Items tagged with: sales
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19690812
Posted by hprotagonist (karma: 7251)
Post stats: Points: 136 - Comments: 73 - 2019-04-18T13:27:58Z
#HackerNews #discovery #drug #for #halting #ibm #sales #tool #watson
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19684688
Posted by dredmorbius (karma: 24000)
Post stats: Points: 199 - Comments: 46 - 2019-04-17T17:41:04Z
#HackerNews #concerns #down #facial-recognition #human #microsoft #rights #sales #turned
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Tesla's Model 3 is giving a jolt to Norway's car market. Also in play: Norway's lucrative incentives for owners of electric vehicles.
Article word count: 655
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19566051
Posted by reddotX (karma: 2660)
Post stats: Points: 101 - Comments: 65 - 2019-04-03T18:46:51Z
#HackerNews #cars #electric #hit #making #march #nearly #norway #percent #record #sales
A Tesla Model S electric car leaves a service center in Oslo, Norway, in 2018.
Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images
Electric vehicles are now the norm in Norway when it comes to new car sales, accounting for 58 percent of all car sales in March. Teslaʼs mass market Model 3 was especially popular, accounting for nearly 30 percent of new passenger vehicle sales, the Norwegian Information Council for Road Traffic, or OFV, says.
The figures reflect Norwayʼs desire to move away from fossil-fuel vehicles — with help from lucrative government incentives for owners of electric vehicles.
Overall, 18,375 new passenger cars were registered in Norway last month, the OFV says. Of those vehicles, 10,732 were rated with zero emissions — a gain of about 100 percent from the previous March. And nearly all of those vehicles are electric (four are hydrogen-powered).
Norwegian car buyers registered more than 5,300 Tesla Model 3 sedans in March — a record for a single car model in one month, the OFV says. In that same period, no other carmaker had more than 10 percent of sales.
In addition to the all-electric vehicles, 3,469 new hybrid cars were sold, reflecting a 10 percent drop from March 2018.
As Reuters reports, "In 2018, Norwayʼs fully electric car sales rose to a record 31.2 percent market share from 20.8 percent in 2017, far ahead of any other nation, and buyers had to wait as producers struggled to keep up with demand."
Norway is well-positioned to reduce carbon emissions by a transition to electric vehicles. For one thing, it draws nearly all of its electricity from a network of hydroelectric power plants, according to its government. Hydroelectric power is cleaner than electricity powered by coal or natural gas.
On average, Norwegians are among the richest people in the world, meaning many of the countryʼs citizens can afford a new electric car. In the 25-year period from 1992 to 2017, Norwayʼs gross national income per capita more than tripled to nearly $64,000, according to the World Bank.
And then there are the incentives. For years, Norwegians who opted for a zero-emissions car enjoyed a wealth of benefits, including an exemption from sales, import and road taxes.
Until recently, emissions-free vehicles could also be parked for free and were immune to all toll and ferry charges. Those policies have changed, but owners of electric and other zero-emissions cars still face only up to 50 percent of the going rate for tolls and parking.
There is a paradox in Norwayʼs rush to become a green power pioneer. It is a significant producer and supplier of fossil fuels to the global market, and the countryʼs wealth has been boosted by its rich energy reserves: Norway is one of the worldʼs largest exporters of natural gas.
The U.S. hasnʼt embraced electric vehicles with the same enthusiasm as Norway. But sales are picking up. The industry site InsideEVs reports that they hit a new high in 2018, with 361,307 vehicles sold — a sharp rise from 2017ʼs tally of 199,826 vehicles.
But with persistently low gas prices, many Americans see no financial reason to make the switch to an electric vehicle. And U.S. consumers also have concerns about going electric, such as the availability of charging stations.
Looking at the broader picture, Wards Automotive notes, "of the 17.215 million light vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2018, 16.042 million of them had just a traditional gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine. Another 496,000 had diesel engines in 2018, leaving 677,000 alternative-powertrain models sold."
But the U.S. electric vehicle market does have at least one thing in common with Norway: nearly all of the recent U.S. gains can be attributed to Tesla and its new Model 3.
