Wednesday, July 25, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On July 25 I headed over to the Turquoise Technology ( open house. Since Turquoise is a SpireMedia ( client, Brandon Shevin and Brett Madden were there. LH3 ( was handling some of the PR duties so Lauri Harrison, Jen Hofmeister, and Marissa Peede of were greeting people at the door. The in-house PR person is Jeannie Freis, who was wandering around in turquoise hair for the occasion (a wig, actually). Richard Sharp and Brad Spirrison of eMileHigh ( were checking out the scene and taking photos. Mark Weakley and Linda Wackwitz from Holme Roberts & Owen ( So were Carl Kalin of The Jedi Group ( and Adam Asnes of lingoport ( There were on-going demos of the company's flagship product, the ContentCube, a self-contained hardware/software appliance designed for advertising and multimedia agencies.

Friday morning I was at another Colorado Internet Keiretsu ( roundtable. This one was on sales and was held at the University of Colorado-Denver's Bard Center for Entrepreneurship Development ( located on the 16th Street Mall. Before the presentation began, several sponsors were recognized: Honorable Selling (, SpireMedia, and Cooley Godward ( There were six presenters and here are some of the highlights:

Jared Polis, founder of and chairman of Proflowers ( and Dan's Chocolates, said sales are sales even in different sectors. You must keep the end consumer in mind. Your top sales people are going to do great without supervision. If you can improve your middle salesepeople, you'll get a noticeable payoff. Top sales people do not necessarily share common traits. Often the most important thing they do is just to show up. Boards of advisors and directors can be a good source of sales leads. When distributing resources, focus on sales because they drive the marketplace. His balance would be 10% marketing to 90% sales.

Brad Morgan has worked for VISA and Harrah's and several other companies. He considers himself more of a marketing guy. While at VISA, he organized and managed a large sales force to call on merchants and was responsible for getting credit cards into supermarkets and doctors' offices. He was able to get this program underway by hiring eagles from different sectors. They were a small, elite group who were highly compensated.

Dick Pankoski of Strategic Development said that he focuses not on advice but on results. There is nothing that isn't sales. The only thing worse than bad news is not hearing the bad news. The most important call is the call we least want to make. A successful person is always making the toughest call. The only prospect you can't sell to is the one you can't engage in a dialogue. The ultimate rejection is when a person will not talk to you. The best sales angle is to be the company that takes away the most pain.

Mike Gellman, CEO of SpireMedia, said that he hates sales. It's a rare breed of people who don't hate sales. But he learned to live sales because he had to make money to live. He accepted the motto, "ABC -- Always Be Closing." The CEO needs to be the biggest sales person in the company. Make your clients evangelists on your behalf.

Janet Ryan of Ryan Whiteman ( said sales strategy depends on multiple factors such as price points and product lifecycles. Those factors determine what kind of sales force is needed. What is your sales culture and how do you want to be known? Every organization is different. One way to generate results and minimize risks is to offer a commission based on profit rather than on revenue.

Larry Nelson of ICR Web ( said he learned everything he knows from his five kids. Having lived and worked in Japan, Australia, and three European countries, he learned to ask the right questions.

Among the advice coming from the audience: If you can't afford eagles, look for industry experience. If potential salespeople don't have lots of experience, have them pitch to you during the interview process. Partnerships sometimes work by letting other companies promote your products as they sell theirs.

Friday evening I found out from Phil Smith, with Replay Rich Media (, that Running with Sally ( was playing at the Catacombs in Boulder. He wanted me to check out the band since one of his co-workers, Chris Sheldon, is the band's drummer. After first going to Trios to catch two sets by the Billy Tolles band ( ) and chatting with Billy about a party he played for me up in Vail last summer, I headed over to the Catacombs.

It was my first time to hear Running with Sally and my first time in the Catacombs, so I don't know whether it was a typical  crowd for either. But it was the best looking crowd I have ever seen listening to music. Boulder is a good looking town to begin with and this had to be the creme de la creme. It was virtually impossible not to strike up a conversation with someone you'd consider going home with. It was like being in the middle of a J. Crew catalog. And it wasn't exclusively a 21-25 crowd. I saw a surprising number of people 35+ (definitely not in the majority, but enough that if you've already left your twenties, you'd still feel comfortable there). The place had a bit of a frat party atmosphere: Lots of little rooms to hang out in. Couches tucked into corners. There was a smoky bar (a rarity in Boulder), a pool room, a music room (just big enough for the band and a small dance floor), and miscellaneous other rooms. The advantage of this arrangement is that you can periodically wander from room to room for a change in atmosphere.

It was a very energy scene. A good time had by all. Typical of a Boulder band, Running with Sally's music doesn't quite fit into any one category. They deliver a lighter touch than a hardcore boogie band and they aren't as random/spacey as an acid rock band. I'd call them a jam band with very danceable rhythms. For the two hours I was there, never once did I see a time when people weren't dancing, It was great party music. I highly recommend catching them.

On Saturday I attended the Platinum Ball at the MCI Plaza in the Denver Tech Center. The setting was very cool -- a large courtyard open on two sides, but still enclosed. So while you were protected from the elements, you had a great view and a feeling of being outdoors. The event was thrown by eight hosts (seven men and one woman) and billed as the social event of the season for 20-to-40-year-old movers and shakers in the Denver/Boulder area. I wasn't sure how many people I would recognize and, as it turned out, not many. Among the estimated 1300 attendees, I spotted Jared Polis, of fame, Andrew Currie, co-founder of what is now MessageMedia, David Hieb of Namewise (, Denise Soler of Giggle with the Girls (, and Barry Fey, famed Denver music promoter.

I tried to discern some common theme to describe the crowd. It is easier to say what it was not. First of all, black tie in Denver does not necessarily mean tuxes and long dresses. I saw some suits and short dresses. Secondly, Denver appears not to be a town of boob jobs, big hair, statuesque blondes, or bimbos. There wasn't a "look" to tie all the women --or the men for that matter -- together. I suppose we should be happy about that. If you want to get more info about the Platinum Ball, go to eMileHigh ( for my article about it. And also check out this site for photos and more details.