Quick & Dirty!?

New York, 30th August 2008

Quick & Dirty

In my long career as a sales manager, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of a major venture fund, I have been confronted hundreds of times with people that struglle to find the right balance between direct results and expectations.

In Sales – you have to deal with budgets on the one hand and set targets on the other. From a management perspective, you are always trying to push your sales people that little bit further then really needed to achieve the forecast results. Sales People are always trying to forecast a little less so they can carry forward some big deals and overchieve their targets and earn major commissions (so called sandbagging) – it is an annual game between sales and management. These two complement each other and can be accounted for and as such I would describe this as the ideal scenario. The daily reality however is that you always have to deal with underperforming sales people. I have seen too many of those – trying to camouflage incompetence with impressive pipelines and talking endlessly about one or two major contracts that somehow never shape up and close. As the responsible manager, these are the red flags to look out for. Always check those prospects yourself and visit them – to make sure they are real.

A similar situation can occur when business people start a new business or company. You see them delaying execution and hiding behind all manner of market research and other "preparatory" work – all in order to postpone the moment where you have to show real results. Too many times people with responsibility look too far into a supposedly fabulous future and forget about actions that need to be taken today and in the long term it is precisely this that makes them fail. I call this "Dying in Beauty".

As a business person or entrepreneur, you have to find the perfect balance between now and the future – if you look only to that shiny future – you will never survive. Find small contracts now, whilst you work diligently on achieving the major ones. When you need money from investors – they will look at your current revenue and cash flow. It is very hard to defend only your expectations for richness in the future – however great it will be. Most of the time – it is better to have the "quick & dirty" results then dying in beauty.