By Arun Lal, Co-Founder, Contiq
Scientists estimate there are over 1,000 exoplanets (planets in the universe with earth-like conditions) discovered to-date. One idea I have been obsessed with is what if we magically go to one of these uninhabited planets and decided to start a new civilization from scratch (let’s call it “Zovo”), with the benefit of all the experience and technology from our own planet, what would enterprise sales look like on this new planet?
Would we even need to sell anything? Would the notion of “customers” exist? Would needs be met instantly based on precise predictive insights? Would “hyper-personalization” be the norm? In a series of posts, I plan to share my thoughts on these questions.
This thought experiment and the problems we (“we” explained later) saw across enterprise sales and marketing at Microsoft, VMware, EMC was the background around the genesis of Contiq ( a mashup of Content + IQ).
Contiq is a brainchild of two, Arun and Rahul and many more later (our wonderful team). We absolutely hate going over our backgrounds but to keep the conversation going let’s go ahead and introduce ourselves. I’m Arun, I did product management and marketing at companies big (Microsoft, VMware) and small (AskMe, Climate) where I grappled with this beast called B2B / enterprise sales and marketing. My co-founder and friend, Rahul, did the same at companies big (Intel, EMC, VMware) and small (mini-startups). You guessed right, we met at VMware while working in the same team many years ago at a cook-off. We both agreed enterprise selling is broken and needs complete rewiring over Gin n’ Tonics. In a slightly inebriated state at a VMworld party, Contiq was born.
Ok, now back to Zovo and let’s figure out what systems we would need if we could reboot enterprise selling. Let’s start with a foundational question: why does selling (and sales professionals) exist? Can’t we just forego sales and salespeople for good? Especially since most people don’t like being sold to, ask any of the ~35M B2B salespeople the number of calls, emails, “accidental” encounters it takes into having someone pay any attention. Makes you wonder why selling exists and whether it needs to be ported to Zovo? Okay just to be fair to sellers, let’s think about the value a salesperson adds in the buying experience. Clearly, 1) salespeople contextualize, quantify and amplify your felt and unfelt pain (the good ones at least). 2) Let’s be honest, most people are pretty lazy unless you are the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg et al., we all just get comfortable with our problems, we love our status quo. Unless you have someone willing to do the mental hard work to help you 1) realize/feel a problem and solve it, most humans would stay put. Enter the salesperson. The quest for problem-solving, panacea, simple solutions to complex problems is as human as the urge to eat fresh popcorn and M&Ms. So in conclusion, my view is: selling is really a proxy for problem identification and solution and given how innate problem identification/solving is to human nature… selling would need to be part of Zovo…hold on…a customer actually is returning my call…praise the lord… brb