In our previous articles on building a house of business, we’ve covered the vision and the plans. Now we begin the dirty work! It’s dirty work because this is where we put the shovels into the ground and start digging the hole for the foundation.
We’ve often seen, either with inexperienced businesspeople or, unfortunately, with venture capitalists, the demand for instant results. Much of the time, though, it just doesn’t work that way. An example can be found in the pharmaceutical industry, where a drug trial and development can take decades before it ever sees the light of day.
Another classic example is a gold mine. Let’s say you’ve got the money to develop it (and it takes a lot of money to operate a gold mine). You can stand outside that tunnel being slowly dug all you want and scream, “Hey! Where’s my gold?” But it might be a year before you bring up real ore, get it trucked away and smelted. And then you’ll see some gold.
We can even compare these beginning stages to ourselves. For a human being, From the very beginning, you must nurture, love and care for the child. Then it’s 3 or 4 years before you can begin to teach a child even the most simple tasks. Then it’s many steps before you’re teaching the child advanced mathematics.
For business or for a building, there are many stages of activity that must occur before you see that light at the end of the tunnel and hope it’s not an oncoming train. It doesn’t matter how many people are screaming for globalization, cash flow, and liquidity—it’s not going to happen until the business is up and running and then truly stable.
The Right People
In building a house, or in starting a business, you must carefully choose the people who are going to dig that foundation or operate your business. If you’re going to have a stable building, or. stable enterprise, these people must be very experienced. If not, you’re in danger of your building collapsing or your business in ruins. And as we’ve seen, this happens often.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to start with one team and they’ll remain forever. Just watch a house being built—how many different people and teams are coming and going? No matter how many different people there are, the only criteria you really need to pay attention to is the quality of their work.
One reason that so many companies fail is that they often begin with inexperienced people. They may be enthusiastic, but without experience, that enthusiasm can lead to chaos.
At Pipeliner, we made very sure to begin the company with the most experienced people we could find. We also had fluctuation, as any company would, but in a large part, we have been very stable. Without that experience and that stability, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
The Sales Team
This philosophy should even be applied to a sales team. Unfortunately, salespeople can tend to think that learning a new product or company is simple. But today, that’s not so true. With the complexity of technology, with the limitations of time and with the added barrier of not actually seeing your prospects, knowledge, and experience are needed more than ever before.
One factor that has radically changed, especially in the SaaS industry, is that today your prospect company’s buying decision will often not be made by a single person, but by a team. This is shown in the latest report from SiriusDecisions, The State of (Sales) Enablement. The report shows that nearly all B2B buying decisions for larger purchases are made by committee or agreement amongst a number of executives. Buying by consensus has increased from 35% to 38% in the last two years, and by committee from 24% to 28%. Independent buying decisions have decreased, in the same time period, from 41% to 34%.
This means a salesperson must be experienced in dealing with multiple decision-makers as opposed to a single decision-maker buyer.
This is especially true in our industry, CRM. A CRM solution is not just used by one person, but by many across several departments of a company. A CRM salesperson must absolutely be skilled in communicating with a committee or multiple decision-makers.
Given all of the above, you have to ask yourself: do you need salespeople with less experience or more? The answer is obvious. The buyer now is a committee, is far more informed. A salesperson must also be even more informed because they’re making one sale to a group of people, each with diverse skills and possibly diverse requisites in a service or product.
When you have a competent, experienced team, the next thing is, you need to tell them what to do. That “telling” is guidance, and for a business, it comes in the form of clear policy.
It’s interesting that often when you ask someone why they want to work in an up-and-coming company, they answer, “Oh, it’s more flexible! It doesn’t have all the rules that a big company has! I have space to ‘do my thing!’”
Having a “loose and floppy” approach to running a business, in my opinion, is totally wrong. Clear guiding policy is even more important at the beginning of an enterprise. Going back to our comparison to building a house, instructions right at the beginning are vital. For example, for many areas of the world, you can’t build a house in just any season. You must instruct them when to build it, and it must be finished on time. If not, the project will go right off the rails and added costs will mount very quickly.
So, especially when resources are limited, both with business and with a house, having a clear guiding policy that is implemented can mean that the project or the business can stay within a limited budget.
Given the state of business and the skill level needed by people being hired, you can see that the business world is becoming more complex.
Again we can return to the analogy of building a house. Houses have been built for thousands of years but were never as complex as they are today. Homes enabled with smart technology are becoming increasingly common. They have complex security systems, intricate climate control systems, and much more.
We can also look at cars, as another example. 75 years ago, you could open the hood of a car and pretty much figure out the engine. I myself was able to make minor repairs on my first car. Today, I couldn’t even touch it! It’s electronic from beginning to end. It takes an expert mechanic.
To sum up, today when you are building a company, you need skilled, experienced, intelligent people. When you have such people, you need to provide them with clear guidance and policies. Without these factors, your resources will be quickly burned up with no results.
We all have experienced the good and the bad with regard to these factors. But we can learn from our mistakes. That’s why I’m writing this series of articles—so that you don’t make the same mistakes I have made. I hope they help!