Should you embrace conflict?


Constructive conflict is crucial for moving your organization forward. It’s the reality check; the necessary evil that paves the path to change, improvement, and then progress.

It’s a sign that: (1) someone has found something wrong, (2) they’ve thought about ways for making it better, and (3) they care enough to break out of their own comfort zone and fight for change.

Embrace conflict and facilitate changemakers at your organization. When brought by your employees and not imposed by the realities of the market, change hurts less and creates more sustained value.

When conflict stops being productive and becomes personal, that’s harmful for everyone. Having a heated debate about your customer’s needs is perfectly okay (as long as it results in actionable steps to be taken next), but a good old rivalry between Pete and Tom isn’t.

At the end of the day, conflict is never a problem. It’s either a driver of change or a sign that whatever caused it should be taken care of.

Job titles for sales reps


Trying to avoid the negative connotation that comes to customers’ minds when they get a call from “Sales Reps,” organizations often come up with alternative job titles their salespeople.

I had exactly this discussion with a friend yesterday. Is there a job title doesn’t put customers on the defensive the moment they hear it, nor does it sound too high up the hierarchy, scaring them away?

So I came up with this list of alternative job titles for sales reps I’ve stumbled upon online, on business cards, and in email signatures:

Account-related job titles:

  • Account Associate
  • Account Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Account Manager
  • Account Specialist

Client or customer-related job titles:

  • Client Advisor (my favorite)
  • Client Activation Specialist
  • Client Engagement Specialist
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Client Success Consultant
  • Client Success Manager

Sales-related job titles:

  • Sales Advisor
  • Sales Consultant
  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Professional
  • Sales Rep
  • Sales Representative

Feel free to remix, change, and use them as you want. Just remember that the title alone doesn’t make a good sales rep.

It’s the person behind it that really matters.

Ask yourself these two questions before you start a business

Small start, big future

When starting or evaluating a business, any business, ask yourself:

1. How small can you start?

2. How big can you get?

Starting small creates an opportunity to learn about your product, customer, and market at the least possible cost of failure. It enables you to experiment with your presumptions and get actionable insights in return.

Before you get those insights, however, you need a roadmap for putting them to work in the real world. A world where minimum viable products, no matter how successful, are just a start. Where big investors want you to know how exactly you can get to $10 million in revenues the next year. Where big players can buy you up or outspend you at any time.

Ask yourself and find the answers.

Great conversations happen behind closed doors


The most insightful, useful, and interesting conversations don’t happen in public on Quora, Reddit, or in some Facebook Group. They’re done behind closed doors.

And if you want to be on the verge of your industry, market, or group of peers, you need to join the decision-makers talking in private. Right now, there are countless email discussions held, lunches eaten, beers drunk, and talks talked between people with power in your area.

Get introduced. Network with them. Join them. Build relationships with them. People with power love helping people with ideas. But don’t expect them to come to you first.

How to hire your startup’s first sales rep


We had this interesting talk about hiring sales reps with a friend the other day. He’s a technical founder who knows well how to hire a developer, test their skills, and see if they fit his team’s culture.

But he wasn’t so sure in his objectivity when it came to hiring his startup’s first sales rep. That got me thinking how it must be hard to pick salespeople from a code person’s perspective. So I thought I’d turn our conversation into this blog post. Ready?

If I were a founder looking to hire my startup’s first rep, I’d look for people with these three traits:

Active and determined. They enjoy seeking out and chasing opportunities. Sales reps make between 20 and 100 cold calls a day and get rejected in 90% of them. Look for a someone who knows that they need to get turned down 90 times before they find 10 people who have interest in what they’re selling.

Comfortable with themselves (and with meeting new people). You have to trust your gut here. Does the person you’re interviewing feel authentic and honest? Can you see the excitement in their eyes? This part is really, really important. Because before they close a deal, a salesperson has to connect with the customer, listen to their problems, understand their challenges, and only then find a way to solve their problems. See this discussion on Quora for more details.

Target-oriented. It doesn’t matter how proactive and genuine you are if you can’t set and meet targets for yourself. Ask your interviewees about the targets they’re comfortable with meeting. Since there’s isn’t a universal minimum for being an effective sales rep, you’ll have to judge for yourself here.

Most of all, ask yourself: Would I trust this person if they were trying to sell me something? They’re trying to sell themselves, so it should be easy to answer this question.

P.S. Avoid sales reps who don’t want to talk about their sales process in detail. And never, ever hire someone who asks about money before asking about your product, market, or team. Though sales is about revenue, the best salespeople don’t just do it for the money.

Hello, do you speak Customer?

Product vs. Customer-oriented marketing
Product vs. Customer-oriented marketing

Marketing people, as much as they try to convince you otherwise, only speak two languages: (1) Product and (2) Customer.

Let’s see how plain English translates to these two languages:

In Product, “refrigerator” means “400-liter capacity.” In Customer, it means “Enough space to keep a week’s food for your family fresh and healthy. And the beers for tonight’s game with friends ice-cold.”

In Product, “eco engine” means “1.3-liter turbocharged Ecoboost technology.” In Customer, it means “Save money on fuel and get more fun out of every drop with our new 1.3-liter turbocharged engine.”

Customers speak native Customer, yet most marketers still try to speak to them in Product—a language they barely understand and have no intent to learn. But when you don’t speak someone’s language, does it really matter how much you try to get your message through to them?

Marketers already know how to speak Product and learning Customer is really hard, so they choose to speak the first and avoid the latter. That’s just what humans do (when faced with choice, we tend to choose the option we perceive the easiest), unless convinced otherwise.

So how are you trying to convince your organization’s marketers to stop speaking their native language for everyone’s good, even though that’s hard?

Clean your car

Carwash icon

Drive your car to the car wash and then take it out for a spin. Feel the comfort of having it clean as a whistle.

Get a flower pot or piece of decoration you’ve always wanted to have at the office and make your workspace more cozy.

Find a notebook with paper so good (Moleskine) that it makes you write or sketch with more precision than before.

Never underestimate the effect of neatness on your life.