When we started AvidXchange in 2000 there was six of us. Now Avid has close to 600 employees. That’s a nice little way of proving Avid’s growth. I get asked why Avid is so successful when other in the same sixteen years died? I take great pride in a picture we have in one of our offices that lists out all of the “dot-coms” that started in 2000 with a real estate bent. There are 100 companies listed, and when I give tours I like to point out that Avid and only one other company are still in business. Even the company that published the list is no longer in business. (So) The question is why and what does this all have to do with salespeople?
One of the difficult things about writing on the topic of salespeople is variety. Variety in the fact there are so many different types of salespeople – retail, corporate, B2B, B2C, B2 – something else. For this article I want to concentrate on B2B that focus their efforts on selling technology. Selling technology that is new and innovative, require a certain type of person. One of the hallmarks of a successful salesperson in this arena is the ability to think creatively and be solution and change focus. It also helps that you have the ability to teach other about new possibilities. Unfortunately I have experience reps that don’t have these qualities and treat the sales process like they are trying to sell a car or insurance policy. The two worlds don’t seem to intersect very well. I like to coach reps on the idea that what you are about ready to ask a potential client is to forget something they have known their entire business life and, trust me, change it to something you (the client) has no idea about. Sound good? It takes certain unique selling skills to thrive in this situation.
Entrepreneurs have the need to stay current and know their market. There is also a need for them to be bold but not crazy. In my class at UNC Charlotte, and when interacting with people about the AvidXchange story I always like to point out, to most people’s surprise, that what we did, although on the outside looked very risky wasn’t. By in large entrepreneurs are seen as risk takers but they are not. Having recently gone through a capital event to the tune of $225M and having been at Avid when we simply wanted $15M to start the dream (oh and by the way didn’t get it). The difference between those two events were track record. Capital folks weren’t interested in investing in six people’s dream but would put a sizable sum on a successful machine. My point is entrepreneurs, even though they may not know what they don’t know, don’t take unnecessary risk.
There is no difference between a salesperson and an entrepreneur. The two can learn a lot from each other and steal each other’s good ideas. I tell my students that an entrepreneur is always selling… they are selling clients, investors, employees (and most importantly) their families… It is heart breaking to see a tech savvy person start a company with no desire to sell and they wonder why they struggle. And on the sales side being bold without being stupid is something to know. The best example would be in going after the companies that really (really) can do business with you and not spending time on the ones that can’t. Time and time again reps will send tons of time on a company that ultimately says some version of… no thanks.
To go back to the AvidXchange early days and the six to 600, when asked, one of the answer I always give on my we were successful is because when we started Avid five out of the six people were salespeople.
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About The Author:
Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information