In 2018, Norway was an important market for U.S. exports of new cars and light trucks, with more than $821 million in sales — representing the 10th-largest market by dollar amount, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.
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The disclosures about the consulting firm are part of the Massachusetts attorney general’s suit against the pharmaceutical giant, which is accused of misleading doctors and patients about the safety…
Article word count: 886
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19063829
Posted by seapunk (karma: 1068)
Post stats: Points: 135 - Comments: 35 - 2019-02-02T16:31:07Z
\#HackerNews #advised #how #lawsuit #mckinsey #opioid #pharma #purdue #sales #says #turbocharge
People who lost loved ones to opioid overdoses demonstrated outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn., last year.CreditCreditJessica Hill/Associated Press
By Michael Forsythe and Walt Bogdanich
The world’s most prestigious management-consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, has been drawn into a national reckoning over who bears responsibility for the opioid crisis that has devastated families and communities across America.
In legal papers released in unredacted form on Thursday, the Massachusetts attorney general said McKinsey had helped the maker of OxyContin fan the flames of the opioid epidemic. McKinsey’s consultants, the attorney general revealed, had instructed the drug company, Purdue Pharma, on how to “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin, how to counter efforts by drug enforcement agents to reduce opioid use, and were part of a team that looked at how “to counter the emotional messages from mothers with teenagers that overdosed” on the drug.
The McKinsey disclosures are part of a lawsuit Massachusetts filed against Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of misleading doctors and patients about the safety of opioid use. Even when the company knew patients were addicted and dying, it still tried to boost sales of opioids, the lawsuit alleges, adding, “All the while, Purdue peddled falsehoods to keep patients away from safer alternatives.”
Purdue Pharma helped plant the seeds of the opioid epidemic through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin. More than 130 people die each day in the United States — 47,000 in 2017 — after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As the death toll from opioid abuse has climbed, the cast of those who are alleged to have contributed to the crisis — manufacturers, distributors, doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and regulatory agencies — has grown. McKinsey is the newest and perhaps most surprising actor in this drama.
“From our initial review of the complaint, it appears that some of the references to McKinsey’s work lack context, including references to McKinsey that appear to be second- or third-hand,” McKinsey said in a statement, adding that it was continuing to review the document.
The suit, filed last year, names several Purdue executives and board members as well as members of the Sackler family, which controls the privately held company. McKinsey is mentioned 71 times in the 275-page complaint. The unredacted version was first reported by ProPublica and the medical news website Stat.
In 2009, McKinsey wrote a report for Purdue Pharma saying that new sales tactics would increase sales of OxyContin by $200 million to $400 million annually and “suggested sales ‘drivers’ based on the ideas that opioids reduce stress and make patients more optimistic and less isolated,” according to the lawsuit.
It was that year that Craig Landau, then Purdue’s chief medical officer and now its chief executive, had an email exchange that included a McKinsey consultant about how to counter mothers whose teenagers had overdosed on OxyContin. The solution: bring in patients to emphasize how the drug helps to relieve pain.
In 2013, amid the rapidly intensifying opioid crisis, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department reached a settlement with Walgreens, the second-biggest American pharmacy chain. Walgreens agreed to new procedures to crack down on illegal prescriptions. In a report to Purdue Pharma, McKinsey said that “deep examination of Purdue’s available pharmacy purchasing data shows that Walgreens has reduced its units by 18%.”
According to the lawsuit, McKinsey recommended that Purdue “lobby Walgreens’ leaders to loosen up.”
McKinsey also recommended that Purdue redirect its sales force to focus on doctors who were especially prolific prescribers of OxyContin, according to the suit. One slide made public by the attorney general’s office, attributed to McKinsey, focused on one doctor in the town of Wareham, Mass., who almost doubled his annual output of OxyContin prescriptions after a big increase in visits from Purdue sales representatives.
If doctors resisted, McKinsey recommended that Purdue employ “patient pushback,” getting patients to lobby for OxyContin, according to the suit.
In a statement, Purdue said that the Massachusetts attorney general’s office “offers little evidence to support its sweeping legal claims.” The company also said that the lawsuit mischaracterized McKinsey’s work with Purdue.
