Tech people can't sell

I don't code. 

Well, check that...I can muck up the HTML and CSS on my own blog, and I did cut and paste some PHP once, but for all intents and purposes, I don't code.

More importantly, though, is that I don't pretend to know how to code.  I know what I'm capable of and what I am not.

So when I see the pitchdecks and biz dev presentations that techie entrepreneurs send me, or when I ask someone to tell me about their company, I have to smile.  I smile the same way my CTO Alex smiles and shakes his head when someone who has never built anything advocates buzzwords like cloud computing or Ruby on Rails for every project.

Creating a sales plan, a marketing pitch, or PR for brand awareness is like building a service, and tech people are going to be no more successful at it than a business person will be trying to manage a technology build themselves or hacking something together on their own.  Sure, you get the occasional lightning strike exception, like Craig building the original version of Craigslist, but for the most part, every espect of a business requires focus and expertise to do it right.

For some reason though, tech people never seem to admit that they need a businessperson.  I see businesspeople ask for tech all the time to build a great idea but where are the tech people clamoring for a businessperson to market and sell a great product?

Some people think a great product doesn't need to be sold or marketed.  Sure, some things take off in a small community at first, but haven't we learned our Slanket/Snuggie/Freedom Blanket lesson yet?  Same product, but one of those products is making money hand over fist because of savvy marketing.

Crossing the chasm into the mainstream--really hitting that tipping point on usage or revenues or what have you--will be a function of a well thought out and well executed sales and marketing plan.  It's something that a lot of startups don't take seriously enough--until they're scrambling for users before their money runs out.  If you're asking the intern or the entry level marketing associate to drive your business forward, it's too late.

If you're in NYC this Thursday night, you should definitely check out Mark LaRosa and Jeff Stewart's nextNY presentation on Jumpstarting Sales at a Startup.  They're two sales experts and have helped a number of startups.  If you've got something to sell or are already selling something, this is a must-attend!