Archive for June, 2011

Finally some golf…..

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Golf today. My birthday tomorrow. Friends over on Sunday. Vacation Wednesday. Yeh.

New domain name suffix

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Did you see that in future, companies will be able to register any domain name suffix. So, instead of being restricted to .com, .org, .gov etc, now google could own .google, or .coke or .search. It’s pretty expensive to register a new suffix and there are quite a few rules around keeping it, but I can see that there is tremendous branding value in this, so I’m sure we’ll see lots of them.

I wonder if anyone is going to register “.dot”…..that would be pretty cool because then I could have a web site name of “dot dot dot” or in fact any name followed by dot dot.

Health Insurance

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

I have no comment on Obama’s proposals for healthcare because honestly, I have not really read about it. I normally wait until it becomes a reality before I understand something.

But, I do know that there is something radically wrong with the current system.

I left my job on April 29th. Immediately, all of my insurance cards stopped working and so I have to start paying for prescriptions, doctors visits etc.

But, despite me calling and trying to hurry people, I did not receive the paperwork for Cobra until fully 5 weeks later – the end of the first week in June.

Then, I look at my Cobra and it is $1,774 per month! Wow….we certainly did not have the top healthcare plan but $1774 per month!

So, I sent the check for $1774…..and my insurance cards are still not working. I finally got this resolved on Monday (June 20th….7 weeks without coverage)…they told me on the phone that because I only sent $1774, that was only for May, and so my account was still inactive (of course, they had not sent me the bill for June).

Now, I have to write them a check for $3548 for 2 months coverage (end July)….and then I’ve got to collect all of the receipts from all of the health services my family has had in the last 7 weeks and submit them for reimbursement.

Now, I’m not asking for sympathy because I am in a privileged position of being able to afford to deal with this (even though it just sucks up my time). But, for those that cannot….shelling out that kind of money for healthcare insurance, plus having to pay yourself for everything for 7 weeks…..UGH!

Weird stuff

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I spoke to a Boston based recruiter yesterday – turns out that he used to play rugby with a good friend of mine in England. How random is that? (my friend is not in the software business).

Had a dream the other day….that alligators were chasing myself and my kids. Really vivid. Woke up in the morning and my daughter said to me “Dad, I had a bad dream last night. I dreamt that we were all being chased by alligators”. And she went on to tell me the details and it was exactly the same as mine….and no, we had not watched any TV show about alligators. That one was freaky.

I saw an article the other day about the “house price boom” that is starting to happen in the Bay Area, and how it will get frantic as soon as Facebook and all the others finally IPO. Then I saw an article about house prices in Las Vegas, and other parts of the US and how they are double-dipping down. The Bay Area is really an anomaly.

Getting excited about my vacation….counting down.

Due to issues with the prior administration….things will be bad

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Of course what the blog title really means is “oh sh**, I’ve really screwed this thing up…but fortunately I can blame the last guy and nobody will notice”.

I was thinking over the weekend, how many people in life blame the “prior administration”?

Think about politicians….they never take ownership and accept blame themselves, instead they survive for the first part of their term by blaming “the prior administration”. Then….once voters start to see through that, then they move on to blaming someone else until ultimately everyone realizes that they are FoS and votes them out of office…and so the chain is repeated.

The same is true of sales execs….in all the years that I’ve been managing sales teams, I’ve never seen a sales exec take over another sales exec’s territory and say “wow, there is a ton of qualified opportunities here to work on”. Instead, the most sure fire way to see an entire sales funnel disappear is to assign the territory to a new sales exec. “Nope…all that funnel was unqualified and none of it was any good!”

But…hopefully when you ultimately make it to the mgmt/executive ranks in any organization, you no longer use “the prior administration” as a lame excuse.

Take ownership, admit mistakes, admit struggles but have a plan;  your team will realize that you are human and will want to follow you…..it’s funny how I completely disagree with so many of the so called “best practices” of management….but then I guess that’s the difference between someone that runs business for success versus a politician that is only interested in protecting their own best interests and reputation.

New opportunities

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Saw this on LinkedIn yesterday….

Phil LaForge – EVP and COO – Hosted and Managed Services at TDS Telecommunications Corp.

Phil was originally one of our first Managed Service Provider customers and then later joined as our VP, Service Providers. He was instrumental in helping us gain such traction with the MSP channel. Tremendous guy, TDS Telecom are lucky to have him.

Good luck Phil.

Champions League final back at Wembley in 2013

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Better buy my tkts now!

Had a fun few days…..my kids graduated from elementary school this morning….that was fun. My first US graduation ceremony.

