From Impossible to Inevitable
From Impossible to Inevitable

From Impossible to Inevitable

They started out “cold” without the advantage of prior relationships. (Location 490)

Niche here means focused. On a specific target customer with a specific pain. Regardless of how many types of customers you could help, or how many of their problems you could solve. (Location 524)

covering all your bases (really, dividing your energies). Hypergrowth comes from focusing on where you have the best chances of winning customers, making them successful, building a reputation of tangible results, and then growing from there. For example: (Location 529)

Solve a specific pain for An ideal target customer in A believable, repeatable way, With predictable methods to a) find and b) interest them. (Location 539)

If you focus on solving a single problem really well and can adapt as the market evolves, the sky's your limit. (Location 549)

There's a painful difference to evolve from selling to Early Adopters who trust you, to Mainstream Buyers who don't. Geoff Moore called this “crossing the chasm.” We call it bridging a Trust Gap. (Location 561)

You have to either (a) find a way to fit your message into that slice of attention, or (b) expand the amount of attention they're willing to give you. (Location 599)

Do you believe your intended buyers need what you're offering? Or are you a nice-to-have? One clear sign that you're a nice-to-have: Everyone you show your product to say “cool!” but no one buys. (Location 642)

Marketers want a beautiful website—but they need a website that converts visitors to outcomes such as leads or purchases. (Location 647)

“Sell money” means proving to customers that your product will help them make more money, spend less of it, reduce the risk of losing it, or stay compliant (Location 664)

(avoiding fines and legal risk). Demonstrate how spending money with you will make them more money. (Location 665)

If you say you'll “increase revenue” or “decrease costs,” you sound just like everyone else. What's equivalent to money in their mind—leads? Close rates? Social activity? Collections? (Location 669)

ACME was in a noisy, commoditized market. All of ACME's target prospects already had something “good enough. (Location 688)

I couldn't have done any of this without Nailing my Niche, specializing 100% in an opportunity where I had the easiest time making money—that is, the easiest time creating tangible results for others—and eliminating all my nice-to-haves. (Location 731)

I'd bought into the “If you build it, they'll come” fairy tale. I had misguided expectations of what it'd take to grow an expertise-based business. (Location 775)

In a parallel universe, if I'd picked one and tripled down, going all in, it could have taken off faster. But it would still have been more of a slog than I wanted. (Location 779)

from (relatively expensive) Santa Monica to a cheaper area. Or I could grow my business. I chose growth. And I kept choosing growth as we continued to add children to our family, year after year, and had to move to bigger and bigger houses. (Location 793)

Here's the problem we are the best at solving … with our repeatable solution we have delivered 100 times. Do you have it? No, you don't have it? Do you know anyone else who might be interested?” (Location 846)

It's better to pick a focused market that's “too small,” but where you can find and win deals, than it is to stick to defining your target market so broadly that you get lost in it. Why is this? (Location 873)

Every business (and individual) has unique strengths, weakness, and superpowers—whether or not they realize it. (Location 903)

But when you're solving business problems, not consumer problems, research matters. (Location 1143)

Focus on those customers with a burning need you can solve—not on the ones that think you're “cool” or who should or could need you. (Location 1273)

The best way to triple new sales isn't by tripling your salespeople (the traditional method for sales-driven companies) but by growing your qualified leads. (Location 1325)

Unhappy customers don't (always) complain before they leave. In-person visits can make all the difference in identifying their problems and in changing their attitudes. (Location 1443)

Must meet onsite with five customers a month (that's 60 per year) (Location 1445)

Get two customer badges every year as a bonus (that is, you visit so often they give you your own ID badge) (Location 1446)

The whole point of Customer Success is to increase net negative churn, so you need tools and processes to measure and improve the function, including how the people on your team perform. (Location 1459)

usually at least on retention rates and perhaps even on upsell revenue. (For example, see the Gild case study in the next section.) (Location 1462)

Customer support typically reacts to fix problems that have happened. (Location 1543)

preventing problems from being created in the first place. (Location 1544)

Continuously listen to feedback: In most organizations, the customer support group interacts with the customer the most. (Location 1573)

Create a career path: Your best employees won't want to stay in the same job their whole lives; they'll want to grow. (Location 1577)

