Allow me to generalize a bit
The Finnish people are probably one of the best R&D people in the world. We are persistent, trustworthy and loyal.
The American people are probably the best salesmen in the world. They are extrovert and audacious.
The Finnish mentality creates a number of technology startups every year. With a few years of government subsidized R&D we usually have a product at hand. Then we start selling our products.
The American mentality creates startups with a dream. They decide what they want to do and then sell their idea to investors to make it happen:
The startup: We can generate a million per year cash flow with this new solution.
The investor: But it will take you years to develop that technology and it is very risky and could cost millions.
The startup: Don’t worry, we’ve found a Finnish company that will do it for $10,000.
Don’t be the engineer. Be the salesman.
That was well said.
The companies and startups spend way too much time to make their product perfect in their vision. But as hard it is to believe, it’s not the vision of the developer that counts, but the vision of the customer. And that’s what differentiates a salesman from an engineer.
Love the low end, that way your product can live up to its potential.
Great example Petteri! 🙂
Agree with Bisnes. One of the best examples of that is actually the original iPhone, I think. I mean, a Finnish engineer would never have shipped that product – lacking a good camera, MMS, 3G… not by a Finnish firm, ever. And yet, Apple decided it was good enough – and made tons of money with the product, and then improved it over time.
Being passionate about sales, I have to comment also that many people and firms still view sales with the connotations of used car salesmen – somebody pushing you crap you could do without. In Finland especially we need better sales and marketing skills, and the place to start is the raising the principal image of the profession.
Good sales(wo)men do not need to be extrovert. Audacity is definitely plus, but in complex sales (i.e. deals onvolving no single decision maker, rather often 3 or more) those who love their own voice aren’t’ going very far at all. Technology sales isn’t a place for trash-talking “visionaries”. But Finnish startups definitely need to catch the positive mentality and believe in themselves in order to sell in their products and ideas, i.e. not to start pitches with apologizing that “we’re just a 4-man startup from Finland…”
Thanks for your comments Bisnes and Miikka. What makes the difference is the passion. It’s the passion about being sincerely interested in your customers’ needs that makes the product succeed.
Extrovert was probably too strong a word to be used here. Sales is also much more about passion than about skills as a speaker. As we know, selling is 20 % speech and 80 % listening.
But the bottom line really is the mental challenge. Even an engineer can sell promiseware if they have the balls to do it with passion.
@Miikka: Actually you’re looking at iPhone from the wrong direction.
Think about iPhone being an iPod Talk, a top of the line iPod with added functionalities.
The point is, that iPhone is very much what a Finnish firm would put out. And productwise Apple in general is very comparable to what a Finnish firm would do.
The secret of Apples success isn’t in its products, but in its relation to customers. If you want to want to learn something from Apple, don’t look at the products, look at the customers.
Interesting post and comments.
As an American who worked in sales for 7 years for a Finnish software company I have mixed feelings on the points of view here.
Finnish IT acumen is exceptional. Sales and Marketing capabilities tend to be below average if compared to other global players.
In my own experience, I was quite successful in sales precisely because I had the quality and the “sisu” of the Finnish engineers behind me. That combined with my ability to gain the customer’s trust proved to be an almost perfect combination.
Don’t get so obsessed with the sales part though that you start selling ideas and vaporware…there’s too much of that. You still need to have something solid to base your case on.
One of the key areas that the smaller Finnish firms that I encountered could improve is in taking more calculated risks.
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