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So Bored,

can we now assume that the dry spell has ended and you are looking forward going to work every day with smile on your face?


============================
Well, my initial challenge with the "abandoned project" client has passed, and I have an assurance of getting paid just as the sun rises... God, I feel like a loan shark sans the baseball bat...

public static void main
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Well, I'm going to "work" in the spare bedroom. So yes.

The triage project I've been describing is very small potatoes and required a disproportionate amount of effort to negotiate. Another project coming online in a few weeks is a payroll and production data system for a manufacturing company which is a bigger deal.

What I've found with both of these deals is that I am a much better negotiator and deal closer than I am a promoter or sales type. My sales and marketing skills suck but I really seem to know what to do to handle new business "when" it arrives.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

You're too modest Bored. You got the jobs! That's marketing.


Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Thanks!

... my point was that getting noticed by clients in the first place is much harder for me than dealing with the business, proposal and tech aspects once they know about me. Sometimes, clients "just" fall into my lap. And when they do I have something to work with. When they don't, business sucks.

Once I get that initial issue of marketing solved so that "falling into my lap" feels reproducible, I'll feel much more secure.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bored, I'm a little curious since I've never done consulting, but how do you typically get in touch with clients? Or how do they find you? I'm not in a position to do any consulting right now, but I've wondered how this works.

sid
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Myself and my partner have recently been working with some branding / marketing consultants to help us pitch better. We're going through it at the moment and it looks like it will be very helpful.

We're basically not very good at selling ourselves. Like you say, we can negotiate and close fairly well but we can't get far enough to do that. And we're not very good at extending the work beyond the initial requirements.

For example we did a small project for a certain international well known company which went very well, but didn't then follow up well enough to get ourselves any immediate future work. We'll get some in the future, sure, but if we had suggested how to proceed in a better way we'd have got more.

James U-S
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

==>What I've found with both of these deals is that I am a much better negotiator and deal closer than I am a promoter or sales type. My sales and marketing skills suck but I really seem to know what to do to handle new business "when" it arrives.

Bored, long time no see <grin> -- we'll have to talk offline. I think I still owe you a look-see at some collateral material you sent me a link to a few months back.

Anyway, you know our history. We're in much the same boat. Put us in front of the decision makers at the client and the deal is closed. The hard part is getting there.

After the bust/melt-down/recession/<whatever>, we've pretty much been stuck in a rut -- on sort of a platteau, neither uphill nor downhill. For 3+ years we really haven't grown. Not that it's all that bad, in this economy we all should be fairly satisfied just to stay employed full time. Problem is, we're not satisfied with that. I feel like I've been spinning my wheels for three years with no personal or professional growth. Mid-life crisis, I guess (any shrinks out there ?<grin>).

Anyway, after a long hard look at our business, and the personalities/skills of those involved (6 of us), we slowly came to the conclusion that we do *not* have what it takes from a sales/marketing point of view. We've been lucky thus far, through referrals, that previous clients have done our sales/marketing work for us and have not really had to make an effort to keep going. But to keep going, status quo, is not really where we want to be.

We want to grow.

So, last month, we bit the bullet and hired full-time sales/marketing staff. We ran the numbers and under most of our scenarios, it's a winning deal. After a month, it's already working. Contracts are being negotiated, the "pipeline" is full -- business we normally wouldn't have had is coming in.

Until you've seen it in action, you really don't realize the sheer cajones these sales folks have. I know I couldn't do it. They're fearless -- anything goes. Rejection (the part most of us loathe) is nothing to these folks. It's part of the job. The old "WineAndDineTheProspect" routine -- something I *hate* -- schmoozing and schlepping for new business -- it, well, it disgusts me personally and I can't stand doing it. These guys live and breathe this crap. It's what they do.

At some point, we've all got to decide what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. We took some time out and decided we're going to grow, but we don't have the skills (sales/marketing) to do it. We hired those skills. Now we have full-time, in-house, dedicated technical sales skills.
It's working according to plan. It's nice to offload those things that we all hate to do, and give them to someone who actually enjoys doing them.

==>Once I get that initial issue of marketing solved so that "falling into my lap" feels reproducible, I'll feel much more secure.

We solved it by hiring it. I don't know how we would have solved it otherwise. Honestly, our tech staff is just that: tech staff. We can't really ask them to do sales/marketing as (a) most wouldn't -- like me, they hate it, and (b) even if they would do it, the suckage factor would be pretty darned high. They're good at writing code, not schmoozing new prospects.

Let us know when you find out how to make it reproducible. We couldn't figure it out so we bit the bullet and hired it instead.

As an aside, I somehow feel that we're more a RealBusiness(tm) now that we've got sales staff. Before, it felt more like a loose association of techies, each doing our own thing. The sales effort has really brought us all closer to a common goal and we're working together more. I like it. It's a GoodThing(tm)

Sgt. Sausage
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Contratulations GB (Oops I mean BB)!

Glad to hear that your hard work is paying off.
I am still working through borks and dorks but eventually want to become 'true independent'.
Seeing somebody inteligent and hardworking struggle with the marketing part was a bit discouraging - so I am now really glad that you are doing better.

public static void main
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fulltime "staff" implying more than one?  Just out of curiousity, what do you pay these people?  You can afford this overhead?

Blah
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

prefer main to return int.  Lets the OS know what the result was.

hoser
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

==>Fulltime "staff" implying more than one?  Just out of curiousity, what do you pay these people?  You can afford this overhead?

Fulltime "staff" meaning: One now. More as needed. It sounded better than a "fulltime guy". <grin>

Our current model will support a single full time sales person for every 4 developers. That is to say, If the "sales guy" keeps 4 folks busy (under our assumptions of "busy" (30 hrs billable per week)), then he pays for himself. Any more is gravy. We've been keeping ourselves more than that busy without sales staff for the last 6 years.

As far as pay: It's straight sallary, with a gradual transition to commission over the next 18 months. The sallary is $58K (US) and the sky's the limit. Once on commission only, he can make as much or as little as he wants. With our benefits package, we're looking at a total outlay near $70K over a year and a half. In the greater scheme of things, this doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

As far as the affordability: Yes. We've "run the numbers" a bazillion ways. If he doesn't pay off (profit), we go back to the way we were before. It's really as simple as that.

We've been in business for close to 7 years now. We know what we're doing with respect to dedicating resources ($$$) toward a particular goal (increased sales ==> increased profit). This is not something we did on the spur of the moment.

Sgt. Sausage
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

he comes from a very c sharp background, and that is a default there. maybe.


Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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