From the category archives:


On Recessions and Forest Fires

by Lilia Shirman on April 27, 2009

in Economy,Entrepreneurship

Photo by a brilliant photographer on Picasa (TJ7779)

Several weeks ago, I was driving through the mountains around Tahoe, returning from a weekend of skiing.   As we passed an area that had been devastated by a forest fire, I saw hope in the destruction.

I realized that this recession is very much like a forest fire.  Giants that had been standing for decades are suddenly gone.  Others are still standing, but have been badly singed.  The devastation seems all-encompassing and permanent.

But a closer look at the barren hillside told another story.   Forest fires have another effect that is easy to forget in times like these:   They create the space for new growth.  They are nature’s mechanism for renewal.

The recession, as painful as it is for all of us, is creating room for growth as well.    If we allow it, the difficult times will provide the space and light that are needed for new ventures to get visibility, new ideas to take root, and new ways of doing things to get tried and adopted.

How has the downturn inspired you or your company to get creative and start anew?

(Photo generously provided via Picasa by TJ from Davis, Ca)


More than once over the last few months, I’ve had the unsettling experience of meeting with a potential client, planning to discuss how I can help their company, only to to discover they are no longer with their company.  As sign of the times, to be sure.   Moving contacts create challenges at existing accounts, but opportunities elsewhere.  So what does one do when your key contact at an account suddenly isn’t at the account?

A few thoughts:

Be proactive – diversify: Cultivate multiple relationships within each account.  Follow up with people you meet in meetings or who collaborate with you during and after the sale.  Ask your sponsor or champion to make a few introductions, particularly in different departments or organizations than their own.

Follow: Social networking tools make it easy to keep in touch as people move about.  Take note of status changes that may indicate a new position, employment status, or company.

Help: This is a time when active networking and introductions are more valuable than ever – offer them. Whether its a potential employer, employee, or partner, introductions are a great way to create value and build relationships.

Follow Up: Make sure customers who have bought from you before know how you can help them deliver results as they take on new roles in new organizations.

Systematize: Your top reps already do all of the above.  Consider spiffs or other programs to make sure the new contacts make it from personal spreadsheets into your CRM systems.  Help all reps get proactive by measuring the breadth of contacts at accounts on an on-going basis. Provide simple tools like email templates to make re-connecting easier.

Comment and share your own ideas on maintaining sales contacts in these tumultuous times.

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In a tough economy, impact revenue or go home

by Lilia Shirman on March 3, 2009

in Economy

It was great to be speaking to a room full of entrepreneurs last Thursday at the TechCoire panel, Strategies to Drive Revenue in a Recession.   Gopan Madathil masterfully organized the event.  The big takeaways form our panelists (Igor Shoifot of Fotki, Rajat Paharia of Bunchball, and Vadim Rosenberg of CA) for generating revenue in this economy:

  • Listen more carefully than ever to customer requests and use them to create new revenue-generation initiatives
  • Look at the ideas you’ve accumulated but never executed. This might be the time to finally try a few.
  • Don’t walk away from customers who like what you’re offering but don’t have the budget.  Instead get creative about restructuring the deal – change payment terms, deliver in phases, start with smaller volumes, etc.
  • Always be on the lookout to great sales people – those who know how to connect and build rapport with customers.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Revenue generation is the top priority for just about any company right now.  Resuscitate stalled deals and accelerate the close by showing how you can help customer sell more.

Got more ideas for driving revenue while everyone clutches their wallet ?  Comment!