I’m sitting on my faux leather arm chair sipping my coffee from a mug that’s printed with a quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, “The most beautiful people…”
I hear the sounds of the city emanate from the cracked living room window and echo throughout the small apartment. Exhaust and engines revving and beeps and the occasional voice yelling across market street.
I’ve found an apartment in Woodside California. If I sign the lease today, I’ll move in June 16th and be living in a 17,000 sq ft mansion with ten other housemates. I’ve gone through several feelings since I discovered this arrangement last week, from excited at the prospect of living in such a place, to apprehensive of so many housemates, to at peace that I’ll make the most of this situation, and it’ll provide me with the social exposure to relieve the loneliness of the breakup.
Other than that, work has been a combination of great and hectic. I’m suppose to be drawing up a long term business plan for our global president, who wants to meet with me this week or next. Quite a task. I suspect there is about $100 to $150 million in opportunity. We currently have less than 10% of the business at $6 million or so. With the right organization and investment, I firmly believe we can grow this to $25 million in ten years, and $50 million in fifteen years. Those are rough numbers, but extremely realistic.
The most difficult part is the “how”.
Of course my management wants to hire staff and develop new products. I don’t want this, however. Not yet. I want organizational processes. Specifically, I want database systems and processes in place. Then I want to hire more people, then I want to develop and release new products. Why? Data.
My job is to grow business. I grow business by satisfying needs. I satisfy needs by developing and delivering value.
What is most critical to growth is customer needs, not solutions and products. If the customer needs change, my products are worthless.
I want systems that allow me to capture customer data. That means everything about a customer, every need, every person with that need, every department and business unit associated with that need, every machine name, every assembly name, every contract manufacturer. Once I have that system in place, then I want to collect all that information. This is the stage we hire more staff.
Once we gather enough data, then analyze it so it can inform our decision making processes. Then we can strategically develop products that will be the best fit for the customers.
I realize that I cannot build a database system without understanding the optimal processes.
As a result, I’ve developed my own processes and created my own database in Excel. This is great for me. It’s okay for managing my team. But it is not scalable.
So, what I imagine to be the best order for developing this business:
- Sales Process Organization Optimization
- Database System
- Hire Account Managers
- Collect More Customer/Market Data
- Analyze Data
- Marketing Sales Strategies for current products
- Direct Sales and Distribution
- New Product Development Engineering
- Release New Products based on Customer Database Analyses
- Local Rapid Prototyping Engineering Office – Collaborative Development
- Local Manufacturing
That’s more or less how I see this working.
When it comes to hiring more staff, I see a territory or sales director, such as myself, with a small team of sales engineers, customer support specialists, and technical marketing engineers.
Sales engineers eliminate the need for application engineers, who are more of a support role and don’t proactively close the sale. Sales engineers are responsible for solving the customers problem without any need of outside support. They are responsible for making lots of sales meetings and calls, and promoting products to specific customers. They are the most important staff for maintaining the database accuracy and updating records.
Customer support specialists are basically a combination of inside sales and customer support. They create leads, take phone calls, direct calls, take orders, provide quotes, ship samples, etc. They work closely with sales engineers to get things quoted and ordered quickly, providing the customer with any information they need as quickly as possible.
Technical marketing engineers are a combination of product managers and marketing. They work to identify sales strategy with the sales director. They analyze the database and discover trends. They also have a very deep technical product knowledge, and are always studying competition, applications, and market trends.
Need to go. Write more later.