Jan 032014
Can't Sell Dope Forever

Can’t Sell Dope Forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m pretty much against using my blog for an out and out promotion.  I do not sell things here, nor do I try to market any companies including my own.  The hordes of people coming to this blog all the time do so because they are constantly wondering what I think about Lean and Agile stuff, and I hate to dilute that by pushing a particular product, service, or organization even if it would be advantageous to me in some way.  I’m not trying to sell anything, including myself.  That sounded weird, but you know what I mean.

I’m going to make a bit of an exception in this case, though, partly to help out my omnicompetent buddy Risa, and partly because I have a strong sense of quality control when it comes to people that I work with.  If you are reading this, right now, then I already know a lot about your respective levels of quality.  I’m just going to leave that ambiguity there.

Netchemia is always hiring these days, it seems, in virtually every department, but we’re especially angling for Market Development Representatives (MDRs, which does not stand for Massively Dope Revenue-generators like I thought).  Our original copy for these job postings looks like this:

Netchemia is looking for Market Development Representatives who demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Highly competitive and motivated by money
  • Ability to handle rejection
  • Relatable and outgoing personality, especially over the phone
  • Desire to build foundational sales experience

Check out our Careers page for more information and to apply!

Personally, I think the exclamation point at the end really makes the whole thing pop.

Now, you’re probably looking at this and thinking, “Those first two things sound like every guy ever, and the whole thing together kind of sounds like telemarketing.”  And I can forgive you for thinking that, because it sort of sounds like you’ll be doing some variety of sales over the phone.  It mostly sounds that way because that’s pretty much what you’d be doing.  But however it might look like telemarketing at first glance, it differs from that profession we all love to hate in a number of important ways.

1. No Cold Calling

When I think of sales and the phone, I think of someone calling me during dinner and saying something along the lines of, “Hello, Mr. Ledgerweed.  I’m Joey Bananas from Phone Company X.  I know you’re interested in saving money, and I’m not interested in pausing, so buckle in and get ready to feel several Gs worth of money-saving forces.”

In this scenario, Joey obviously has no idea who I am or even if I happen to be interested in changing phone service.  All he knows about me are: A) I have a phone, and B) I am an entity capable of speaking on one – both things he realized in the first few seconds of calling me.  It’s the verbal equivalent of getting junk mail, if the junk mail could somehow attach itself to your face for fifteen minutes and read itself to you.  You could literally be anyone.  Joey is just calling numbers, and destiny brought you together.

Our MDRs contact people at various levels of school district administration.  They are people who know us.  They are people who are friends and colleagues with other people who love Netchemia’s stuff.  They are the people we drink with at conferences and make fun of boring keynote speeches with.  They are not random people who just might randomly be interested in K-12 administration products; they are K-12 administrators, and it may surprise you to know that intensive market research has shown that K-12 administrators are the people most interested in K-12 administration software.

I’m not gonna lie – I’m not saying everyone you call be will be all, “Praise the hammer of Thor you called me!  Yes, I have plenty of time to talk!  And when can one of your Account Executives get in touch with me to begin my journey to efficiency?  My life changes TODAY!”  There’s a reason it’s important to be able to deal with the fact that a relatively decent number of people will not have time to talk to you right now, or have already completed their budgeting process for the year, or have administrative assistants with a touch of sociopathy.  But you are not calling random people who have never heard of you to create a demand that doesn’t exist.

2. Sales Experience Without Selling

Most of the actual selling, dealing with objections, and pyrotechnics are handled by Account Executives.  It will be your main job to talk to K-12 administrators and get these two crazy kids together.

If you are trying to get your foot in the door in sales, this is a way to get used to meeting new people, listening to them talk about their situation, figuring out a good fit, and making the best decision to help a prospective client, and you do all this without the added pressure of being primarily responsible for closing a sale.  Sales can’t happen without you, though, and you will be learning and developing sales chops as you go.

3. Dan’s Pretty Great

Dan is the majordomo of the MDR squadron, and several of our employees can attest to his mentorship, leadership abilities, and genuine care for the people who serve with him.  He’s a lot like Yoda, if Yoda were human, spoke normally, had no supernatural powers, was in Marketing, and was very much unlike Yoda.  You will grow as a person and a professional working with Dan, and if you are even remotely interested in a sales-based profession, the opportunity to work with him is reason enough to apply right now.

