Small ideas grow into big ideas

The debate over what is true in the recent hit movie Social Network will go on for years. The fact that Facebook has grown at extreme rates since the site was launched is not debatable. Facebook has more than 550 million users. If it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.

The movie and the success story led to other business founders talking about the evolution of their companies at this fall’s Corporate Visions Executive Forum in Lake Tahoe. Wendy Reed, the founder of InfoMentis, a sales training and consulting firm, had an especially interesting story.

Fourteen years ago, Wendy, received a call from a colleague at Oracle. He wanted to talk to her about training his regional sales team. What an honor! Wendy had been a top sales performer for years and led many teams to success, but she had never stood at the front of a class to teach sales skills to a class of newbies. More to the point, she already had a job.

She met with her friend to see how she could help. He was convinced she could train his team to sell, just like she had for years. And he offered to pay her. This was now interesting, but she had to build a training program. The date was set for the first training class to happen just 90 days following the first meeting.

She called a former employee and proposed they work on the material together. The catch, she could not really afford to pay for assistance. They met every night and throughout the weekends to build the training binder and learning exercises.

It was just one week until the first class and her contact at Oracle phoned again to say the company had decided they needed an enterprise wide sales training methodology and the corporate decision maker would attend her first training session to evaluate the class.

She again reminded her friend that up to this date she had only been a participant in sales training classes. She knew what she liked and she had a long list of what she didn’t think worked. He had full confidence.

The day came and the class was going well. She had a list of a few things to change by day’s end and went home to plan for day two of the class. When she arrived the next day, the top corporate decision maker from Oracle wanted to talk before class began. He told her he liked what he saw, and had decided she would train the entire sales team at Oracle.

If you have met Wendy, you would know she always says it the way she sees it. She had to remind him that day two was about to begin and they better talk about this after the sales team sitting in the conference room had completed their training.

After the class, the planning began, and this entrepreneur again did not mince words. She reminded Oracle that she already had a job and that she did not have a program that was ready to implement with 1000+ sales people. Oracle offered an $80K purchase order to get it ready for the big show. She trained the entire sales team at Oracle, soon after gained a contract with PeopleSoft and today she has a 35-person firm and has trained thousands of companies how to grow revenues.

It may not be the 550 million users posting on Facebook, but Wendy is the CEO of a business that contributes to the growth of many of the firms that grace the pages of the best business magazines. Like Facebook, it started small, but grew because the founder found a new way to meet the needs of her clients. She identified what wasn’t working and she developed a program that was different. That is a Big Idea!

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photo by katrinasnaps

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