Author Archives: dmerritts

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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April 8th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

HALTS

Know when to walk away. Developing and abiding by a system for negotiations is critical to getting what you want. This entry will only address a small portion of the overall negotiations system required. However, when negotiating you must be able to walk-away and take a break. Remember, the following nemonic is great for helping you remember when to halt the proceedings and take a break. Stop if anyone is: Hungry Angry Lonely Tired Sick Get back together and continue only after you believe your side and the other side of the negotiation are no longer in a HALTS state. …

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April 7th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Constant Discomfort

Humans are constantly uncomfortable. We are always hungry, thirsty, physically tired, angry, sad, or disinterested. As a result, humans are always working to be come more comfortable. Comfort can come from positive thoughts or focused optimism. Often, optimism or a positive attitude is able to over come common discomfort. Most people are able transcend common discomfort based on their perspective. Momentary discomfort can be set aside as one looks to their greater role or purpose. Many would argue that this is a pessimist’s view of human nature. However, at the end of the day, humans are working up Maslow’s hierarchy …

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April 5th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Why are most coffee shop design plans so poor?

Nearly every coffee shop I enter in the world has a few fundamental design flaws. Most coffee shops have figured out the comfortable chairs, free wifi, and tables. However, most still have not mastered the space efficient laptop work environment. I think the best coffee shop layout are the ones that cater to laptop users. When you’re designing a coffee shop you must consider the different users (personas) and then correlate the user type to potential revenue per user type. When I think about coffee shops, I think of the following user types and average revenue per visit (not empirically …

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April 5th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Buying into a Franchise

Franchises can be a an ready-made solution for many budding entrepreneurs. Buying into a franchise requires different levels of capital, but ultimately can lead to very healthy returns depending on the franchise type. Recently, the WSJ published a ranking of the most successful franchises in the US. The one that surprised me most was two men and a truck. The marketing behind this company makes it appear as though its just a few people and a truck, implying little loyalty and likely a fly-by-night organization. That’s my perception, at least. But, in reality, they have the highest customer satisfaction rating …

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April 1st, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Blue Ducks: Writing to be Read

Product managers are always asked to write everything down. Some documents are read (e.g., requirements, specifications, whitepapers, etc.), most are not (e.g., demo scripts, strategy documents, processes). Certain large organizations seem to thrive on documentation. One’s productivity equates to the number of documents created. The more you create, the more productive you appear and the happier your boss is. And, consequently, the less is ultimately read. As a result, it’s fairly difficult to discern what should be read, skimmed or ignored. Granted, people learn through different mediums. So, a combination of communication techniques is always required. But, often writing and …

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