May 4 2010

When the formula works you’ll know it.


360|Flex San Jose made over 110k…. We of course were in huge debt coming out of 2009, so we cleared no where near that. but that’s the most a 360|Event has ever made.

Clearly we’re doing better at this than before :)

Not super terrific awesome, but better.

I think we’ve found pricing that works ($499 first 100, $599 the rest), and stays true to our “Not breaking the Indie bank” ethos. We’ve also found a rhythm in selling sponsorships. Turns out I’m actually pretty good at it. These two things combined, with really aggressive selling to the community, seem to be paying off.

Our sponsorship package has gotten more wide ranging, and I think truly offers our sponsors a great value. For 360|iDev, I actaully had to turn people away, we simply didn’t have anything left to make into a sponsorship, and I refuse to simply take people’s money without giving them the absolute more value for their spend.

As the transition from 2 man team to 1 man team (Actually my wife is a major part of the company now) finishes it’s 6 month progression, I find myself even more excited about 360|Conferences. There’s lots to do, and plenty of uncertainty, but that’s exciting. I’m working hard to get 360|Mobile locked in. I’ve already begun looking at locations for 360|Flex and 360|iDev Fall. I’ve even started the ball rolling for 360|iDev Spring 2011, if you can believe that!

Oh and Europe. We might actually make it to Europe in 2010. Still TBD.

Jul 10 2009

Sales is tough, but keep at it and listen to the quiet voice


Who likes sales?  Salesmen, do I guess.  To the average person though, sales is tough and at times feels dirty.  For an entrepreneur, it’s even tougher because you’re so close to the product that it’s hard to take rejection (i.e. failed sales).   I know I’ve written about sales before and I’ll be honest, I’ll be writing more on the topic.  There’s a reason for that.  Sales is tough, but required.

I think the reason sales is tough is the value proposition and communicating that value proposition properly.  Now, I know some of you will say, “Well, that’s marketing’s job.”  I don’t agree.

In our instance, take sponsorships.  There are a few “key” sponsorships we try to land per show.  One such sponsorship was lacking for an upcoming show.  (Yes, I’m being vague on purpose to protect the innocent.  LOL)  We approached one company.  We gave the value proposition and they just didn’t get it.  The phone call quickly went downhill into the area of painful.  I wanted to hang up on my own sales call.  How sad is that?  The phone call was followed up by an email from said company which showed even more how they just didn’t get it.

This unfortunate incident caused some doubt in me.  “Maybe the value proposition we’re making, just isn’t a good one? Maybe we need to rethink things?  Maybe I just suck at communicating?” etc.  Nothing is worse for a founder than doubt.  This is your company for goodness sakes.  If you don’t believe in the value proposition, who will?  John and I chatted and we still felt that there was good value to be had.  “March on!” was our conclusion.

A couple of weeks later, the beauty of gmail snooping comes to fruition as I get an ad for someone that might fit the key sponsorship bill.  I know nothing about them, other than at face value by their ad, they seem like a fit.  A small voice inside me says: “Persue this.  Stop what you’re doing and investigate.” So I check out the site.  As I’m reading it, the excitement level in my brain starts pumping.  I can mentally see the synergies forming between us and this company.  I finally track down the contact page, which has a form vs an email address.  I fill out the personal info and talk about the potential sponsorship in the provided text area.  After clicking submit, I think to myself, “Dang, I shoulda copied that text.  It was good.”

I get a phone call later from an unrecognized number.  I answer and it’s said prospect.  After clearing the air about a poorly laid out sponsor packet, we get to talking business.  I take the time at the start to explain the biggest concept divergence from us and other shows in response to sponsors.  “We want you to succeed in whatever it is you do vs take your money and run.”  He understands.

I talk about how we see business.  He understands.

I talk about how we want long term partners, not short sighted “deposits into our checking account.” He understands.

The contracts aren’t signed yet, but I’m pretty sure they will be soon.  If not, it was nice to know that there is value in our proposition.  We are right, not crazy.

The thing I don’t understand, and will explore later, is this: Does a good salesman convince Company A (the “i wanna hang up” call) that they’re seeing things wrong?  Or does a good salesman quickly move through leads to find the gems like Company B (the “we getcha” call)?

I don’t know, but any insights you have are appreciated.  Just remember: Follow your gut/heart, despite the letdowns/failed sales and listen to that quiet voice when it speaks to you.