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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 26. At Times Not Losing Is as Important as Winning

Customer Validation

E.piphany was an 11-month-old startup with 31 people and on fire. We had closed four $100,000 deals for our customer relationship management software.

Joe Dinucci, our VP of Sales, was hot on the trail of our next big order. He had just demoed our product to his friend, the CFO of Autodesk. After seeing the demo, the CFO walked Joe over to the office of Autodesk’s VP of Sales, and said to her, “I think this product might solve your sales reporting problem.”

After a demo, she agreed it would.

Joe came back to our company excited. If we won the Autodesk account, it could be worth half a million dollars or more.

They Have a Problem and Know It

At the time Autodesk’s sales organization was frustrated with its IT department. It took weeks or months for Sales to get financial, sales results, and customer reports from IT. Autodesk’s VP of Sales fit the profile of a earlyvangelist: she understood she had a pressing problem (couldn’t get the timely data needed to forecast sales), she was searching for a solution (beating up the Autodesk CIO on a weekly basis to solve her problem), she had a timetable for a solution (now), and her company had committed budget dollars to solve this problem (they’ll spend anything to stop missing forecasts.)

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A Match Made in Heaven

For the next several weeks, the entire E.piphany ...

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