NOLA Business Development – September 21, 2015

Happy Earth, Wind & Fire day! Q3 is almost over, so make sure you and your team are hitting those quarterly numbers.
It’s been almost exactly two months since I sent the first of these emails, and the response was positive. Looks like I’m not the only one looking for an outlet to talk through business development ideas and challenges… good to know.
I dropped the ball on a follow up to the first email, but thanks to a kick in the pants from Gerard Ramos this weekend, I’m back to this and I’ll be sure to make the emails more frequent. So without further adieu, here are a few things that have been on my mind lately:
On Meetings
In early August I was up in Seattle for a zlien management team meeting where we talked through our plans for the year. One of the topics was how we will meet as a company. Generally, I’m not a fan of meetings, but they are necessary and there is a way to make them work for your company.
Until, we had employed a daily huddle where – at 10:07am – anyone in the company could voice there opinion about anything on their mind: bugs, ideas, problems with customers, etc. Up to around 20 employees, this huddle worked well. But as the company grew larger the huddle time became dysfunctional and an utter waste of time.
In preparing for our annual meeting, I came across an article –  What Startups Can Learn From General McChrystal About Combining Strategy and Execution – that helped hone my thoughts on meetings and communication throughout our team. Specifically, the section about “Battle Rhythms” and the ensuing pointers provided the most value.
If you haven’t recently reviewed your company’s meeting cadence, it worth the exercise to evaluate how your meetings are affecting your team’s productivity.
On OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
OKRs are the invention of John Doerr, the VC who backed Google and a management bad ass. It is a way to distribute accountability throughout your organization in a way that aligns the entire team toward the same goals. For a primer, start with How to Make OKRs Actually Work at your Startup
I’m implementing OKRs for my sales team in Q4, and I’d encourage you to consider the same if you don’t already have a framework for goal-setting and accountability. We used OKRs across the management team for Q3 and the experience has been exceptional. In the past, we would set quarterly and annual goals but they would be long and forgotten by the time we were ready to review performance.
There are tons of platforms available to help your team manage OKRs, we use Weekdone here at zlien.

Watch this video:

One of the sales blogs I follow is Saastr where former entrepreneur turned VC Jason Lemkin shares his war stories growing revenue and selling his companies. He often writes about hiring, about scale, about customer acquisitions strategy, and a lot more. If you don’t want to go through the past 5 years of blog posts (and Quora responses), watch this 58 minute presentation where he talks through the Top 10 Mistakes Getting to the First 20m in ARR. It’s a great skim off the top of Lemkin’s growth philosophy.

The French guy in the video is hard to follow, but other than that it is full of tips and suggestions for scaling sales. I gained a lot of value from the presentation, hopefully you do as well.
One last thing:
NOLA Tech Week is coming up the week of October 5. There’s a ton on the schedule so carve out some time for you and your team to get involved.
If you want to talk through anything mentioned in this email, or if you just want to talk about business development, I’m always down to grab coffee or a beer. I want to help in any way that I can.