On a chat site where participants must have a McKinsey email address to register for the company’s discussion room, several expletive-laced expressions of outrage over the revelations of McKinsey’s work with Purdue were mixed with comments about the responsibility to serve the client’s bottom line within moral and ethical boundaries.
“Then, of course it’s ok to maximize shareholder value, seek profits!,” one person wrote. “But not at all costs, not at the cost of our moral values and our society’s well being.”
Another person’s post — like all 42 entries about Purdue and McKinsey posted by midday Friday, it was anonymous — reproduced a bullet point from McKinsey’s values statement stating that the company will “observe high ethical standards.”
That is the second bullet point printed on the framed poster listing McKinsey’s mission and values that graces the 21st-floor lobby of McKinsey’s home office in Midtown Manhattan. The first reads: “put client interests ahead of the Firm’s.”
In 2018, after it spent years advising Purdue Pharma on how to increase sales of OxyContin, McKinsey published a report titled: “Why we need bolder action to combat the opioid epidemic.”
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: Suit Says Firm Played Role in Opioid Crisis. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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I’ve hated enterprise sales since long before I started Puppet. I just didn’t know why.
Article word count: 2512
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19007221
Posted by aberoham (karma: 1418)
Post stats: Points: 191 - Comments: 34 - 2019-01-26T17:24:24Z
\#HackerNews #battle #enterprise #losing #sales #with
I’ve hated enterprise sales since long before I started Puppet. I just didn’t know why.
Photo by Tim Trad
You can either be a good example or a horrible warning. When it comes to enterprise sales, I had two horrible warnings before I started Puppet.
In 2000, I worked at Bluestar, a business DSL startup in Nashville. Pretty much everything that can go wrong with a startup did with this one: Founder was pushed out the week I started (I swear it wasn’t my fault), they raised too much money ($450m) and then spent it badly (e.g., on hardware that didn’t work and on salespeople that didn’t sell), they brought in a big business CEO who had no idea how to run a growth company, and then the regulatory framework shifted to highly advantage monopolies again so they all went broke. But in the meantime, I got to learn a lot, both about the problems that eventually resulted in my starting Puppet, and also about what does and doesn’t work in business.
At one point, the company decided to buy a new product. I honestly can’t remember what it was for. Something related to asset tracking? Or maybe some kind of operational monitoring software?
I don’t know. I just know I shifted from being a sysadmin to responsible for making it work. I wasn’t part of the team that decided whether to buy something, and if so, which one to buy, I was just designated to put their decisions into action. In the months I worked on it, I don’t think we ever even got it installed anywhere except on a test server, and at some point we just, ah, decided we didn’t need it any more. The project went away, so I returned to my old job. The executive who had made this horrible decision had the gall to say my moving back to my old role was a strike against me, and it would reflect on my tenure at the company. No worries, he was gone the next month.
This wasn’t just a software problem. While the company was slowly dying, they had an argument with EMC over a storage array they never should have purchased. A million dollars of hardware sat in a receiving warehouse for almost a year, because we would not accept it, and EMC would not take it back.
The second warning was during my brief stint at Bladelogic. I worked there for less than six months, but I learned a lot. Again, mostly what not to do. I was ostensibly a product manager, but in practice they just wanted me to maintain their lab and maybe write some justifications for how their product worked. Certainly they did not want to listen to me. My most memorable experience is being in an all-dev-team meeting when the most senior engineer said something like, “What does it matter what the customer thinks? They already bought the product.” Astoundingly, the CTO did not fire him on the spot, and instead just moved on, ignoring the comment entirely.
It was clear Bladelogic’s business model enabled them to just not care what their customers thought. Onlyprospects mattered. Once the deal was closed, meh, they got paid, no biggie. You literally could not upgrade their software without losing all of your data — you know, the stuff you’re using to build and deploy your whole infrastructure — and doing any real work with the system required that you do everything twice, once to deploy and the second time to update. But you’d never discover that unless you actually used the software, which would be long after their salespeople left, so who cares? Not them.
