Sales Can’t Save You!

Blackberry is gonna be picked up for 4.7 billion dollars by Fairfax Financial. That’s down from an all-time market cap of 83 billion in 2008. That’s a serious decline in value. Ouch! Blackberry’s woes started in 2007, but they really starting tanking in 2010.  Here’s why. Their product began to suck.

Blackberry was the shit for most of the 2000’s. They could be seen everywhere. They had the best product. But in 2007 something funny happened.  Apple launched the Iphone, a better product and the world shifted. Blackberry said it was fad and that it wasn’t going to be a business device.

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Fad? Notice on this chart where Blackberry’s fortunes start to change. Yup, when better products started coming out.

In 2010, Google launched Android, another better product. It was quickly adopted by Samsung, and other Asian players. By 2011, Android shipments were outpacing Blackberry and the free fall had begun.

Blackberry is finished because their product couldn’t compete. They didn’t deliver a product that people wanted. Now, they’re sucking their last breath and there is nothing they can do except create a new product. Sales couldn’t save them. There wasn’t enough sales and marketing dollars or time in the world that could have changed this outcome. It simply came down to the product.

Here is the deal and listen carefully.

Sales can not save you!

I’ve written about this before.  The days of sales people being able to outsell a shitty product or service is over. There is too much information out there.  Customers and prospects are too informed to be shielded from your product deficiencies.  Social media rockets product reviews and customer complaints through internet at light speed. Shitty products can no longer hide.

There was such a time when sales could save a company. Throw a bunch of really good, aggressive sales people at it and you could keep going.  You could actually build a business around an average to less than average product or service if you had a bad ass sales team. But, not any more. The product has to deliver, be agile and meet your customers needs.

Blackberry didn’t have the product, sales suffered, now they are about to die.

Listen up, there is a big, BIG message here. Product leads the sale, not the other way around. Those days are over. It’s time companies get this. It’s time they re-organize their product teams to address this change in the selling environment. It’s time to change how product teams are measured. It’s time to evaluate how product teams are compensated,  how product development is done and how innovation is managed.  Most companies are set up with sales leading the charge and success or failure of a product goes through the sales organization. Well, not so fast. The importance of arming your sales team with the best product you possibly can, has NEVER been more critical. You can no longer expect sales to deliver for product. Product has to be able to deliver for themselves. Sales is now the multiplier, taking a good or great product further than it could on it’s own.

This shift if monumental. I’ve seen it coming for awhile and it’s only going to get worse. The speed of product development and the time it takes to get new products to market with substantially improved features and benefits is astronomical. There is no time to stand still. Expecting sales to carry an organization with a shitty or less than standard product won’t work. Those days are gone. Product has surpassed sales as the tip of the spear and it’s not going back.

If sales are down, if revenue isn’t were you want it to be, it could be sales, but before you start kicking sales around, take a good, long, hard look at your product. The problem is most likely there.

Sales is not going to save you, so don’t even try.

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