Starting-up: then and now, in the silicon valley

Much before starting-up was even popular in the lexicon, Bill and Dave were folks who got together to create the pioneering company – that is widely recognized as the birthplace of silicon valley.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (no prizes for guessing right), in 1939 started Hewlett-Packard (HP) from the garage in Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, a stone’s throw from Stanford university.

Before starting-up was even a thing: the HP Garage
Always an inspiration to those starting-up: The HP Garage

Why invoke this very well known fact? Just to illustrate a contrast between what starting up meant then and what it means today.

I was triggered by a book review that Mukund Mohan did on his blog about the book Bad Blood. It is a fascinating read – and I am sure many of you have read it or even otherwise are aware of Elizabeth Holmes and her partner Sunny Balwani. Mukund lists his learnings from the sordid saga of Theranos.

The changing ethos and expectation of starting-up

It struck me how things have changed in the valley since those early days where starting-up meant innovation, unleashing the creativity and frequently engineering genius. Bill and Dave were not altruists; they were remarkably savvy businessmen. But they were mindful of their customers, fiercely proud of delivering engineering value to make their work easier.

Would Bill and Dave have recognised “a) fake it till you make it”? From the beginning, an HP marketer was told to NEVER promise the future product and “only sell what is on the price-list”. And to get on the price list, the product must already be available, ready to be shipped.

Trust, respect and shareholder value

Would Dave or Bill have built a company where the customer, employee and investors were all duped?

Would Dave and Bill be starting-up with a plan to run 13 years on no or negligible revenue; only burning investor cash?

Packard, ever the financial conservative, offers a timeless lesson on financial responsibility:

Financial responsibility is equally important, however different in nature. It is essentially a service function to see that we generate the resources which make it possible for us all to do our job.

These things translated mean that in addition to having the objective of trying to make a contribution to our customers, we must consider our responsibilities in a broader sense. If our main thought is to make money, we won’t care about these details. If we don’t care about the details, we won’t make as much money. They go hand in hand.

Dave Packard- Quote: source- The HP Way: Dave Packard on How to Operate a Company

Very few starting-up today have a lofty vision like that.

The birthplace of Silicon Valley- the Mecca for starting up

How did this idea for starting-up come to such a pass? How did we all fall prey to the thinking that the future is always bright and mistake gambling for investing? How did so many people, grown up, wizened old men among them, make this mistake? How come it took 13 years for this scam to unravel?

The answer, Mukund says lies in FOMO. So many people, willingly suspended disbelief for fear that if they passed up on Theranos, they would hand over a massive advantage to their competitors.

I think there are other factors too. The accent today is on growing the top-line, faster and faster and everyone is setting “Bold, Hairy and Audacious” goals. Start-ups today do not see building a company to last as a goal. Bill and Dave built their company such that it became an institution and their folksy wisdom; which included unwavering focus on the customer and respect for employees, returning values to the shareholder became management wisdom.

How many times, have I seen my managers in HP walk away from bad deals? Countless. They were old timers, brought up indoctrinated by the HP Way- a deceptively simple way to run business. I say deceptively, because many of the tenets of the HP way, would be hard to live up to, simple as they may sound.

Infallible guide to decide between configured CRM and customized CRM

Configured CRM, Customized CRM or custom-built?

Forgive this play on words. Do you want to have a customized CRM; build on your CRM- add features: views, workflows or reports? Or do you want to build the CRM ground up, custom-built for you?

Technically the first option can start from configuration – where you make changes to the CRM UI, add or remove some data capture options to where you make significant changes requiring efforts, involving coding.

I guess we all know the custom-built option- building something ground up- is very expensive. Just to share the perspective on why that is the case, here’s a simple schematic. This can apply to any enterprise software deployment in your company.

configured or customized

 

 

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Not just sales! Saleswah for field service management

Saleswah CRM announces the most comprehensive field service management product

Why does a comprehensive service management product need to ride on a sales management platform? To illustrate, let me tell you a story.

Two insurance companies (A and B) went to war over customer mindshare. To beat the rather staid promise of A to take care of your lifelong needs, the company B came up with the lot more colourful “cradle to grave” promise.

That worked well, so well, that the company A’s ad agency was driven to desperation to come up with a suitable reply. At long last, they did! Their new slogan, was: “From inception to resurrection”!!!

Okay, so I made it up- or relayed an old joke. But, there are many reasons, why “inception to resurrection” might just be the better description of what the actual customer lifecycle is.

When the product is just a need, nebulous in the customer’s mind, it is at the inception stage. We work with the customer to give it shape, focus him on the solution we are offering and then sale happens! In an enterprise, you get a PO which you send to your order processing who make the shipment.

So far, as you can tell, this is the phase Saleswah helped you manage.

Pre-sales management in Saleswah

In enterprise sales, won business- does not necessarily lead to another one immediately. So, you may have installed bases which appear active but there may be others which are not.

They might wake up months or even years later, or they might not.

Worse, your sales and aftersales may not talk. So, service may not know all the commitments that sales made to get the business. On the other hand, sales may allow competition to come in during the long hibernation period.

Sales operations and service management on the same platform

For true CRM, the whole organization needs to be involved in managing the customer expectations and relationship. CRM is not just a sales management tool, it is a tool for managing customer relationship as related to the product and service that you are selling.

Sales helps get you in; but service keep you there.

Comprehensive service management
Transitioning from sales to service CRM

Comprehensive service management: from where sales ends

We did toy with the thought of having a standalone service management product. To be honest, you can use the Saleswah CRM only for Sales or even only as a service CRM. But, the real power of the software comes through in managing your entire sales to support continuum.

Because, you see, many customer relations could do with a rebirth. And, rather than cradle to grave- which implies a closure, resurrection is what you aim for. Having your sales and service in the same platform helps you do that.

Sign-up for a free trial and turbo-charge your customer satisfaction.

Service CRM helps nurture installed base for growing your revenue and awesome customer satisfaction

Why Service CRM

Most people agree that is takes 5 to ten times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one happy. So, it’s natural to want to nurture the installed base – folks who have purchased from you in the past.

As a CRM strategy, nurturing the installed base takes different paths.

Most models focus on logging events and interactions – meetings, proposals, quotations, orders (won/ lost). Then you have history and you can create your own interaction plan. Even have the system trigger you for pre-determined actions.

The other approach is to approach it from a service CRM mindset. Keep proper track of what you have sold, attend service calls, make him happy that he ever bought from you.

Image upload from service crm mobile app
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And, yes: you can generate revenue from service as well. Have the service CRM help in reminding you to send quotations for contract renewals. Send out spares quotes.

These approaches need not be “either-or”. You can do both.

You can’t do service if you don’t have sales- but, service is just another way of selling. Service CRM is not just a product – it is the way you think.

Sign up now and experience Saleswah CRM. It’s not just sales.