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Mark LaRosa

No celebrating until the deal is signed

In sales, its very easy to start celebrating the minute a deal is closed. In fact, celebration often starts once the verbal commitment is given. But, if there is one thing that experience in sales will teach you, is that you really can’t celebrate until the contract is signed – and furthermore – you really can’t celebrate until the cash is in the bank.

The Sales One-Liner

Over the past several months as I’ve been working with more and more start-ups, I’ve had to critique a lot of sales people on their style and offer suggestions about how to do it better.  And, in giving the pitches myself, allow those salespeople to critique my own sales style and determine whether they buy into my style or not.  All of this done, of course, to figure out ways to close more deals and crush quota.

Do the right thing… the sales will follow

With a company named QuotaCrush, you would think that my opinion is that salespeople and sales managers should be singularly focused on quota.  In fact, that is completely counter to by entire belief system in terms of the best way to accelerate sales.

Act now! Q1 is ending.

I shouldn’t be writing, and you shouldn’t be reading, this post.

Why?  Its the end of the quarter, and if you are in sales, and if you are awake, you should be working on how to use the end of the quarter to get as many deals closed as possible.

This week is a key week to call all of your stalled deals and wake them up with an offer.  This is the time to grab your April and May deals, and see about moving them into Q1.  This is the week to make sure the deals that you are counting on for Q1 – actually happen.

Weekly Pipeline Calls

I’ve been asked by a few clients recently about the value (or lack thereof) of weekly pipeline calls.   I think that this depends entirely on the way in which the meeting is conducted, and the intended purpose of the meeting.

When I started my first company, I had no formal sales training, so my sales were haphazard, my tracking was minimal, and my team was tiny.  While we had ad-hoc meetings about different clients, there was no structured weekly meeting.  Sales certainly got done, and the entire team was often involved, but we didn’t have anything formal – and in many ways this was how we wanted to work.  It was a free form, make it happen approach.

WSJ: Entrepreneurs Can Lead Us Out Of Crisis

There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal today on something that I’ve been arguing lately.  That the only way out of the financial crisis is through entrepreneurs.

Missing from this legislation [the stimulus bill] is anything more than token support for the long-proven source of most new jobs and new growth in America: entrepreneurs. These are the people who gave us everything — from Wal-Mart to iPhones, from microprocessors to Twitter — that is still strong in our economy. Without entrepreneurs, we will never get out of our current predicament.

If I… Will you?

Whenever someone asks me about a particular negotiation point or tactic, I always tell them to remember the following phrase and to use it in every negotiation:

“If I…. will you ….”

For example,

“If I drop the set-up fee, will you be able to sign this week?”
“If I can get my boss to agree to the price reduction, will you agree to extend your contract from 12 months to 18 months?”
“If I commit to adding this feature in a future release, will you allow us to use your logo on our website.”

Top 10 tips for getting past a gate-keeper

Lauren Gilchrist of Urgent Careers, wrote a guest post on UrgentSpeed, Jeff Stewart’s blog, about a lively discussion that went on at last nite’s Sales 101 event about the Top 10 ways to get past a gate-keeper.

If you cold-call, this is a must read. There are a lot of really great tips in there. My favorite is #2, “Treat the assistant like a human-being.” In my own personal experience, I have gotten the furthest in sales by just doing the right thing, and treating people with respect.

Here are the 10 tips she lists. Click HERE to see the full description.

Sales 101 for Start-ups

Jeff Stewart, the CEO of UrgentCareers, and I gave a seminar last nite in Manhattan on the topic of Sales 101: How to jump-start sales in your start-up. It was a very interactive discussion, and I hope that everyone attending benefitted from the presentation.

I think the most valuable point that was discussed was Jeff’s comment that since now technology has gotten so much cheaper to deploy, by significant orders of magnitude, your biggest expense is your sales team – and making mistakes here is your biggest drain on capital.

Many people asked for the slide deck so I’m attaching it below.

Where are the sales classes in business school?

I didn’t go to business school. I decided to start my own company right after college – just jumping in and figuring it out as I went along. I’m not sure that I would recommend this model to most people. I think I was too naive to know the risks that were ahead of me – but I think it was the right move for me. What’s is interesting is that as I started and grew my company I didn’t struggle with the concepts of valuation, or financing, or competition, or management or marketing, or any of these topics. What was the hardest thing to learn to do?

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