You can maybe see why I lasted less than six months. It didn’t help that I was commuting between Boston and Nashville, and I’d managed to rent an apartment at the center of a cold vortex in Boston where my roommate collected Grateful Dead grape juice.
So when I started Puppet, I didn’t know much, but I at least had some anti-patterns. I knew we had to care more about our customers successfully using the product than we did about closing the initial deal, and that selling to people who would not use the software was a bad idea.
It turns out, that’s not quite sufficient to develop an effective sales strategy. Who knew?
I was lucky enough to hire the best sales leader in Oregon, who was not only incredibly skilled and experienced, he was also used to entrepreneurs and found me relatively sane compared to bosses he’d had in the past. Where a bunch of our engineers complained every time I opened my mouth, this guy quietly soldiered on. That made our years-long argument much easier to manage.
Early on, I didn’t know enough to break down what I wanted and what I didn’t, or how to talk about the individual behaviors, so I just wrapped up everything I hated and called it “enterprise sales”. We weren’t doing that. Ironically, our sales leader agreed with most of my concerns, so it wasn’t a real fight in the normal sense, but there were multiple areas he was convinced we needed to change, and it’s hard to do that when your ignorant CEO just puts up a ward against the evil eye and changes the subject.
Within a couple of years, he wouldn’t even say the word ‘enterprise’, because I would jump down his throat, proverbially speaking.
In the first few years of building Puppet, I tended to focus on preventing sales from skewing our product plans. I wanted to be sure we built products to be used, not sold, and I didn’t trust myself or the team to be able to tell the difference. I think this was basically right, but today, I would know that you should treat ideas from sales like you treat those from customers:
Always listen to what customers tell you, but never do what they say.
The sales team has a limited lens into the product world. They are smart and highly educated about your customer, but that doesn’t automatically translate into good solutions.
This is a general risk at any company with sales teams, but you have an even more pernicious variant with enterprise sales teams: Being confused on who your customer is.
Are you building the product for the person who buys it, or the one who uses it?
Remember back to that product I tried to set up at Bluestar. It was purchased to solve a business problem, and the person who decided to buy it did so based on discussions with sales and, probably, looking very closely at a grid of check marks comparing it to its competitors.^1 Actually using it was someone else’s problem.
In fact, I was not going to be the user either — I was supposed to be its administrator. Some other team (support or installation, probably) was going to actually use it. So they were even further from the buying decision.
If you’re selling to the enterprise, getting a deal done requires that you convince the buyer that your product is a winner. That makes them the most important person at the customer. Now, a quality company would also involve users, administrators, and many others in a buying decision, but in the end, buyer decides. Two or three decades ago, these decisions were mostly made on the golf course, so schmoozing was the most important feature. Today, it’s a lot less corrupt, but not a whole lot more functional.
This brings us to the other problem in this separation between user and buyer: Enterprise sales is a team sale, not selling to one user. Suddenly you succeed based on your ability to manage the interpersonal relationships of warring sub-teams at your customer, instead of the strengths of your product. I distinctly remember a dinner with tens of customer employees, and there was almost a flashing DMZ between two teams, who had differing opinions on whether our solutions was the right one. Salesperson quality and experience begin to matter more than anything else, because you’re basically managing internal politics to get a deal done.
Where did the focus on our product go? How do we stay focused on building something our users love?
We don’t, really. It’s hard to sustain an effective a feedback loop that includes sales if they’re focused more on people and politics than products. Not impossible. But hard.
At a big company, you can begin to navigate this kind of cognitive dissonance — listen to your sales team, but don’t build the products they demand. But in the early days of Puppet, I knew I couldn’t handle it. I am not good at dissonance in general — I’m a bit too fond of the idea that there’s just one truth — but I especially knew my organization could not handle it. We needed to be 100% aligned, and that meant sales needed to be working on the same problems as our product teams. Thus, no enterprise sales.
As we got bigger, the other big problem with enterprise sales starts to show up: Wow is it expensive. Lew Cirne of New Relic told me the primary reason he sold Wily when he did is because he needed to $150m just to build out the sales team and it wasn’t worth it.
