January 05, 2017
Help me help you
A former salesperson from Gold Systems emailed me recently to comment on an article I had written and to say that he was starting his own company. David Colliver is his name and his new company is Colliver Technology Group. He's helping companies get a handle on their sales support technology.
Years ago David was a sales person at my company. I remember he heard me speak at the University of Colorado and he made it his business to get a job with us. I liked his attitude and we hired him to be our newest sales person. Besides being a likable person, the thing that stood out about David was how effectively he would ask for assistance. Many sales people were too afraid to ask the CEO to help them with a deal. I don't think I was that unapproachable unless I was starting to suspect that they couldn't sell. I did my best to help without stepping on their toes and I always believed that if I went on a sales call, they were the leader and I was supporting them. Dave got that and we had many enjoyable and profitable sales trips together.
The idea of "help me help you" came from me noticing that many of the salespeople (not Dave) would ask for help by sending me an email saying "Can you help me with a client?" I would answer, "Sure, who's the client." They would answer "Big Insurance Company." I would respond, "Great, I would love to work with you to get the sale, what do you need me to do?" They would answer, "Can you send an email to their VP of Whatever saying how much we want their business? Me - "Sure, who are they" Them - "Jayne Smith." Me - "Ok, what's their email address?" If it was tedious to read that, it was really tough for me and each of my responses would get slower.
Dave was different. He would send me an email more like this:
Hey Terry, I'd like your help with a deal I'm working on with Big Insurance Company. I'm to the point where I would like to ask them for a meeting where we will go out together and try to close the sale, and I'd like you to send an email to Jayne Smith at Jayne@BigInsuranceCompany.com. I want you to send something like this if you would please. Feel free to put it in your own words.
David Colliver who is your account representative at Gold Systems has told me that he is trying to set up a meeting at your headquarters to discuss our proposal. I would love to join David on that trip so that I can meet you and answer any questions about how we'll take care of you as our customer. I'm sure David has done a great job and I would like to now introduce myself and accompany him on his next visit with you at Big Insurance Company headquarters. If that's OK, I'll ask my assistant Angela to help us coordinate schedules.
Thank you and I look forward to meeting you!
(Back to Dave's voice here) If that looks good to you Terry, just send the email, copy me and I'll work with Angela to make it happen. I've also attached a copy of our latest proposal to this email in case you want to take a look.
Thanks! -- Dave
Do you see the difference? Rather than me having to drag every detail out of the salesperson over multiple emails, Dave made it extremely easy for me to help him. He anticipated everything I would need to know, and in fact gave me more than I needed. I could have looked in our CRM system for the contact's email and our proposal database for the document, but that would have taken me more time and might have delayed my response to Dave. You see he was making it so easy to help him so that I just did it as soon as I read his email and gave him what he needed. Dave was and is a nice guy but he did this to improve the odds of getting my help and making the sale. I've always appreciated him for that, and I've told this story in many mentoring sessions.
So before you ask someone for help, take a lesson from Dave. Anticipate what they need to know to help you, and give it to them clearly and concisely in a way that makes it easy for them to help you.
Dave, all the best with the new company! I'm sure you will do a great job of anticipating your customer's needs and making it easy for them to buy from you.
November 03, 2016
Sidebar in UniSA Business Magazine
This month's UniSA Business magazine asked me to write a sidebar piece for an article on entrepreneurship. I answer the question, "What three things do you need to start a business?" You can check it out here if you want. http://ow.ly/1W4e305m3fa You can find the sidebar by looking at the top of the article for the "Further Reading" tab.
September 20, 2016
Fail Good video with Brad Feld
This is one of many videos recorded of Brad Feld while he was visiting us at the Centre for Business Growth in Adelaide, Australia. My Australian friends tell me that people here are much less tolerant of "failure" than in the US. They say that you may not get to try again if something doesn't work here. I'm not sure that's true, but it wouldn't be a healthy attitude for entrepreneurship if it was true. I heard Brad say multiple times that he would invest in people who had "failed" as long as they were honest and learned from their experience. We also talked quite a bit about what failure even is, or what a success is, and it's not just measured by return on investment. That certainly is an important measure, but not the only measure.
