Building great products is awesome, right? I mean, it’s obvious: once you have a great product, investors start throwing money at you, clients start biting your hand off and the Queen invites you for tea. Awesome, right? Right. Except it doesn’t work that way. From my experience, you need a great product, a killer product team, perfect timing and as many sales people as you can afford. And you need ALL of them otherwise you’re f***ed, as a good friend of mine would say.
You need a killer product team. Of course, if you have a great product chances are that your team rocks as well, but this is key: your great product might not be so great in 12 months from now (cough, Digg, cough), so you need to have a team that constantly innovates.
It’s all about timing. So, you’ve built the killer bread-slicer, ha? Awesome! Except nobody wants it because most of us can’t be bothered so we buy sliced bread already (stupid example, I know, but you get the point). And I’ve also seen quite a few startups that ran out of money before the timing was right. So before you go out and build something revolutionary, make sure it’s not too revolutionary. Or too 1999.
Great products DON’T sell themselves. Really, they don’t. Ever. So build the best sales team you can afford. I mean – learn from the best: Out of 2000 employees at Facebook, 700 are sales people. And I hear Groupon is even more extreme, with 70% of its staff working in Sales. Needless to say more, I think.
On a different note, you can also build a great product and maybe you get lucky: investors will start throwing money at you, clients will bite your hands off and the Queen will send you a letter. But I’m not a big fan of luck.