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As CEO of my startup, I sometimes have to be in sales mode. (Well, every owner of a company is always in some sort of sales mode, but in this case I mean prospecting for customers of new product offerings).
I recently wrote about what it takes to create an effective sales team. But here I just want to share one pro-tip, and see if I can find a few other interested people to beta-test a new tool with me.
We have a new product that we're piloting, and so I'm in sales mode for a bit testing the waters. I always like to do the initial sales myself, so I can tweak it and figure out what's working and what's not, before I pass it over to a sales team. Plus, hearing the inevitable "no's" from prospects is a great way to get honest feedback about the product so we can iterate on it quickly.
As part of this, I'm sending targeted emails out to CMOs of large brands. I have a very specific methodology I follow to find the CMOs I believe will be most likely to have interest in our product. And I always start at the top of an organization -- even if the CMO isn't the one making the direct buying decision, they almost always control the P&L, and if the CMO sends an email to a direct report to check something out, then it's much more likely to be followed up on (and quickly) than if I targeted that person directly. To learn more about this sales philosophy, read this blog post I wrote many years ago about selling effectively.
If you haven't seen the hilarious viral honey badger youtube video, check it out before you read this.
I just read this awesome passage from TheNextWeb from Jeff Bezos when he was starting Amazon:
“I’ve been optimistic about Amazon since the early days,” says Bezos. “I was most pessimistic literally at the very beginning. It took sixty meetings to raise a million dollars, which I needed to get the company started. Twenty two people providing around $50,000 each, on average, to get me that million dollars. That was the riskiest time for Amazon, that’s when the whole thing may never have happened. Raising that money was very, very difficult.”
Reminds me of the nastyass honey badger.
I just ordered Advil and yogurt for our office using Instacart, an incredibly awesome new service that delivers groceries to your door in under three hours.
Instacart has been in the news a lot lately, and is billing itself as 'Amazon for groceries with 3 hour delivery'. The great thing is that it actually works.
I knew I was going to be sitting down with Instacart's CEO Apoorva Mehta, so I placed an Instacart order before-hand (something Apoorva says happens to him all the time, especially at VC pitches). And viola, fifty minutes later Liz showed up with my Advil and yogurt order. Watch the video above to see it in action.
Instacart is currently only live in San Francisco and the South Bay area but Apoorva hopes to expand into other markets in the coming year.
three wifi flight passes for $6.50 each
Buy three (or more) flight pass codes for $6.50 each, and sell them for more to passengers on the flight.
I like little exercises like this (like when I hacked a Vegas cab line), because being a salesperson is uncomfortable. Creating value can be a scary, anxiety ridden process. You have to talk to people you don't know, who aren't expecting to talk to you, and often whose first reaction isn't welcoming. You have to overcome all these obstacles and get them to see the value you're bringing.
That's why while making $20 off a couple of passes isn't a material amount of money, it's very material in the skills you need to use and hone to sell other, more expensive services or goods.
I'm here at Google Ventures in Mountain View, CA where Bambi Francisco is interviewing Aaron, the CTO of LivingSocial. Aaron is discussing shipping product at massive scale, JSIO (watch the video to learn what it means) and what it's like to move from DC to SF, where he's now spinning up a team. Coincidentally, since LivingSocial is based in DC, I also wrote a post & video of the CEO Tim two years ago when I was still in DC.
Here also is a video I took of Balaji, the CEO of DabKick, a company that had a table at the Vator event. Their very cool photo sharing app is available to try now. Here's a video:
Here in San Francisco, almost everyone I know has iPhones. But there are a whole lotta people somewhere in the world with Android devices.
According to this article from ExtremeTech, Android shipments are up from 700,000 total in 2008, to 550,000,000 in 2012. Yes, five hundred and fifty million devices shipped worldwide running Android, with 136 million in Q3 2012 alone.
With Blackberry's penetration cut in half, and Symbian's even worse, it's now a two horse race between Android and iOS . And although in the Valley all you hear about is the iPhone, and everyone's building apps for the iPhone, a peek beyond to the rest of the world showcases the dominance of Android worldwide .
In fact, if you'd like to experience just how easy it is, you can buy Sam a beer to see how he's integrated Helium into his personal blog.
PS Sam, you owe me a beer. :)
Larry Wachowski is now Lana Wachowski. She -- previously "he" -- is one of the directors of The Matrix trilogy and Cloud Atlas.
I've always been pro equal rights for everyone, but this video by Lana got me to take a step further, and donate $50 to the Human Rights Campaign. It's a very moving speech about how Lana never felt like she quite fit in growing up, and why she's now speaking publicly about it.
Thanks, Lana, for spurring me to take action in a cause I believe in.
It seems that politicians these days can't rally to take action on even the smallest decisions, so it's easy to forget about the bold leaders of our past.
But I saw something awesome today in Michael Porath's Manifest Destiny project.
In 1803, Thomas Jefferson executed the Louisiana Purchase. We all learned about it in school. But what's incredible -- and what I didn't learn in school -- is that the size of the land purchased was unknown at the time it was bought.
So, think about that for a second the next time you hear politicians bickering over immaterial issues. Thomas Jefferson paid $15MM in 1803 for a body of land that he had no idea the size of. Now that takes brass cojones and it's a great reminder to follow your gut, because what he was really buying was the removal of French influence in the region, and he knew that alone justified the purchase price.
The CEO of a mobile gaming app just sent me the email above. It's genius.
Up to 1,000 options for beta testing his app.
Now that's a way to crowdsource your bug and beta testing!
If you're an iOS user who likes playing games and you'd like to request an invite to get these options too, please post in the comments below and I'll make an intro. (Make sure you've set your profile up correctly, as I'll message you privately).