If you’re doing inside sales, you’ve probably got someone who can talk through most of the product, they can talk to ten or more customers a day, and only once in a while will they pull someone in to help get a deal done. Once you go enterprise, you have field reps who might be covering thousands of square miles of territory, so if you’re lucky they’ll do three meetings a day on average, and they need a sales engineer on almost every visit. They pull in an expensive executive for meetings as often as an inside rep would pull in a cheap sales engineer.
Yes, you can get much bigger deals done this way, but think about the disruption to your organization: Essentially everyone on your leadership team is taking time away from running the business, not to learn from customers but just to make them feel loved enough to write a big check. Your deals start taking nine months to close instead of six weeks, and getting a check signed begins to look more like a challenge level in a video game than a partnership to solve customer problems. And the boss fight of that game is the worst part of enterprise sales: Procurement.
I’m not in the habit of disrespecting roles or teams, and I think procurement is often staffed with experts who play a vital role in their company. But they are generally paid based on how much money they “save” the company. All that discounting that you have to do for enterprise clients? It’s because procurement’s bonus is based on how much of a discount they force you to give. Absolutely everyone knows this is how it works, and that everyone knows this, so it’s just a game. I offer my product for a huge price, you try to force a discount, and then at the end we all compare notes to see how we did relative to market. Neither of us really wants to be too far out of spec; I want to keep my average prices the same, and you just want to be sure you aren’t paying too much.
But because companies compensate procurement based on saving money rather than making good decisions about what to buy, we can sell crappy products at a steep discount but not good products at list price.
It’s a helluva boss fight.
There’s often a miniboss, too: Legal. They just want their pound of flesh, and often this seems more like a puzzle level than a direct fight. I recently saw a deal that had been in legal for a year. That’s too much puzzle for me. (Incidentally, I worked on that same customer more than 4 years ago. Talk about long sales cycles.)
So now you begin to see why I fought against enterprise sales: It encourages you to build the wrong product for the wrong person and then sell it the wrong way at the wrong price.
Why, then, is it so popular? Or rather, why is it so hard to avoid that despite my best efforts we ended up in an enterprise sales motion, which I then ran away from?
Well, first and foremost, if it works it’s incredibly lucrative. For all that Lew Cirne built New Relic in response to his experience at Wily, and pointedly avoided enterprise sales for years, once they went public they went through a dramatic transformation and added it in, because the money was just too appealing. The biggest companies buy the most software, and, well, the biggest companies want to be sold a specific way.
In many cases, you just can’t avoid it. That’s a lot of what happened at Puppet: Our products were built to solve problems that big companies have. Heterogeneous environments, every operating system and application known to man, complex networks, and heavy compliance needs. Turns out it’s rare that a company has all these problems but buys large software products like you buy toilet paper.
Our first deals at companies did tend to look very consumer-like. But once they wanted to expand to other teams, and especially if they wanted to cover the whole company, the relationship naturally switched to a team sale, where we’re having to work with legal, procurement, executives, and then reps from three or four other teams. Ideally someone inside the org is an advocate for our product, so it’s more facilitation than direct selling, but the problem still stands: This is a clear enterprise sale.
But when it works… wow. You start closing $100k deals, then $300k, then $1m, then $10m. This starts to add up.
And for all that I’ve said this is hard… it’s actually the easiest way to sell.
What’s actually hard is having the best product, and only ever winning based on merit. Enterprise sales is the default motion, and in many cases it’s chosen to paper over weaknesses in the product. After all, only the user would actually notice those; in a meeting with the CIO, procurement, legal, and project management, no one’s going to install the product and give it a runout.
We’re still super early as an industry in our understanding of how to build a product that doesn’t rely on enterprise sales. For all that Atlassian relies more on sales than it has said, there’s no question that they managed to avoid an enterprise selling motion. I’m hoping the next generations of software companies will learn from them instead of Workday.
In the meantime, hopefully this story of how I fought enterprise sales, and why, will help you make better decisions about how to build your own teams. At the least, maybe I can just be a horrible warning.
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