Archive for July, 2012

How not to be successful at selling

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

This frustrates me so much……

I need to change my car. The commute to our San Francisco and even our Mountain View offices some days has become so bad that I am trading cars and I am going to buy a plug-in Prius. I know exactly which car spec that I want, so I decide to visit the dealer last night for a quick look on my way home (I’ve had one before so I don’t need to test drive or anything, after all, how much can you really tell about driving a Prius around the block for a test drive….lol).

Sales lady approaches me, answers a couple of questions for me. I say “Look, I want to buy one, I want this color and this spec. Please email me your best price and I will send you the money and will pick it up on Wednesday. Here is my phone number but please don’t call me….email me”

Easy right? Well, not so fast because the people that are working in car showrooms are clearly trained to NOT LISTEN. First, I get an email from her telling me that they have the car with the spec that I want and telling me the list price. Her email continues to say “if you want the best price, you will have to come back to the showroom”. Oh really? Because car prices are such a big secret right?

Email back to her politely saying that I don’t have time to come to the showroom or to haggle, just send me your best price and I will buy it. Then, follows a series of phone calls from the sales director. Of course, the sales director is such an important part of buying a car because it’s going to make me feel so special that the sales director has to call me to offer me the super special price. Come on guys, who are you kidding – cars are commodities, pricing is all over the internet, and last I checked, I thought you wanted to sell more of them.

Then finally, this morning the sales person emails me telling me that her sales director has been trying to call me but “I don’t know what it’s about because I’m not allowed to offer any discount”. And hopefully there endeth the story, I replied to her email and said (1) I asked you not to call me (2) I asked for an email with best price (3) This was going to be one of your quickest/easiest sales of the year, but you’ve blown it.

Seriously, I know that there has to be a sales process, I know that they think they’ve got a much better chance of closing me if they can persuade me to come back to the dealership and I know I’m probably a somewhat corner case. But, train your people to listen. Train your people to live and work in 2012 where so much business is conducted electronically and where for some people (me included), buying a car is not a particularly exciting thing to do, it’s just something that I need to get done as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Reminds me of a situation a few years back at my prior company – a potential customer told us to “just send them the software for a few weeks and don’t call them or email them until they contact us”. This was not our normal process but, we listened, did what the customer asked and ultimately ended up with a very large sale. Sort of funny because so many books have been written around “customer centric selling” etc….but in reality, it’s all about legislating a sales process and making the customer follow it.

What I’d like as a customer is for someone to ask me how I’d like to engage….offer additional tweaks to that if they feel that offers value, and then agree it and move forward.

Rant over.

Big Day for @Boundary – $15m in new funding

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Boundary is pleased to announce today the closing of its Series-B investment round and welcome Scale Venture Partners to join our existing investor Lighstpeed Venture Partners as investors in our exciting and game-changing business.

As we were talking to various different potential investors we were looking for a few things in a new partner for our business. We were looking for someone that understood the fundamental change that was happening in the IT infrastructure, we were looking for someone that realized that change would lead to huge disruption in the IT Management market where the future leaders will come from today’s startups not today’s incumbents, and we were looking for someone that had successfully worked with other organizations to help transform traditional enterprise software markets with new models and “consumer like” products.

We found exactly what we were looking for in Scale VP; loved the interactions that we had with their team and with their existing portfolio companies and were very pleased to move forward with them. In addition, Lightspeed, that were the founding investor in Boundary, increased their commitment to the company, which is a tremendous endorsement and vote of confidence – they have been a ton of help for Boundary. We feel very fortunate to have such great investors.

But what about our business….do you want to know the dirty secret of IT mgmt?

Existing tools are not designed for dynamic, modern infrastructures (but then again, if you work in these environments then you already know that).

For an old guy like me, I remember the mainframe to client/server transition and for the first few years of that transition, existing mainframe mgmt vendors “reworked” their tools to deal with client/server and customers struggled and did the best that they could. Then, a new breed of vendor came along that understood and architected their solution for the new world of client/server applications, and suddenly everyone realized how much better that they were and, well the rest is history – history that will repeat itself.

#monitoringsucks and other such collection of opinions come about because existing monitoring solutions are fundamentally not designed to deal with today’s environments and operational needs- the user is struggling trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Boundary will help change that; since April of this year, we have already welcomed 35 paying and happy customers – customers that love what we are doing for them and love the rapid pace and iterative development of Boundary, but we’re only just getting started.

Having this additional funding will enable us to think bigger and solve tougher problems. We are actively hiring in multiple areas of our business (send us your resume if you’re the best) and of course we’re looking to extend our customer reach.

So a great day for Boundary…..thanks to our customers, our partners and our employees for getting us to this point but….we haven’t achieved anything yet – we need to run hard, fast and long to get to our destination.

Execute, execute, execute – I hope you come along for a ride.

@Dell acquires @Quest…..

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Wow is my first reaction. Quest is Vinny and will Vinny stick around for this? Doubt it….why would he? How will Quest do without the guy that has been their leader for so long? Microsoft without Bill, Sun without Scott…..hmm

So, a new chapter for Quest is an under-statement. There is clearly leadership at Dell that knows the IT mgmt business….starting with John Swainson, the former CEO of CA. I never met John, but he was credited with taking CA from a company that was struggling under SEC investigations and all their other issues, and turning it back into a real company again. And then I recently noticed one of my old colleagues Tom Kendra, another senior CA exec is now the VP & GM Software Group at Dell (is he moving to Austin?)

Hmm, interesting times lay ahead for these folks. Quest is not CA but then again neither is Dell. I wish them well and wonder whether Dell can become a major force in IT mgmt alongside CA, HP, IBM, BMC….will they expand this into the Big-5….or will they simply milk the Quest maintenance revenue?

Oh well….anyone from Quest worried about your future? Plenty of open positions at Boundary….we’re young but we’re strong and very ambitious.