Remember This: Sales Cures All

I was watching Mark Cuban last night in an interview from Techcrunch 50. You should definitely watch it as there was a lot that I took away and there are a lot of inspirational stories. The one statement that stuck with me and is a perspective that I hold for the most part is “Sales Cures All”. If you can hire an amazing sales staff you are light years ahead against any competitor that doesn’t have a team working to increase the bottom line.

I have spent the past 8 years trying to build businesses and all of them have failed. I’m finally running a business that is able to stay above water. If you want to take advice from a person that has failed time and time again here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Launch Your Site as Quickly As Possible – I have met so many sites that are in the alpha stage and in still in “stealth mode”. In the social web economy, this will kill your company. Take a look at the quality of Facebook applications that launched and rose to the top. There are only a few companies that you can point to where quality user interfaces were critical for success. The bottom line is that good ideas are viral.
  • Iterate Quickly – Once you launch your beta product which may not be the prettiest product it’s time to start iterating quickly. This lets your users know that you are dedicated to improving their experience and will keep them coming back for more.
  • Find the Quickest Path to Revenue – Your company isn’t much of a company without a bottom line. You probably know of all the venture funded companies that have no revenue currently. I can guarantee you that those companies will get increasing pressure from their investors to produce. While some companies don’t need revenue, it’s critical to keep your company afloat. Facebook for instance strives to operate at or close to break-even. It’s a good model to follow.
  • If You Have Something to Sell, Sell It! – There are countless startups that keep iterating without revenue. Charge someone else to pay for those iterations! One way to accomplish this is by licensing your product to a client and letting them foot the bill for your first iteration. This model only works for certain products but the lesson learned still applies to others. As soon as you have a product, it’s time to start selling.

Disclaimers

The model that I’ve described above works best in the social web economy. If you are trying to build revolutionary technologies like the fastest electric car (e.g. Tesla), keeping the product in stealth mode for a period of time is perfectly acceptable. The social web economy is one of the fastest moving industries and getting your product out there and being able to iterate is critical. Not all industries are this fast as most others are much more capital intensive.

Bottom Line

Over the past year I have spoken with countless startups and after speaking with the most successful ones I’ve realized that they always have an amazing sales team. Mark Cuban confirmed my observation last night and this rule is one I’ll continue to follow. Following this rule is also how I launched Social Ad Summit, which will take place next week in New York City.

Thanks to the support of amazing sponsors, we were able to accomplish something that I would have never previously considered possible for Social Times. Rather than waxing poetic about Social Times, I’ll leave you with a quote from Ray Kroc: “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.”