Thanks to a16z and Peter Levine for this course.
In fact, I just recorded the 82nd episode of a daily vlog I've been keeping, while developing a new product (haven't published a single episode, yet). Closed beta starts in a few days. I think it's pretty interesting stuff (I meant to do this, ever since I discovered Alex Bloomberg's Startup podcast) and I honestly hope to win-over even folks who prefer print, like yourself. Of course, my main focus is on the product, but it will be absolutely amazing, if even a few people get inspired from the story surrounding its creation.
Is there any chance I can get a contact of yours? (I am always in the middle of a project that can benefit from the constructive criticism of smart people, so I will be happy to stay in touch)
You can use the contacts in my profile if you don't want to post yours' here.
A similar analogy to engineering also applies I guess. One who functions well in a corporate engineering department - with a ton of support might not do well in an early stage startup and vice versa.
These strategy videos are great. Does anyone have a recommendation on an equivalent for the day-to-day of working a pipeline?
Thull's approach is rooted in a developing a deep understanding of how you can create value (real value, mind you) for your customers, and to communicate with them in a way that conveys a very honest and sincere approach. As opposed to the old "Always Be Closing" mantra ala Glengarry Glen Ross, Thull advocates an "Always Be Leaving" approach, where you leave as soon as it's obvious that your solution isn't good for the customer. He would have you recommend a competitor's product if it's actually the better choice, etc. The idea is, as I understand it, two-fold:
1. Trying to sell a solution to a customer who doesn't really need it / has better options, is wasting your time
2. The more honest relationship you develop doing this this way will benefit you down the road when the same customer has new needs and your product is the best solution, or when they recommend you to their friends because you treated them with respect, etc.
If I had to summarize it in a way that is probably grossly over-simplifying, but which still captures a lot of the spirit of the thing (I think), I'd say it comes down to:
1. Develop a very deep understanding of your customer, their business, their market, etc.
2. Be hyper-honest with your customers.
I think this approach has a lot going for it, but again, I can't say from real first-hand experience because I haven't spent enough time in the field actually working it. Ask me in a year and hopefully I'll know a lot more.
The suggested ad text for a "superstar" employee (what kind of advice is that anyway? "Hire smart people"? Eh thanks!) reads like the most generic job ad ever.
And having "How much would you pay to save your own life?” as a health insurance advertisement? That's some /r/LateStageCapitalism material
These kind of stuff are the rare gems you get once in a while from HN.
Jordan Belfort's straight line persuasion sales training video series offer an interesting analysis of how to perform direct to consumer telephone sales:
For anyone that's looking for similar resources. Here's another awesome series I came across (while searching for YC resources on this topic): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLb1c0oEEXWIZiWzdtUOUh...
It was apparently a 'Sales School' for one of the YC batches in 2014. Hadn't heard of Steli before, his videos really give me a lot of energy. He also reinforced my belief that founders have to be great at selling their creation and gave me insights on what it takes to be great at sales.
I feel like there is no better way to penetrate through the noise of the internet and products/services out there that Sales has to become aggressive. I don't think there is a solution to this? Is there?
However, when I look at what he is saying objectively, he is suggesting quite the opposite from what the tone implies. A good sales person is a great listener, one that doesn't make you feel like the way you described. Overall, I love the series because of what I learnt from it, on viewing it objectively.
I found these helpful because it was less "here's 10 closing tips and tricks!" and more about the sales process.
This being said, slight nitpick on #11 and #12.
Include clawbacks, especially if you're fairly dependent on sales / more geared towards high touch deals.
This obviously goes on hand in hand with reasonable targets.
Otherwise you create an incentive for sales people to make their number in any way they can to meet their ridiculous target / driven by the usual greed.
The hidden cost of that can potentially be huge, especially if your pool of potential customers is -relatively- small.
A good readup on B2C from a mostly 1 man successful startup is from peter levels here. https://makebook.io/.
Close is much simpler and BS free than Salesforce. Most sales teams I know dislike using salesforce as it is almost always configured to be more complicated than necessary.
I’ve worked with two startups that started with Close.io and pretty much outgrew it by the time they had 3 salespeople. It’s made for very small and simple sales operations.
I ended up migrating them to Salesforce. The migration is a mess because of Close.io’s unconventional way of handling account and lead records, which is unlike any other CMS.
