It's been a busy 7-10 days for me personally and for Notice Technologies.

On the personal front, we are preparing to move cross-country from Seattle back to Austin.  As you can imagine, there are a lot of "little things" to handle.  None of them are difficult or terribly time-consuming, but the collective weight of everything involved is pretty harsh.  There are highlights like the extremely reasonable folks at Door to Door Storage, and there are lowlights (I will spare you the details).  Suffice it to say that planning a cross country move is a real pain, and it is an experience that tests your will.

But we love Austin and I think I can build a successful tech business there.  More to come later on the Seattle vs. the Valley vs. NYC vs. elsewhere debate in our business.

Last week, my CTO flew in for a series of meetings with customers in the Seattle area.  Nothing clarifies your thought process like a scheduled 12 hours of presentations across four different areas.  Well maybe VC meetings but only if you truly *need* their money.  Now I've done this many, many times before — as a startup entrepreneur, a Microsoft employee, a business development executive, a friend trying to help another entrepreneur, etc.  But I am more a generalist than a sales professional, which means that each of these meetings is a learning experience for me!  Some quick observations:

  • Every engagement is different — you have to read the room in the first 10-15 minutes and adapt.  Failure to do so can be fatal.
  • Experience helps — during every meeting, I encounter a situation that I've encountered before.  I may not have all the answers, but dealing with similar situations in the past really helps today.
  • No matter how much experience you have, you will make mistakes — in the heat of the battle, it is easy to lose focus on all the little things you need to achieve along the way.  Be sure you know what you want and don't get derailed based on anything that happens along the way.
  • Find common ground early & often — you set the wrong tone if you fail to get agreement early & often.  Set the tone and set it in your favor.
  • Demo as little as possible — I'm a big believer in Murphy's law for demos.  In one of our meetings, something that hasn't been broken in 4 months crapped out.  If you agree to do a demo, just be prepared for the worst.
  • Don't force a square peg into a round hole — you may have the exact tonic for a customer's problem, yet you still may not win the sale.  I have a different take than most — I think you stand a much better chance moving on to the next customer than you do by forcing the deal.  Not everyone is going to want what you have.  It's OK.  Dwelling on it is unnecessary if you've built something that is really as important as you think.  Those of you who like to cook know that some things need time and low heat :-)
  • Run with it — if you have a customer who aligns with who you are and what you have, go with it.  Make them successful.  These are the best customers to have, and they are the ones who will work with you the most.

Have a great week everyone!