Thursday, August 28, 2008

Every startup needs a Turk Salesman

Salesmen are a different breed altogether; Jayadev used to say - "...folks who can sell Ice to an Eskimo" :). Unfortunately, most technology startups entirely ignore the need for someone in this role.

Techies, especially the startup types, are usually an egoistic bunch - nerds, who scarcely care to see much beyond the 100 lines of code on their PC screens. They think that putting together a software package that can solve some stupendous equation for non-linear-geometric-nth-dimension-extrapolation-of-whatever-crap is the ultimatest thing on the planet. They think - just make the stuff and hordes of buyers will descend on their shop-front to purchase boatloads of it giving bucket-loads of cash - alas! I used to be one of them, almost.

The truth is, when you start, it really does not matter how good your product/ services might be. What matters is how best you can package 'it' and how best you can sell it - and how fast.

The truth is, actually, it is fine even if you DONT exactly have what you're trying to sell as long as you can convince a potential buyer that you have something he wants (Microsoft had sold DOS to IBM even though they never made it/ had it. Do read this BusinessWeek article: The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates).

The truth is, you need a real salesman in your team - and he better be one of the best talkers in town. A litmus test might be to ask such a person the size of his/her linkedIn network and to rattle off the names of 50 influential contacts in rapidfire (Now, if this person is able to convince you and do all this stuff, and you come to know that he does not even have a linkedIn account - hire him!).

Sales people on rocket boosters are guys who can be chief spokesmen - 'Sultans of Spin'. Do watch this funny movie: Thank You For Smoking, to get a taste of the required attitude and aptitude.

Experience has taught me to have immense respect for these folks who sell well. Now, if these guys can sell ice to Eskimos, imagine what they could do if asked to sell 'em hot chocolate!

That brings me to the story of the Turk Salesman. I was led to this story by a reference from Guy Kawasaki's blog. I'd been reading about the art of persuasion and this article titled: What I learned Buying a Rug in Turkey, just about packs in all about it. Well, do read it and if you haven't already - get a Turk salesman in your team - ASAP!

PS: Now I know why they call the program on CNBC - 'Young Turks'.

1 comment:

WhoAmI said...

Sales requires throwing one's ego out of the window before taking the plunge - sounds easy,but its one thing many find difficult to do!