Brad is being interviewed by Felicia Trewin from ANZ, who is one of our sponsors at the Centre for Business Growth. They are great supporters of businesses and entrepreneurs!
If you would like to see more videos of Brad, check out his blog here at feld.com. It was fun to spend a week with him here in Adelaide! Thanks Brad!
June 15, 2016
My new job in Australia - From Longmont to Adelaide in less than three months
April 29, 2016
It's Official, I'm off to Australia!
My Work Visa was approved this week, so it's official - I'm moving to Adelaide Australia! We've given notice on the rental house that we've been in this past year in Longmont since we sold our house in Boulder, and now it's just a matter of packing up stuff into storage and getting on the plane on May 25th. That gives me less than a month to do a lot of organizing, donating and saying goodbye to many friends and family.
At times it is a little overwhelming to think about, but mostly it is just exciting to consider how lucky I am. I'm going to get paid to hang out with entrepreneurs who are growing interesting companies in a country that every single person I know has said they wished they could visit. Adelaide, the city where I'll be living, isn't as well known as larger cities like Sydney but it is listed in the top ten most livable cities in the world and I can't wait to start exploring!
I'll do updates to this blog in the future about what it's like to make a move half way around the world, and about the great people and companies that I know I will encounter in the process. If you want to get email updates, you can sign up to be notified whenever I do a new post or just check back occasionally.
Hawkes Building, photo courtesy UniSA.
For more on my move check out this post: http://www.terrygold.com/t/2016/03/life-after-part-2-big-news.html
March 22, 2016
Life After, Part 2 - Big News!
January 25, 2015
Life after Gold Systems
I've been done with Gold Systems for just over a year now. The one year aniversary passed, and I thought that maybe it was time to tell the story, but really I've been looking forward much more than backwards so I'm going to save it a while longer. I will say that when I do look back, I think mostly about the great people who worked at Gold Systems. I've started a new company and not a day goes by where I don't think of the people I've worked with, the lessons I've learned and I'm reminded how much they helped me over the years.
Late last year I was asked to join a new venture firm as an operating partner. The founders were people I had known for years and I have great respect for them, and I wanted to be a part of whatever they were doing. They were the founders of a great company in Longmont, Colorado so it was natural that we would look for space for the new venture in Longmont. One of our first meetings was with the Longmont City Manager, the Assistant City Manager and members of the Longmont Area Economic Council. I was so impressed by how supportive everyone was and how much they were committed to making Longmont a great place for people and businesses. As I've spent time in Longmont I've realized it is a community of wonderful people and they've quickly adopted me and become friends.
While exploring the creation of an accelerator to compliment the venture firm, I realized that there was an even greater need in Longmont. While Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins have many places for entrepreneurs and startups to work and connect with mentors and like-minded people, Longmont didn't have a single coworking space. There is TinkerMill, which is the largest maker space in Colorado, but there wasn't a single coworking facility. That's just changed.
In January we opened the doors to Launch Longmont. It's a place for entrepreneurs and startups to meet and work together, and to make the random connections that don't happen when you're working out of the spare bedroom at home. Members can get a desk or a seat on a monthly basis with no long term commitments, and as we build out the space on the second floor they will even be able to get small suites. Ultimately success for Launch Longmont is that these members will grow out of the space, become successful in the Longmont community and then return as mentors and speakers to help the next generation of startups.
Soon after starting Launch Longmont, I realized that I am not just helping startups, but I am in a startup myself. I'll be sharing some of the new lessons learned, and talking about the people who have helped to make it happen over on the Launch Longmont blog, and I'll also be posting here about the journey.
If you are an experienced entrepreneur or business expert, you can help me out by visiting and getting involved as a mentor or speaker. If you are a new entrepreneur, or you just want to get out of the garage and join a community of entrepreneurs you should also check us out. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks!
