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When I was in my 20s, I was taught the relationship between marketing and sales over a bonfire. Over 30 years ago, before the arrival of the personal computer, there were desktop computers called office workstations.
As the company’s revenues skyrocketed, Convergent started a new division to make a multi-processor Unix-based mini-computer. Since this new computer was very complicated – it was a pioneer in multi-processing– I concluded it needed an equally detailed data sheet.
The day the datasheets came back from the printers, I sent the boxes to the sales department in Convergent’s corporate headquarters, a separate building across the highway, and sent a copy to our CEO and the new VP of Sales.
Heading to a meeting with the VP of Sales, I almost walked past the crowd into the building  until I heard the VP of Sales call me over to the fire. I stood there stunned as I realized that my 16-page carefully constructed, brilliantly written, technically accurate datasheets were being destroyed en masse.
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Designed around the first generation of microprocessors, these computers ran business applications like word processing, spreadsheets, and accounting.
Convergent had assembled a stellar team with founders from Digital Equipment Corporation and Intel and engineers from Xerox PARC.  And once we went public, we hired a veteran VP of Sales from Honeywell. I had joined the company as the product marketing manager and now found myself as the VP of marketing for this new division.
In fact, when I was done, the datasheet describing our new computer, proudly called the MegaFrame, was 16 pages long.
For web sites with an ecommerce component, the site itself is supposed to both create demand and close the sale.
They were an improvement over the dumb terminals hanging off of mainframes and minicomputers, but ran proprietary operating systems and software.
I fact-checked the datasheet with my boss (who would be my co-founderat Epiphany) and the rest of the engineering team.  We all agreed it was perfect. As I parked and walked closer I noticed a crowd of people around what seemed to be an impromptu campfire.  “What the heck??” As an ex Sales and Marketing VP, our CEO had a Silicon Valley reputation for outrageous stunts so I wondered what it was this time -  a spur-of-the-moment BBQ?


My third startup, Convergent Technologies (extra credit for identifying the photo on page 2) was in the business of making these workstations. A marketer for 5 years, I thought I knew everything and proceeded to write the data sheets for our new computer. We’d left no stone unturned in answering every possible question anyone could ever have about our system. In fact, reading these, the only thing your datasheet will do is give a prospective customer a reason for saying “no” before our salespeople ever get to talk to them.




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