Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 2: Competitive Advantage

Fear and Greed

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Knowing this in my heart of hearts, after 3 years, I still decided to accept a position as an account executive. Why? Because of ambition, greed, and stupidity (mostly stupidity). Account executives ruled the roost (position power), and rightfully so. Nothing in business happens until a sale is made. If you closed a few big deals, you could be in high cotton.

It was an outside long shot, but I was a born gambler. I was a kid who had grown up in the streets, and I figured that no matter what, I would always land on my feet. Not this time. I had gotten damn good at technical marketing, could wax poetic in front of an informed crowd and be convincing, but marketing ain’t sales. When you are selling someone a million dollar solution, you have to look ‘em in the eye and convince them that this deal is in their best interest. I couldn’t do it because I didn’t believe it. And even if I could have, there was no way on God’s earth that I was going to endure these long sales cycles. (A sales cycle of a year or more was not uncommon.) I didn’t even like hardware!

I started feeling an impending sense of doom. I was going to fail at this and there wasn’t a fucking thing I could do about it (or so I thought). I went into a severe state of depression and had to take a medical leave of absence for 3 months. I never went back.

Okay, Carlos, so what is the moral of the story? We already knew that you were a loser. The moral of the story is that honesty counts, professionally and personally. A disingenuous (at best) value proposition is not sustainable. Period. A bait and switch strategy won’t work. The marketplace is much too savvy. At best, it will lead to Pyrrhic victories and short-term gains.

IBM is an example of a company that has apparently cracked the code. They are wildly successful selling both big iron and professional services. I have no special insights into IBM, but they have most certainly managed to achieve success by having two totally separate business units.

Big Computer Company eventually bought Northwest Computer Company. For the talented employees of Northwest Computer Company, things did not work out so well. But they most certainly did for the shareholders.

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