Both Sides of the Table

One of the questions I’m most often asked by CEOs is how to hire sales people.

I’ve written a lot about recruiting and hiring at startups including my controversial post on whom not to hire and my rapid response to the flame war.  I’ve also written extensively on sales and onwhich sales execs to hire and how to think about the different kinds of sales leaders.

One of the questions I used to ask in any recruiting meeting for a senior hire or even a junior sales rep is as follows:

“When you run sales campaigns do you prefer to 

A. Call high, and get passed down or;
B. Call low, get a pilot project with data running internally, and then present the findings to a senior executive”

Of course there’s no “right” answer but I’d like to persuade you that “calling high” will help you greatly shorten sales cycles and help you avoid wasting a lot of time on sales efforts that are not likely to close in the first place.

If you don’t have a good sales methodology already in place in your organization you might try reading that last link.

Call High

Calling high means reaching the highest level appropriate person in an organization that you can reach to hear your pitch. In a small to mid-sized organization this is likely the CEO or perhaps a COO or SVP. Clearly in an enterprise customer this is unlikely.

The senior person you meet is unlikely to be the person actually making the decision. They are likely somebody who would hear about the purchase but may or may not weigh in on the decision.

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Recently I wrote the first post in a series on board meetings, entitled, “Why You’re Not Getting the Most out of Your Board,” which focused on the need to prepare properly, set good objectives and discuss mostly strategic topics.

Even if you follow this game plan meticulously your board meeting can be taken off course by well-intentioned board members who lead you down a rate hole.

Here’s how it happens …


1. Topic Creep

You start out your board meeting and a well-meaning board member who read your deck noticed a detail she didn’t understand on page 18, “Bob, I noticed that your margins in Canada declined from 48% to 46% while your margin in Mexico is up by 4%. Can you please explain the discrepancy?”

I call this “topic creep” and it is killing your board meeting. It might be useful for Sally to know the answer to this but it isn’t the most valuable use of the time you spend together as a board.

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I’m super proud to announce that DataSift has just completed a $42 million financing round coming at the end of a year where its revenue grew several hundred percent year-over-year. Considering our revenue is SaaS revenue this achievement is even more remarkable.

The timing of the announcement of this investment couldn’t have been timed more perfectly if we tried. Yesterday it was announced that Apple had acquired one of our competitors, Topsy, for more than $200 million. As this astute journalist pointed out, DataSift “likely would have cost a lot more to acquire.”

What gives? Why all the fuss about the Twitter firehose?

I started announcing 

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2013 has proved to be a wild year. Companies being created has continued to go up dramatically making managing dealflow nearly impossible.

Thank you to Tasha for helping to keep me sane by managing the onslaught of meeting requests, board meetings and constant change. You’ve had a few difficult years outside of work – I feel confident 2014 is going to be a great one!

In the market we’ve seen the massive uptick of SaaS valuations in the public markets and commensurate attention on private market fundings and valuations.

Meanwhile while social networking was white hot 3 years ago it is now persona non grata unless your user numbers are insane.

eCommerce was battered this year.

Some Ad Tech has skyrockets some has suffered. Mixed bag.

2013 was the year of wearable devices and physical products.

I’m sure in 2-3 years all of these trends will be reversed.

So with the wild ride of 2013 I had thoughts about what made me thankful this year.

We’ve had some big breakouts, some unexpected slips and some continued struggles.

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It’s stunning to me how quickly we take for granted certain conveniences in our lives that go from Eureka to minimum expectation.

Take OpenTable.

In the old days we used to call a restaurant to book. The hostess worked from 4-10pm so you had to call during these hours. Between 7-10 she was busy seating guests so had to put your on hold. After hours there was the answering machine. She entered you reservation by writing in a time slot in a paper calendar and you were in. As long as they didn’t lose the book or make a mistake.

It sounds crazy, right? Of course you now book when you want and even choose your restaurant based on availability at the time / day you want and you can book on your mobile phone at 2am or 8pm.

Yet for everything else we’re still in the dark ages and people have accepted that.

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