Met with software CEO yesterday morning, cool guy and interesting stuff. Met board member/investor of a company I’m looking at yesterday pm – liked him a lot.

3 VC meetings the day before.

Trying to decide whether I need to jump right back in or take some time….lot’s of people advising me to take time….but I enjoy what I do so much.

Can’t wait for vacation – 2 weeks…London, Provence, Paris…..ahhhhhh

Party

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Thanks to everyone that came to the party on Saturday to see Dixon and Phil on to new things in style. It seemed as though everyone had a good time :)

I am trying to ensure that I’ve got personal email addresses so that if we have similar gatherings in the future, I can be sure to invite the right folks and keep in touch.

Email me at garyread@yahoo.com from your personal account if you’re interested so that I can update my address book.

Cheers!

Quota crushing sales reps – creating a customer centric culture

Friday, June 10th, 2011

This is a “must-read” for any startup CEO that wants to hire and retain the best sales reps.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/smb-sales-advice/the-7-traits-of-quota-crushing-sales-pros/335

Some comments by myself….

1. I absolutely understand this. A quality sales rep with a problem effecting customer satisfaction or a potential deal will scream at every part of the company until he/she is heard. Rank hath no privilege with these guys….as CEO I am a resource for our sales team to use just like everyone else.

2. But, the problem comes in when other parts of the company don’t understand this. The legal department, the finance department, the support team – they don’t like sales reps pushing them too hard. They complain when they think a sales rep is being “rude” to them (they’re not actually being rude, they just don’t have time for the normal niceties). This, by the way is a real issue that needs managing because you need to retain a respectful culture and sales reps needs to understand that “you’ll catch more bees with honey than vinegar”.

3. Customer satisfaction is not something that has a written definition of how to achieve. It is a state of mind and a philosophy. Everyone in the company needs to understand that (a) Customer satisfaction is absolutely our highest priority and (b) The sales team are the ones most likely to tell us when there is a customer satisfaction problem.

4. Everyone in the company needs to understand that the tail doesn’t wag the dog. Look at the management team….who is spending time with customers truly understanding their needs? I have had many, many discussions on this subject. Don’t be a company dictated to by legal or by finance or by operations. Those roles are critically important but they are important in supporting the key objectives of the business….happy customers and revenue. Too much red tape and your best sales reps will leave.

5. Some other things to consider for hiring and retaining the best sales reps….

- Do not screw up their commissions – spend the time and the effort to ensure that they are accurate and ON TIME.

- Do not “cap” commission plans – top reps want to believe that the sky is the limit, not some artificially imposed commission cap.

- Do not “bait and switch” in commission plans. Hey, I know it may seem egregious to pay that huge commission check, but just pay it and then, take a copy of it and show it to everyone else in the sales team.

- Always create incentive programs outside of the commission plan. Reps like to compete and, even though they can afford that vacation anyhow, making it a President’s Club trip means that they will do anything to get there. You will not believe the deals that can be closed when there is an incentive trip on the line.

- They like to be recognized and put on a pedestal. Make sure that your top reps are recognized company-wide – they like the way that feels and will want to come back for more.

- Be willing to take their call anytime and be accessible (and mean it!! i.e. don’t sit in your ivory tower and insist that everyone kneels before you – be real). It may be cleaning out red tape internally, it may be getting engineers on a plane to sort out a customer problem, it may be talking about structuring a deal, it may be talking to a customer to ensure that the customer understands the commitment

6. Of course, the quid pro quo in all of this is that, if they don’t perform they get fired before anyone else. But they know that, it’s not personal.

Classic….

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

Truth, honesty….just be real folks

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

I had a great meeting yesterday with one of the most accomplished individuals in Silicon Valley. We talked about leadership and the difference between leadership and management. Hint: I am a lousy manager.

But…so many times I see individuals give a presentation or a speech to a group of their employees and, while the speech is undoubtedly very good….it lacks any kind of passion. Why? Because the speaker is effectively just a robot – reciting what they think they are supposed to say. Any number of people could be substituted into that slot and give the same speech.

I understand why more structured organizations have to be like that but that’s not me. Anyone that has ever worked with me, whether they liked my style or not, will know that I speak from the heart and I speak about what I believe in. I may not be the guy that prepares the most for a presentation, but part of that is because I pride myself of my deep knowledge of the subject area because, guess what, I like to spend a large percentage of my time talking to customers.

Not sure what this blog posting is about, just random musings while I’m relaxing on the couch, watching the baseball and about to crack another beer.

Why do people pretend to be something that they are not?