In my continual search for the best management ideas, I found one last week in a conversation with a CEO of a small, fast growing software firm. We can all learn a lot from their approach. There is also a lesson in the importance of reputation.
This CEO, with experience in firms like Oracle and BMC, invested in this small software company with an interesting situation: the customers were delighted but the CEO told me “The concept behind the software is utterly discredited and considered a failure.” So what did this CEO do at TLA Corp.? (Note from the author: The actual name of the firm has been changed to protect ideas from competitors.)
Here we see the value of a “whole company marketing approach.” Rather than simply developing a software product, then giving a product to Marketing and Sales, TLA Corp. looked at the market overall. They identified 15 possible target markets. Analysis of potential cut the list to four. Then the management went on the road and talked to companies in these four target markets. From there they identified pains and software needs. This CEO said to me “Jeff, we’re not just going to sell to these companies. Our whole company will target these accounts — everything from top management to product development to marketing and sales.” TLA Corp also has an aggressive partnering strategy.
How is TLA Corp doing? In a flat software market, their sales, profits and backlog are at an all-time high! Their future is bright.
This CEO took personal responsibility for this. The sketches of target markets are on his whiteboard. He personally met with target companies.
Lastly, a few words about honesty. While at Giant Software Corp, the President asked this future CEO why he did not sell their ERP offering to his Oil and Gas clients. He said “Two reasons: One, it does not work. Two, it does not fit Oil and Gas. ” This future CEO knew that these companies were future clients, no matter what he did, his reputation was his greatest asset.
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