I’m publishing a series of Q&A excerpts from my interviews with Sales 2.0 leaders, which will appear in my next book. This is the third and final excerpt from my interview with Jim Pitkow, CEO of Attributor, which produces Web-monitoring software that protects publishers’ revenue by preventing unauthorized use of content.
An inside-sales veteran, Pitkow worked with my company, Phone Works, to research his market and customers, as well as test the feasibility of using an inside-sales model, before he ramped up his sales efforts. Like most Sales 2.0 leaders, Pitkow isn’t afraid to try new things, but he is smart enough to test his hypotheses on small scales with pilot programs in all aspects of his business.
Anneke: How are your customers changing?
Jim: They don’t require face-to-face. They’re happy with online and phone communication. We close six-figure deals without ever seeing a customer.
Anneke: There are people who believe it can’t be done — “Not in my market, not my customers” — and sometimes that’s true.
Jim: Yes, I hear that a lot, especially in markets outside the U.S. There is still this rolling wave, an evolution of acceptable business practice. We are constantly looking for as much efficiency as far down the stack as we can to reduce our costs and increase our margin.
Anneke: There are certain types of people — Sales 2.0 professionals — who aren’t afraid to ask for help, aren’t afraid to take risks, do things a little differently, experiment, do pilots, test — and not think traditionally about selling. But there are a whole lot of people who aren’t comfortable with that. Why do you think that’s the case?
Jim: The valley is filled with entrepreneurs and business leaders who feel they have to know everything and do everything. There is a lack of confidence from the business community, as well as their investors, as well as their employees. They feel if they’re not Superman, they won’t be successful.
Anneke: And they feel they’re not earning their compensation plan.
Jim: Right, and the exact opposite is true, at least from my experience: Good management knows where it begins, knows where it ends, knows where its strengths are and where they aren’t. Good management doesn’t have ego around itself such that it can’t ask for help; it can try and fail. There is a mantra these days of, “If you’re going to fail, fail quickly and cheaply.” It’s easy to say. It’s a great sound bite. It’s very hard to do — to sit there and say, “I want 50-grand, 100-grand, and at the end of that I’m going to tell you whether we have a scalable sales business.” To me, it almost seems too cheap. If the answer is actually that simple to find, it demystifies everything. A lot of people have a hard time realizing the answer is that simple and that efficient to get to.