June 01, 2014
Trakdot - An Internet of Things Cautionary Tale
(Photo credit Craig)
This morning my sister sent me a link to a USA Today story "Ultimate Travel Tech Tools and Tips for Families." She knew I would want to read about the new Trackdot, a wireless luggage tracker for frequent fliers. Trakdot's idea is you put this little battery powered device in your luggage before you check it, and then when your luggage arrives at it's desitation, it sends you a text message saying where it is located. That's nice when it lands the same place you do, and really helpful when it lands somewhere else so you can tell the lost luggage department where the luggage actually is. Because you know they don't know where it is most of the time!
The Trakdot costs $49 with free shipping, and there is a $19 per year service plan to pay for its wireless usage. You can also buy it on amazon.com.
Before I go any further, I have to say that I have not yet ordered a Trakdot. I really could use this product, but I found most of the reviews on Amazon, sorted by "most helpful" were pretty bad. To be fair, the most recent reviews are mostly very good.
And this is the point of my post here. The Internet of Things market is going to be full of very cool, inexpensive and useful sounding technology, and some of it is not going to work very well especially in the early days of the products.
What I saw in the early reviews of this product were typical of many new tech products:
- Poorer than advertised battery life
- Confusing and poorly written documentation
- A human interface that is not obvious to use, requiring the use of the poorly written documentation
- Customer service that is either overwhelmed or doesn't care and leaves the early customers who believed in the vision of the product wondering if they made a mistake being an early adopter
- Lots of mentions in the press and in blogs by people (like me) who did not actually get to use the product before writing their breathless reviews about how great the new technology is or is not going to be
- Poor reviews by actual users who are frustrated and want to warn others away from the product
Whenever there is a gold rush mentality in a market, people rush in, money follows and products get shipped before they are ready because the inventors and investors are afraid that someone else is just about to ship and steal the category. In the early days of the gold rush the press believes the PR machine and knows the public is interested in the newest thing, so the reviews tend to be uninformed and glowing.
I am so excited by the Internet of Things - cheap little computers, connected to sensors and to the internet - and it will bring amazing new devices and services to our lives. But I do hate to see companies get caught up in the rush to market with a product before it is quite ready.
Getting back to Trackdot, and reading the latest reviews on Amazon, I see a company that seems to be trying to get back on the right foot with their product launch. The more recent reviews are almost all positive. One reviewer mentioned getting an unsolicited email from the Trackdot CEO applogizing for the issues the reviewer had and then got them replacement devices. They are getting (or generating) great stories in the press. I love the idea of this product, and the price is right for the frequent traveler. I hope they can overcome the early growing pains, but I know if they can't, someone else is right around the corner with a competing product. Either way, in a little while I'm going to be able to track my luggage and most other important things in my life by cheap little devices.
I am a little cautious about the most recent reviews for Trakdot on amazon, because very few seem to be from people who have ever done a review on Amazon before or are verified purchasers of the product, and they also tend to be just a few sentences long. I'll tell you what. If I get 10 comments on this post, I'll buy a Trakdot and try it out, and I'll write an informed review. Until then, consider this post as a cautionary tale about launching new products in general, and not a product review of the Trakdot product.
(Disclaimer: I have not purchased or tested a Trakdot. I am also an amazon.com shareholder. Because I live in Colorado, I will not get even a few pennies if you click through and buy a Trakdot or anything else from this post. I do my best to be independent.)
May 24, 2014
Boulder’s fifth Startup Week is in the history books, and I want to thank everyone involved, especially the founder Andrew Hyde and his great team of hard workers, volunteers and speakers. This was the first time that I’ve been able to participate fully, and it was just what I needed. In the past I’ve been too caught up in my own business to spend the week hanging out with other people who were just starting their journeys in the startup world. I’m sure I would have benefited from the enthusiasm and great ideas being tossed around if I had made time to go in the past, and I expect I’ll spend even more time with the startup community at Boulder Startup Week next year.
May 21, 2014
Autism and Robots
The CDC reports that 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism, and it is five times more common in boys than girls. The rate of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to AutismAction.org, has been increasing by 10 to 17% per year. Certainly some of that increase comes from better diagnosis, but my understanding is that it is actually increasing in society for as yet not well understood reasons.