The book is all about the “Sales Stack” ;-) Short but sweet!
Why is it that sales teams are often paid via some sort of commission structure?
If sales person A is working a lot harder/smarter/adaptive to get more clients that sales person B. It may lower his morale to see B get the same compensation as him. This affects sales people more than other functions because the output of a sales person is more or less quantified by the revenue they are responsible for generating (exact metric would be different of course).
I've experienced sales people who oversold more or less everything. They weren't measured on whether or not what they sold could be delivered.
Instead, product teams had to run around as if they were on fire, because suddenly the CEO got involved and made it a "company wide priority".
I hate KPI's / commission structures, and I have never seen it working. Not where the work required more than half a brain cell.
I guess my great hatred for KPI's is that they are often vanity metrics. What you want to measure is net contribution to the bottom line, and that is near well impossible. So we end up measuring what we can, and Goodheart's law  being what it is, get absolutely no value out of it
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law
Bonus info: I've had work, where I did not have KPI's, but where I could destroy the KPI's for other teams, and sometimes involuntarily did.
Certain types of high intensity sales roles lend themselves towards people who are highly motivated by opportunities for incremental commission increases too.
B) I think the assumption is that 100% of salespeople are motivated almost entirely by greed, whereas it's less clear that this is as simple with people in general.
However, I can confidently say that founder driven sales efforts are important even before 'finding' the product market fit and will most likely even help a startup reach product market fit.
Outbound sales is short-term begging for money, period.
I was watching/listening to it from the perspective that the company is generating inbound leads from a marketing team/channel.
However, I will say. The moment you start hiring sales reps and marketing reps, here is what starts to happen:
1) Any leads generated from Youtube or inbound email inquiries or etc are treated as "golden leads" and are typically given to the most politically connected reps
2) These inbound leads happen so infrequently that reps often just sit around waiting with "nothing to do"
3) So then marketing starts thinking about outbound massive email blasts to send out
4) and sales reps start thinking about outbound cold calling campaigns to "follow up on the email we sent you"
5) anddd now you've got 500k of payroll per year engaged in the least productive, most intrustive form of prospecting in the world
6) when you should probably just focus that on making your product and youtube presence so wicked that people bang down your door to buy
Until they're doing this, your product isn't good enough.
Obviously because no one is (would be) selling it and thus no one knows about it.
Now, most of them didn't pay, but I can assure you they were beating down my door for more service and more features and etc.
1) 200 customers, even if everyone paid, is an order of magnitude less than I need to pay my team (we're primarily a research&development company)
2) Our product/service isn't something you buy without a second thought on an e-shop, based on YouTube video or a Reddit post, it's a big, long-term and important investment that will be a powerful factor in the decisions of your company for the next 10 years and the selling process involves a great deal of analysis and customization, and of course internal negotiation and decision making at the customer's side
3) Our product/service isn't something you'd think you need before we offered it to you, and each company has very different needs
4) Everyone we're competing against has powerful sales teams, if we don't do it, everyone will buy from them because they got there first and the cost of switching is way too big
This employer sold a tool that removed crappy data from salesforce databases. It was available for free from competitors, but the company was too proud to release it for freemium-type marketing.
So, they constantly had a revolving door of 30 high school graduates who would be calling literally random people that the IT guy scraped a list off of random sites. The quality of the data was atrociously bad, but the CEO didn't believe it was bad. He instead blamed the interns and the reporting, fired them all, and brought new, "hungrier" ones in and forced them to use an auto dialer.
Out of the 60,000 phone calls this team made, not a single one of them resulted in a sale. The company continues to burn 800k a month in losses.
They have tried to pivot to a Youtube presence, but they only have one guy doing it instead of a full team. Additionally, their product is shit and non-differentiated. So, it's only a matter of time until their Founder, who is worth 150M, decides its time to pull the plug on his terrible, disorganized side-project of a company.
youtube-dl -o '%(playlist)s/%(playlist_index)s - %(title)s.%(ext)s' https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLM4u6XbiXf5rtyzi7g-5O...
On Windows, the single quotes might need to be double quotes. The above uses youtube-dl (YouTube downloader) which is a multi-platform public-domain Python program available here: https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/.