Randomly browsing the web today, I found that the web shop I worked for in downtown Boston during the waning days of the internet boom, Worldmachine, appears to be back in business.
It was just about two years ago that they called all of us into the conference room to announce layoffs and that they were shutting the company down. The obvious reason given at the time, was lack of new sales.
This I still find interesting, because the excuse all sales professionals seem to offer in this dreadful economy is that the sales cycle is much longer—sometimes 18 months or more. At my new company, a company which focuses on localization and testing, my co-workers and I were treated to a sales presentation recently, in which the same kinds of excuses were offered.
Unlike Worldmachine’s woefully understaffed Sales dept., however, this team seems to be adjusting to the “new” New Economy. They’ve accepted that the IT market is a shirking pie, and that price competition is getting too cutthroat. Instead, they are looking to new verticals for growth.
In Boston, the Bio-tech boom is providing a new market in the life sciences. As drug manufacturers look to market their products overseas, partnering with a top localization firm is going to be critical. The planet’s population is only going to get older.
An interesting theory our Sales team is going to try, is to group their teams by vertical, rather than by location. Though it may have made sense a few years ago to send your Tokyo team to Hong Kong clients, and your California team to clients in Los Angeles, the reality of a long sales cycle and a need to patiently educate clients is forcing a reconsideration. Sales needs to educate themselves first—and to do that, they need more involvement from production and operations people. People like me.
The good news is, we are profitable, and I’m confident that the company I’m part of now is on sound footing. I wasn’t at all confident of that in September 2001.