What Can You Hold Back On?

The blogosphere is currently twisting its knickers over the legitimacy and consequences of Google’s apparently imminent $250m purchase of Twitter. Whichever way you look at it, Twitter is a remarkable web 2.0 phenomenon.

I’ve been in a room of highly intelligent businesspeople who reached levels of hysteria their day job could only dream of when debating Twitter. Opinions rapidly polarised. To some it was an essential business and communications tool uniquely engaging and creating a true partnership between vendor and client, to others it was the moronic time stealing pursuit of nonsense with no value or depth and completely bereft of a profit making business model. Amazing.

One angle I take a sales note of, is that the pair of perhaps soon-to-be wildly wealthy founders have, in fact, got significant form in this arena. In 2003, they sold their previous venture. At the time, it went for an undisclosed fee, widely rumoured to be a hefty 8-figure sum. And would you know it, they also sold back then to Google.

The product they exited was Blogger. One of a handful of free-to-use blogging platforms. You can see how simple an extension of that premise Twitter was.

Consequently, I find it hard to imagine that when they made their first millions, Twitter wasn’t already at least a twinkle in their eye.

If this scenario is true, then how brilliant of them to keep it to themselves. I can imagine the Google due diligence. “What else have you on the drawing board, in development, about to work on next?”

One problem of a selling mentality is that you’re often tempted to talk about futures. In software we used to call this “vapourware”. Yet they can easily derail a sale. Decision criteria can quickly skew away from your strengths as a result. Sometimes the most powerful info in your armoury is that which you hold back on, even conceal for good.

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