3.03.2006

TIP: Keep your cash flowing

As long as you have sales, cash will flow, and as long as cash flows, Guy Kawasaki blogged, (a) you will have the time to fix your team, your technology, and your marketing; (b) the press won't be able to say much because customers are pouring money into your coffers; and (c) your investors will leave you alone because (i) they will focus on companies with weaker sales and (ii) they won't want to jinx your success.

You can blow all the smoke that you like about brand awareness, corporate image, and feedback from early adopters, but you either make it rain or you don't... here is the art of rainmaking

  • "Let a hundred flowers blossom." ...the dictum (from Chairman Mao) means that you sow seeds in many markets, see what takes root, and harvest what blooms...
  • See the gorilla... Daniel J. Simons of the University of Illinois and Christoper E. Chabris of Harvard University ran an experiment in which they asked students to watch two teams of players throwing basketballs. The students were told to count how many times one team passed the basketball to their own teammates. Thirty-five seconds into the video, an actor dressed as a gorilla entered the room, thumped on his chest, and remained in the room for another nine seconds. Fifty percent of the students did not notice the gorilla! If you want to make it rain, you have to see the gorilla markets in the mist, so to speak. Decades ago Univac was a leader in computers, but it believed that the market for computers was scientists; it did not see that the gorilla market for computers was business people. That's why everyone knows who IBM is and few people remember Univac.
  • "Sell," don't enable "buying." For example, these days an iPod is bought: people walk into the Apple store intending to buy it. By contrast, much to my continued disappointment, a Macintosh is still sold: the hardworking Apple store employee has to convince people that a Macintosh is fast, safe, easy-to-use, and runs the software that they need...
  • Find the key influencers. The higher you go in most organizations, the thinner the air. The thinner the air, the more difficult it is to find intelligent life... don't go after the biggest titles. Instead, go after the key influencers. They have humbler titles like "secretary," "administrative aide," "database administrator," or "customer service manager." They usually do the real work, so they know what products and services are needed, and the CXOs ask them for their recommendations. The logical question is now, "How do you find the key influencers?" The answer is that you ask people at the company to answer this simple question, "When there are problems, who does everyone go to at this organization?"
  • Go after "agnostics," not "atheists." Ahh, the reference account: big, rich, and prestigious. It is the high-hanging fruit that every rainmaker dreams of picking because closing this sale brings credibility to the organization and makes every sale thereafter easier... By definition, reference accounts are already successful, and therefore probably fat, dumb, and happy. They are the least likely to try something new and different. Sure, give them your best shot--once. But then cut your losses and move on to the "agnostics." In the mid-eighties, the atheists denied the Macintosh religion, and they refused to convert to the Mac. The agnostics--people who had never used a personal computer before--were the rich and fertile market for Apple.
  • Make prospects talk. If prospects are open to buying your product or service, they will usually tell you what it will take to close them... Most salespeople can't do this because (a) they're not prepared to ask good questions; (b) they're too stupid to shut up; and (c) they don't know their product or service well enough to know whether it can in fact fill these needs. When it comes to rainmaking, there's clearly a reason why God gave us two ears but only one mouth.
  • Provide a safe, easy first step. Unfortunately, "unsuccessful rainmakers" (an oxymoron?) make it hard for prospective customers to adopt their products or services. I've been guilty of it myself--for example, asking Fortune 500 companies to throw out all their MS-DOS machines in favor of a new IT infrastructure based on Macintoshes. What can I say? I was young then... If your prospects have to jump through loops to adopt your product or service, then your must convince them that doing so is worth the effort.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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