Sharon Drew Morgen is a contrarian voice in the sales universe. She was perhaps among the first to point out that the sales process which has not changed (while everything around business has ) over the past 100 years need some relooking. Why should a 5% close rate be acceptable for companies?
Undoubtedly our life is a sum total of the decisions we make. In the exact same place with exact same inputs two human beings make two completely different decisions. One turns out to be more right than the other. Charlie Munger, part of the Buffet Munger duo, extolled the power of identifying and applying mental models across disciplines in his 1995 speech, ‘The Psychology of Human Misjudgement’.
Bessemer Venture Partners released their State of the Cloud 2019 report at Saastr 2019 and it was a lot of good news. While a decade ago there were no private Cloud Unicorns, there are 55 today. Add the 44 that are public, there are in total 99 Unicorns in the Cloud ecosystem.
David Cummings on Startups is one of the most readable columns and I love his insights. In a recent post he writes about the need to challenge inertia. In other words this resonates with disruption. Sometimes status quo becomes the norm and there are lores of how Kodak sat on the Digital photography technology for over 3 decades because they believed that they were in the chemicals industry and not of memories. Sometimes entire industries are in denial – like, you guessed it – the music industry – which fought back Napster. A lot of it is still visible in the book industry that still doesn’t allow or have figured a way to allow the owner of a copy of a Digital book to be shared or loaned. The traditional license model of softwares, remember? I wonder what they are thinking about these days? Oh wait they have actually moved to a more sustainable Cloud/SaaS model where they cannot force customers to upgrade. Remember the backlash on Apple when users figured they are deliberately slowing down the phones through updates in OS? The same old Microsoft / Intel combination all over again.
Peter Drucker, the original management thinker came up with the idea of Management by Objectives popularly known as MBO in the 1950’s. It seems Andy Grove adapted the basic tenets of MBO to create his OKR approach, inspired by Drucker’s The Practice of Management.
Andy Raskin, the Guru of storytelling in the business context has written some of the most educative articles on the subject. I have had the opportunity in experiencing his presentation of “The Promised Land” narrative at the Drift Hypergrowth Conference at SFO last September. On the back of his Greatest Sales Deck article, where he exemplified the Zuorapitch deck, he wrote how it is critical to get buy in from the sales team before the narrative can be taken public. Never assume it is the lone job of the founder or the top management team to take the brand story to the market.
In his latest letter to shareholders Jeff Bezos spoke about the essential DNA that drives the growth of Amazon. Key amongst them is the power of wandering. That was in my mind and led me to the wonder about the power of laziness with relation to work. The counter view to what we call laziness could be getting more done in a given timeframe, reducing low value work from your schedule or simply prioritizing life over work.
Tom Tunguz wrote an insightful piece analyzing the recent Slack S1 filings and comparing it with its cohort including Zoom in particular which also had a stellar debut couple of weeks back.7 key metrics put Slack in a comfortable position poised for spectacular growth. The only data missing, though tangential but relevant is how much each company raised unto the point of IPO. In case of Slack it was $1.2Bn while Zoom raised $145Mn (source CrunchBase, link below).
Like most entrepreneurs who are exposed to the thoughts of Steve Blank, Alexander Osterwalder and the lean movement you see the value of building your Business Model Canvas. Simple as it may sound, plan-on-a-page, it shows only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actually pulling off on the actions you list. The core of the idea is validation of assumptions as quickly and as definitively as you can. Earlier this month I wrote about asking the right questions to yourself about your business and your plan.
Ever wonder why Hubspot gives away most of their software for free? Their CRM, Sales Automation, Calendar applications are all available for users without charge. Joel Spolsky, Founder of Stack Overflow, identified what would be recognized as a major pattern in technology business in his post ‘Strategy letter V’ (in June 2012) – “companies seek to secure a chokepoint or quasi-monopoly in products composed of many necessary & sufficient layers by dominating one layer while fostering so much competition in another layer above or below its layer that no competing monopolist can emerge, prices are driven down to marginal costs elsewhere in the stack, total price drops & increases demand, and the majority of the consumer surplus of the final product can be diverted to the quasi-monopolist.”