Steve Blank - sales and organization in a startup
Structure, Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Corporate development...There is a spot for everybody in a large company, which is vital for a startup, that the founder is out there to share the experience with the team.
The goal of many founders is to eventually have real structure and employees for issues of any kind. The sales manager should grow sales, the marketing manager projects to the outside and represents the company, corporate development is driven by COO and CFO and so on. However, this strategy would be doomed to fail - hence, the result would be failure. A startup grows with experiences made outside, has the strength and flexibility to react and has generally limited financial resources. Sales distribution must be well trained to sell the product, marketing must understand what the developers created in order to have distribution find the customers and the developers then create what is demanded...So many intersections, so many vulnerabilities. Those who do not react fast enough for future performances will soon be gone.
Overall one needs a customer developing team. However, this does not simply take three, four or five department managers. Required is someone who is the perfect interface and has the knowledge concerning the product, the development, the team and all resources a startup has. The founder is the perfect distributor, since he steps outside. We at alugha understand what functions we want in our player, we are film makers, we are translators and we are dubbers…but is this what our customers want? We indeed have been wrong in the past and were surprised to why this amazing feature was not a absolute necessity or even why euphoria did not break out. We spent weeks, more so months, to implement this to then realize that we are the ones who found it amazing. Only when we (in this case me as the CEO) are close to the customer and deeply involved in the many different departments, I can then minimize the risk to a minimum.
Another whole different problem is the work method and surroundings. A sales manager at SAP for example has his distributors that he tutors and supports. They receive their objectives and the necessary material from marketing, their list of customers and off they go. A sales manager is familiar with distribution and knows how to build structure and a team, how to support sales measures and how to raise awareness in the marketing team. Very seldomly does he know the whole company structure or how everything goes hand in hand, who does what and how the software functions. He does not have to since he is not directly in contact with the customer. A distribution manager in a startup does not need many associates (if he even needs them) as he himself will be dealing with the customers. These are the traits he must have. And who could be better at this than the founder of a startup??
There will come a time where have to give up tasks and build up a replacement for these duties, but the point of time is key.
Note: It was your idea that you put thought into, it is your concept, your philosophy, your euphoria that sparks the flame with the customer. Use this and do not rest upon others. You are the pilot and you will never start with engaging the autopilot...only when you have reached your safe altitude.
This article is written by our CEO, Bernd Korz. With his experience as an entrepreneur, he shares his vision about the lessons provided by Steve Blank. Join us every week for a new article on Steve Blank’s lectures.
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