Monthly Archives: May 2008

May 29th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Everything Goes to the Customer

Everything created by marketing for “internal use” will get to the customer or potential customer. Expect it. Write it with that knowledge. Don’t write down secrets and give it to sales. Control the information flow. And, certainly don’t make it look good (a common problem I have). Sales and Support people are well intentioned. But, they are not good at keeping secrets. They’re good at sharing the right information to win the sale. That’s why they’re there after all. And, without sales to fuel the company we all get to find another place to work. So, with this in mind, …

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May 29th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Different is Always Better

Don’t build a product or service that is better, build one that is different. Creating a better mouse-trap won’t attract more mice. Create a different mouse-trap that solves the problem differently. Even if your product is better, talk about how it’s different. Explain the advantages of how your product solves the problem differently and why that is good for your customer. No, Not Better, Different :: Many marketing and sales people seem to focus on why their product is better. This puts the buyer into an immediate mindset of comparison. The buyer will now need to identify and evaluate each …

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May 25th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Small % of a Big Pie

First time founders seem to be obsessed with the percent of the company they own. All want to maintain a large percentage. Because founders think that a large percent is required for control. After all, it’s her baby and she wants be a good over-bearing parent. Unfortunately, building and growing a company requires a team of people and capital resources. Early-on the company only has equity — preferred or common — to give in return for capable people and capital resources. Raising capital requires that some portion of the company be sold. Hiring employees also requires some pool of equity …

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May 25th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Building Competitive Moats in China

Building competitive moats or walled garden around companies in countries without effective intellectual property rights (IPR) is difficult. This is especially true when the business deals with physical goods or services. China has an accurate reputation of being fairly IPR free. Chinese quickly copy anything successful without repercussion. The first question of any new business entering China is: How are you going to overcome copy-cats? Building brand and exclusivity is not just enough. Quick growth and share capture is important. Otherwise, you’ve lost your much of your potential. But, it requires an extra level of thinking (and expense) to really …

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May 23rd, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Password Reset Workflow

Resetting a password on the internet varies greatly. I hate most of the methods. And, many leave a lot of security holes (e.g., plain text emails). There should be more work to standardize this process and perhaps OAuth or OpenID people will make this happen. Until then, we’ll have to deal with many bad workflows with a few good ones. By the way, I think eBay’s password or username reset process is probably the most annoying on the web and as a result I don’t use eBay. Maybe if I used eBay more, I wouldn’t have to reset my password …

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May 17th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Successful Idea Planting

Your own idea often requires planting. Planting an idea is often the most successful way in an ego-energized organization to see it become successful. Planting and idea doesn’t require direct interaction with the person who you want to adopt the idea. There are several influence points that I’ve found successful over the years. And, rarely, does it require going directly to the eventual owner of the idea. As long as you’re willing to put your own ego aside – which is hard for some to do – then you can have many of your ideas successfully stolen or co-opted. This …

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May 17th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Hiring SEs – Technical vs. Relationship

Hiring sales engineers (SEs) can make or break your chances in succeeding in enterprise software sales. Depending on the technical nature and target market of your product, you have two real choices when hiring SEs: (1) Hire domain experts; (2) Hire technical relationship managers. Hiring the former can often be tempting. The argument goes: we’re targeting [ Insert Expertise Here ] (e.g., Exchange, SQL, Linux, Network), so we must hire experienced experts in this domain who can ‘talk the talk and walk the walk.’ This is especially true when you’re a start-up with limited creditability; i.e., you still need to …

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May 15th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Presentations that Suck Less

Presentations mostly suck. People are bad at presenting. And, most people don’t spend time on the visual message. I think any audience is highly influenced by the visual message; often more so than the spoken message. People zone out. People seem to zone out less visually. Or, more importantly, people who zone out from listening, reorientate themselves visually. If your visual message is bad, then the audience re-engagement will be poor. Spend time on Visual Stories :: Creating visual stories is difficult. Thinking of to visualize a spoken argument or concept take time. Often time that we don’t have. But, …

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May 14th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Getting It Right vs. Getting It Done

In the start-up world, you’re always working with limited time and resources. This means that you’re constantly trading off getting something done v.s. getting it right. There are certain things that you have to get right. And, by right, I mean perfect. Typically, these are finishing tasks, not thinking tasks. I think of finishing tasks as making things look really sexy. It’s amazing how much creditability making something ‘look good’ brings to the overall message or objective. The same message poorly illustrated will likely fail. This, of course, depends on your audience and whether or not they’re visual or auditory …

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May 14th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Presentation Iteration Hell

Working on presentations for a picky and particularistic boss or client can be trying. You start out with a basic problem: create a sales deck. You then may have some discussion about what needs to be in the deck; hopefully, its based on what you learned about your audience. Then, you go on your way and start producing the deck. If you head right for powerpoint or keynote, you’re making a mistake. Spending a lot of time making “production quality” slides in the first pass will result in frustrating rework. I recommend that you always spend sometime on the whiteboard …

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