to grant will sweeten the deal, so don’t neglect to include any equity that you can in your offer. Committing to a realistic sales staff budget will afford you the opportunity of hiring a sales manager (potentially a VP of sales) as a full time employee.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved