But the “no sales people” mantra isn’t what I’m here to take on. It’s the second belief system that is even more engrained and even more wrong. Many young startups are being advised not to have a professional services business and in my opinion this is a big mistake.

One of the Biggest Mistakes Enterprise Startups Make” by Mark Suster.

When I first joined Microsoft ten years ago and started to build software in the Office group, I spent some time learning about how we actually sold the software to enterprise customers. I setup some coffees with “Field Sales Managers”, “Technical Account Managers”, and even got to listen in on a few sales calls with big enterprise customers.

My eyes couldn’t have been opened wider; the complexity of sales channels, SKU’s, and VAR’s made me quickly realize and appreciate the importance of a dedicated sales group. At the same time, I was concerned by how far removed I was as engineer from the actual customer – how do you balance out the complexity of selling to various, complex customers while not slowing down development?

Thankfully Office has a long history of rich and consistent interactions with its big customers. One of my favorite activities was participating in an internal conference each year where some of our biggest enterprise customers came to Microsoft campus for a few days. It was part networking event and part product demo fair, with the goal of getting critical feedback from our customers about what we were building in Office while we were still coding. It was incredibly helpful as an engineer to learn about the unique technology challenges they faced inside their companies (i.e. amazingly complex deployment topologies, geopolitical issues that dictated purchasing policy, governmental regulations, etc.).

I learned quickly that building and selling products to enterprise customers was complex, but more importantly that the best enterprise products are developed via great relationships between the product team and the individuals that will use it.


…In New York, at least, Craigslist went from being the centralized clearing house for everything to, well, a shitty alternative to other apartment rental and classified goods sites. And where New York goes, the rest of the world usually follows.


Back in Seattle we used Craiglists for everything, but I’ve personally had a harder time selling things on it since we’ve moved to NYC. As surprised as I was to see them on this list, it does make me stop and question how they’re going to fare given how many new players are entering the sharing/selling market.


Having recently switched fully to Android and the Google stack (G-Apps, Gmail, etc.), I’m impressed by helpfulness of some of the recommendations and suggestions coming out of Google Now. Judging by the amount of “prep” work I do for my day (which is, admittedly, a function of how much I enjoy organizing things), I think the PDA space is going to revolutionize individual productivity.

Google Wants To Build The Ultimate Personal Assistant | TechCrunch


Many of our sales reps who cam from the enterprise software industry were accustomed to offering a discount. The discount had become their closing strategy when they had to make their targets. I didn’t think we needed that motivator, and I believed that our service was fairly priced. Discounts, I thought, were tied to perceived risk. Offering deals would compromise the service’s value.

Marc Benioff, “Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry”