What’s the best way to do cold calling?

Jane Porter (Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. janeroseporter.com)
Seven Secrets to Cold Calling Success

Plan Ahead. Who will you be calling? When will you be placing your calls? These are questions you should answer the day before you make the calls.

Jane Porter (Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. janeroseporter.com)
Seven Secrets to Cold Calling Success

Seek Out a Personal Connection. You should try to find a personal connection with your prospects… the same alma mater or… a past connection with the same company… [or] a common interest.

Jane Porter (Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. janeroseporter.com)
Seven Secrets to Cold Calling Success

Get Information Before You Give It. You should ask lots of questions during the call rather than immediately try to sell your product or service. Learn about your prospect’s business needs first, so you can more effectively tailor your pitch.

Jane Porter (Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. janeroseporter.com)
Seven Secrets to Cold Calling Success

Get Out of Your Chair and in Front of a Mirror. A mirror will make you smile and smiling will make you more confident. [Also] standing up when making calls.

Jane Porter (Jane Porter is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. janeroseporter.com)
Seven Secrets to Cold Calling Success

Use Referrals in Your Voice Mail Message. More often than not, you’ll be reaching voice mail… Try to find a common connection you can mention in the message you leave…

What’s the best way to create a virality strategy?

Stan Chudnovsky (Head of Product for Messaging at Facebook)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

The most powerfully growing products do three things at once: 1. They make you look smart to the people you invite. 2. They give real value to you when the people you invite join. 3. They give real value to the people you’ve invited once they sign up.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Sustainable growth vs. growth hacking | A Founder’s Notebook

Virality matters because this is how good products have always spread. You don’t need a share button; just a truly compelling value proposition and a brand that your customers are proud to represent.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
The Low Viral Coefficient of SaaS, And Why That’s Just Fine | SaaStr

At EchoSign, from the date of first contract send to New Signer, to how long it took for that new account to convert to paid, it took 8 months, on average. For the first year, that was incredibly painful. Because we had so few customers in the early days, that even after 8 months, they could only beget us a handful. It really wasn’t until the end of Year 2 that viral really kicked in. That’s just the math of a low viral coefficient

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
The Low Viral Coefficient of SaaS, And Why That’s Just Fine | SaaStr

Now, if you’re building a free B2C app, where you need tens of millions of users to get to Initial Scale, [having a low virial coefficient is] a disaster.

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

Virality gets you in the door at an enterprise, but it doesn’t get you the deal. It got us the meeting, but then we needed a sales team to talk about security and value proposition.

What’s the best way to create a successful small company?

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Default Alive or Default Dead?

When I talk to a startup that’s been operating for more than 8 or 9 months, the first thing I want to know is almost always the same. Assuming their expenses remain constant and their revenue growth is what it’s been over the last several months, do they make it to profitability on the money they have left? Or to put it more dramatically, by default do they live or die? If the company is default alive, we can talk about ambitious new things they … (read more)

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Growth and Government – Sam Altman

The first piece of startup wisdom I heard was increasing your sales will fix all problems. This turns out to be another way of phrasing Paul Graham’s point that growth is critical.

David Cancel (CEO, Co-Founder at Drift)
3 Startup Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

Believe me failing sucks really bad but there are no repeatable patterns that lead to startup success. None. Stop looking for one and just f***ing do it

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Before the Startup

It’s not that important to know a lot about startups. The way to succeed in a startup is not to be an expert on startups, but to be an expert on your users and the problem you’re solving for them.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
The separation of advice and money – Sam Altman

Great advice is really important; some founders don’t appreciate this initially (I was guilty of it) but always learn to. But great advice does not have to come from venture capitalists; it often comes from people like former founders.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is – AVC

I’ve heard a lot of ideas over the years that, like this options strike price plan, sound too good to be true. And in most cases, they were just that.
I have developed a deep skepticism around anything that sounds like a free lunch. As the saying goes, there is no such thing.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Economic Inequality

Determination is the most important factor in deciding between success and failure, which in startups tend to be sharply differentiated.

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

It gets harder, not easier

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
By endurance we conquer – Sam Altman

You can win by endurance. Most startups don’t die at the hands of a competitor. It’s more often something like an internal implosion, the founders giving up, or not building something people want.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Startups in 13 Sentences

Don’t give up. Even if you get demoralized, don’t give up. You can get surprisingly far by just not giving up. This isn’t true in all fields.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup advice, briefly – Sam Altman

Become formidable. Also become tough. The road ahead is going to be painful and make you doubt yourself many, many times. Work really hard. Everyone wants a secret to success other than this; if it exists, I haven’t found it yet.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Advice for 2013: Deliver On Your Promises – AVC

There has been a lot of discussion out there about the Series A crunch, the consumer sector falling out of favor, VCs getting more conservative, the need to focus on revenues instead of users, and so on and so forth. At times like this I think it is critical to focus hard on the most important things for your business. That could be revenues but may not be. That could be user traction but may not be.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
You Are Not Your Work – AVC

Failure can sow the seeds of success. It did for me. It did for Mark Pincus when he turned the failure of Tribe into the success of Zynga. It has done the same for countless others. But to get through failure, you need to be able to separate who you are and what your work is.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

If I had to distill my advice about how to operate down to only two words, I’d pick focus and intensity. These words seem to really apply to the best founders I know.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Taking the Mystery out of Scaling a Company – Ben’s Blog

If you want to do something that matters, then you are going to have to learn the black art of scaling a human organization.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Capital And Success – AVC

It is what you build, how you go to market with it, and how you monetize it that will determine your success. By all means raise money, from USV if at all possible, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that raising money is the secret to success. It is decidedly not.

Dr. Dana Ardi (Corporate Anthropology Advisors)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Dr. Dana Ardi – AVC

Of the four core qualities that he has observed make up most successful entrepreneurs and business-building, they know when to dial up…or dial town. They know when to emphasize passion, lower the pitch on assertion and bypass analytical smarts in favor of creative thinking or relational skills. In short, they’re as fluid and adaptable as the businesses they run.

What’s the best way to compensate your sales employee?

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

Just keep the balance of their base and variable pay set. So if they want an increase in their base, they also need an increase in their quota that they need to hit. Do they really want that added stress?

Andy Swan (Three time financial tech entreprenuer)
Commission plans — how to get them right | A Founder’s Notebook

Embrace the idea of salespeople making more than you do.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Commission plans — how to get them right | A Founder’s Notebook

The key is to sit down with finance, product and marketing with the budget in hand and ask the questions; what do we need to sell by the end of the year? Once the incentives have been nailed and properly aligned, make the plan dead, stupid, simple. A plan is simple stupid if a sales person knows exactly what they will be paid on a deal without looking it up. In addition, all plans must have accelerators. Accelerators are when more commission is p… (read more)

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
5 Ways to reduce cost of sales

Many companies still use gross revenue to measure sales performance. Focusing solely on revenue, however, can easily put a company in a position where you’re losing money on each sale and trying to make up the difference by selling in volume. Since profit, not revenue, is the point of selling in the first place, it only makes sense to measure sales accordingly. A big advantage of this approach is that it reduces the temptation to discount (a hidd… (read more)

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

10% until they hit their quota and then 15% once they’ve met it

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

50% base and 50% variable, assuming they hit their quota. Set their comission to 10% until their quota is met and then 15% once they’ve met it. Therefore their quota should be 10x their base salary (assuming the 10% comission rate).