A tribute to Billy B...

I heard a song on the radio the other day and I was instantly reminded of Billy B*, as well as a time that was so professionally and personally fun. A while back, when business was flush with opportunity, daring, well run and not so burdened by the administrative and operating mechanisms that are prevalent in much of today's business frame work (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away** it could be said), there was Billy B who was a part of this fabric; in sales administration and a jack of trades, he was indispensable to a small sales organization and I worked closely with him to deploy marketing initiatives through the sales channel. This is how I got to know him.

This story begins in a hospitality suite*** which, if you are familiar with them, is an oasis at the end of a long day... more often than not offering adult refreshments. It is here that one night Billy B stands up and starts to sing one of the most classic rock & roll songs ever written**** with great gusto, talent and engagement; so much so that his small audience is mesmerized. The next day saw us back to our world of sales and marketing.

Our next sales meeting inevitably led to the hospitality suite, where there were a few more people and of course memories of the previous meeting. This in turn led to Billy B serenading the group with song and great fun; it was here that someone suggested they would bring a guitar for next time (i). The next couple of years passed growing the business, the sales team and the hospitality suite - It was Billy B, two guitarists and someone on percussion using a table and every person who was attending the meeting (ii).

And then it happened, word came down that our next meeting would be a North American event and the hospitality suite would go international. This meeting was bigger and after all the activities there was the comfort of the hospitality suite, Billy B, the music and a slightly bigger crowd than in the past. The word of Billy B had started to spread. 

With the business growing rapidly there came a couple of watershed moments; the hospitality suite closed its doors to make way for a larger, more formal Sales Banquet and the band playing one time let Billy B and a couple of his "musicians" take the stage (it was at the end of the night and they didn't seem to have any issues). With most of the room empty by that time, Billy B started to sing, cheered on by his die-hard supporters (iii). Over the next four or five years the crowds got bigger at the end of the banquets, the participation greater and always, I mean always, Billy B would grace the stage engaging the crowd with his signature song. By the end, Billy B (in full costume with a full back up band) had 400 people dancing and singing along with him (iv)

Change, that only true constant, found the business needs move in a new direction, as is the way with a sizeable merger and acquisition. With this, Billy B never had the opportunity to sing again... deep down though, he was all right with it as I can remember him saying "it's time for someone else to take the reins". No one ever did...we had moved past those times into new ones (v).

There is great nostalgia with writing this but it also struck me this is a wonderful illustration of a product life cycle, and if you want to get philosophical, how life works. Before anyone gets disheartened here, do remember that maturity can be extended through line extenders or continued refinement to stay relevant. More importantly, and never forget this... you can always just redevelop yourself and start the curve all over again. That is where the real fun and excitement is.

Billy B is retired now and I hope he is still singing.



  • (i) Product development, viability and understanding market need.
  • (ii) Product introduction, engagement with early adopters and an opportunity do optimize marketing message.
  • (iii) Product growth and a time of great excitement.
  • (iv) Product maturity and the height of opportunity.
  • (v) Product decline due to changing markets, competition and substitutes. 

* I have changed Billy B's name a little but anyone who was there will know whom I am referring to and I expect they are smiling. 

** I am very excited about the next instalment of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

*** The hospitality suite is where the sales force would gather after the day's activities to meet, network, have drinks and bond - More often than not a hotel suite.

**** The song is Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. As I look back at this, there is know doubt it was the perfect anthem for the sales force. See lyrics below

Satisfaction Lyrics

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

When I'm driving in my car
And the man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination

I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

When I'm watchin' my TV
And a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarettes as me

I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no girl reaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

When I'm ridin' round the world
And I'm doin' this and I'm signing that
And I'm tryin' to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back maybe next week
'Cause you see I'm on losing streak

I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say

I can't get no, I can't get no
I can't get no satisfaction, no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction
I can't get no

Keith Richards;Mick Jagger