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Dec 272013
A Garlando style table with a game in progress

A Garlando style table with a game in progress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been pretty quiet after Samhain this year, maintaining a laser-like focus on getting version 1.0 of one of Netchemia’s new products ready for the new year.  My birthday (Scorpios UNITE) and Thanksgiving slipped past with barely a nod.  Originally, I meant for my return to social media to be a Christmasy post, but the sad truth is that I was sick on Christmas and celebrated the incarnation of our Lord by eating reheated pizza by myself and watching Family Guy.  This is not the stuff of which epic posts are made.

In the absence of holiday-related material, I spent some time reflecting on why I enjoy working at Netchemia so much.  After all, I’ve worked in almost every .NET development shop in Kansas City either as a consultant or a full-time employee, so what makes Netchemia different?  There are many reasons, but most of them boil down to three, main ones.

NOTE: None of these reasons have anything to do with foosball, which is a game specifically designed to lower my self-esteem.  My only notable foosball tactic is to throw a spare foosball in my opponent’s face and hope that gives me enough time to score.

3. Kaizen

Netchemia has been up and running in some form or another for about ten years and has racked up around 80 employees (probably 90 by the time I finish writing this if the growth rate holds), but if you spend some time there, it very much feels like a startup.

Everyone in every department is constantly working to hone their craft, including upper management.  There are no sacred cows.  There is no “this is how we’ve always done it.”  Running lean, being agile, and continuously improving are elements baked into the culture long before I got there.  This has ramifications for software development, definitely, but it also rigorously applies to sales, marketing, customer service, and operations.

Challenging others (respectfully) is encouraged and sought after in employees.  Passionate debate is frequent and welcome, all done in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.  You can march over to the CEO’s cubicle and tell him you don’t believe we’re making good decisions, and you’ll get treated to lunch instead of fired (this is how I get my lunch these days – inventing challenges).  When was the last time your company shared its financials compared to its goals with all the employees?  Netchemia does that every month.  Ideas and innovation about any aspect of the company from any quarter is much desired.

2. They’re a real team.

Although most companies would say they operate as a team, they really don’t.  Most departments in companies would also say they operate as a team but don’t.  What you usually have is a group of silos in a company that hand work off to one another, and you have a department where everyone is doing the same kind of thing, but they do it separately.

Netchemia is perhaps the only place I’ve ever worked at where I would call the entire organization a legitimate team.  Everyone from every department routinely communicates with the others on virtually a daily basis to move company goals across the finish line.  Almost daily, I talk with someone in sales, marketing, customer service, and upper management for the specific purpose of helping each other accomplish our work.  Within my own department, any feature of reasonable size typically has two or more developers on it working together and collaboratively to complete that feature.

I realize this may not appeal to everyone.  Some people like to be off on their own working alone, and I sometimes like that as well for a change of pace.  But generally speaking, complexity in delivering business value is best addressed by teams, and I love the level of collaboration and teamwork that doesn’t just exist at Netchemia but is intrinsically required to do your job and help others do theirs.  The environment is hyper-collaborative.

1. The people are awesome.

This is not to imply that there aren’t awesome people all over Kansas City, because there are.  The people I consider colleagues, friends, and enemies are all high-caliber types and work for or run a wide variety of companies.  But there is something about the crazily intensive hiring process at Netchemia that has produced a certain characteristic batch of individuals.

First of all, the overwhelming majority of employees are attractive.  Now, this fact doesn’t really mean a lot to me, but the implication does.  This means that, statistically speaking, my employment at Netchemia provides very good odds that I’m also attractive, so that’s an ego boost right there.  I may be one of the exceptions, but it would be really rude to point that out.

The main thing, though, is that most of the people who make it through the hiring gauntlet turn out to have several of the following characteristics: entrepreneurial, intelligent, articulate, energetic, thoughtful, sacrificial, dependable, competent, tough, hilarious (sometimes unintentionally), and they love the company as much as you do, if not more.  They are the kind of people that motivational authors encourage you to surround yourself with.  Being around them is a motivation to go to company events outside of work hours.

Sure, the organization has its weaknesses and some days you may not like everyone equally well, but for me, the company is a perfect fit.

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