This is easily a classic conversation. Brian Koppelman (of Rounders, Billions fame) sat down with Marc Andressen to talk about selling creativity, systems thinking, and so much more. So amazing. Read here.
Brian: But I guess what I’m asking is, how do you learn to — Do you think one can learn to do both things? To be a creator, founder/creator, and the salesman of your own work? Like, how does one learn to do that?
Marc: Yes. Well, so first of all… put it this way — this is, again, where I think systems thinking is actually helpful — ao, actually, we have a lot of this, so we have a lot of sort of founders who are like classical engineers, and they’re sort of classical introverts and the idea of having to go, kind of, you know, sell is like anathema, like, the idea. You know, they’ve got these kind of, I would say, misperceptions of the salesman as somebody who’s wearing a shiny suit <Brian: Yes, perfect!> selling somebody something that they don’t need.
And so, we have a couple of responses to that. We have a specific response to that, which is actually the role of sales is (at least in our industry) is not to sell something you don’t need — it’s actually to help somebody buy what they actually do need. And we can have a long conversation about that. The really good sales people in Silicon Valley who make a lot of money become very personally bonded to their customers; they end up going to their customers’, you know, weddings, to their kids’ weddings — like, they become like, very close allies to the careers of their customers. We can have a long conversation about that. It’s a real form of value-add to the customer.
But even deeper than that. The thing I tell the engineers is, look, dealing with customers, it’s another systems problem. Like, you are the master of solving a systems problem, which is how to get the computer to do what you want. Like, people aren’t computers, they’re different, but there is a system for dealing people. You can engineer a system for dealing with people. And actually, when you work with top-end sales people, what you find is they have incredibly elaborate, like, very real systems. Like, very, very, very thought-through kind of abstract systems of how they basically run like, a large-scale sales campaign and how they deal with the customer.