Jarrod Johnson | Crain's San Francisco

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jarrod Johnson

Background:  

TaskUs works behind the scenes for some of today’s most popular apps and tech companies, including Tinder, Hootsuite, Groupon and Periscope. They provide outsourced customer service and support via phone, email, chat and other means to help users solve problems. In January, the company opened a sales office in Dallas. Last year, TaskUs opened a call center in San Antonio. The building will be expanded to add another 500 jobs in the San Antonio. TaskUs employs 8,000 worldwide.

The Mistake:

I was supremely confident we would win this big deal with a global client because of the relationship we already had established with them.

Selling software was a multi-million dollar business when I started at IBM. This was before everything migrated to the cloud so I spent my days trying to secure big contracts for IBM.

I thought we had the inside track on a deal that could be worth up to $20 million over the next two decades. I was 25 years old, sitting in my office when the bad news hit--we lost the deal. I was almost in tears. I felt betrayed.

Rigorous, strategic planning is critical.

The Lesson:

Our competitor talked directly to the person making the decisions and they beat us.

I was blindsided because I thought the relationship I already had at the company would make us a shoe-in. In reality, we misjudged it. We misread the criteria and didn’t know who the final decisionmaker would be.

It seems obvious in hindsight.

But it exemplifies an important lesson in my sales career. Rigorous, strategic planning is critical.

Sometimes you have to take your licks and move on.

Now I oversee a team of salespeople at TaskUs so I pass these lessons on to them, too. I started here in November and opened the office in January in Uptown Dallas. We’ve got a team of 10 here reaching out to small and mid-size companies that are disrupting traditional businesses.

 

Follow Jarrod Johnson on Twitter @JarrodJohnson and TaskUs on Twitter @TaskUs.

Photo courtesy of TaskUs.

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