Corporate marketing (such as at Adobe, Google, or is all about protecting and promoting the brand after you're already big (Location 1639)

spend X dollars and create Z leads, which should be worth five × X dollars in revenue. (Location 1642)

One of the things Zenefits does differently is lead generation. Not the mechanics so much as how predictable they make it and how hard they push it. How far they take it. (Location 1653)

Test things fast in the real world.” You have to get your hands dirty to really understand who the target is and what their pains are. What is a must-have? Don't make assumptions—go out and email them and talk to them. Get out from behind your desk, Twitter feeds, and laptops and try things in the real world. (Location 1709)

Look for 10x levers.” See how quickly you can find a lever to pull to get closer to guaranteeing business, then put your pedal to the metal. For Zenefits, in the beginning Matt says, “Outbound was our ultimate early lever. (Location 1720)

It takes three to six months to go from scratch to consistent pipeline generation—and longer for revenue. Stick it out! (Location 2013)

It especially bugs us because we're firm believers in hiring and training fewer, more committed people, rather than taking a “churn and burn” approach. (Location 2706)

And recruiting great reps and making them successful is the #1 most important thing your VP Sales will do. And the great ones knows this. (Location 2716)

Helping coach reps to close deals (not doing it for them). Getting hands-on when needed, or in big deals. Spotting issues before they blow up. (Location 2717)

You've hired one to four reps on your own. But you have no idea, or ability, of how to scale and make it predictable. (Location 2753)

The problem is that most VPs of Sales struggle in this phase, because most got their titles by successfully growing something that was already regularly working systematically—not by being the one who systematized it. (Location 2758)

But the idea of builders versus growers can be useful anytime. When you're in an exploration phase of figuring out how something should work, such as with a new company, sales function, or program, look for people who like to figure things out: Builders. When you have a system all figured out and just need to hire more people into it, look for people who are great at following a predefined system: Growers. (Location 2859)

And despite all this, and the other reasons, the board is still telling you to keep hiring more salespeople to drive growth! It's pouring water faster into a leaky sales team bucket. (Location 3027)

Now, if say, 30% of a sales team is missing quota, is it the fault of the people or the system? Was 30% of the team really mishired? If you are losing 25% of your sales team a year (whether they leave or are fired)—is it the people or is it your system? (Location 3030)

Management: Leadership (mostly the CEO & VP Sales) isn't connected with what's going on “in the trenches,” or is still very traditional or conservative. We love this quote: “People leave managers, not companies. (Location 3060)

In addition to looking at those areas of Lead Generation, Specialization, and Sales Management, go talk to your people, one by one, and identify patterns that lead you to discover the main one or two problems that are causing high attrition. (Location 3071)

In the early days, we set things up so that marketing owned all lead generation, with a Lead Commit for delivering qualified opportunities to sales. (Location 3087)

Each closing rep manager should have 8–10 direct reports. We promote from within, when possible, and if it's the best option, but we don't force it. (Location 3147)

It's easy to think you're pushing yourself as hard as you can. And setting uber-aggressive goals out of thin air can mean you totally whiff them. (Location 3156)

Revenue is a concrete team goal everyone can and should get behind. (Location 3178)

I had a similar experience myself, personally. Back during a Year of Hell when we almost went bankrupt, I waived all my salary. I worked for no cash (though I took equity instead) for about a year after we raised venture capital. (Location 3193)

So I asked for a $10,000 bonus. My salary was $0. But I needed the bonus. I brought in the money. I needed a tangible, real pat on the back. In the way only a check can do. (Location 3199)

Anything you're doing to avoid or ignore painful truths, to hide from your weaknesses or avoid embarrassment, will make it harder to scale. (Location 3209)

What are you doing to spot embarrassing problems early in an acquisition, investment, lead generation initiative, new hire, new office or plant, new product or management system? (Location 3220)

Being uncomfortably honest with yourself and your team helps you spot and deal with weaknesses before they trip you up. Being uncomfortably honest (Location 3252)

The ugly side of having a lot of opportunities is that being busy working your list can feel productive without actually generating any concrete results. (Location 3266)

It's impossible to maintain a 100% honest and accurate list of opportunities, because (a) people may not respond to your questions, (b) they can be afraid or may not want to be open and honest, and (c) it's easy for you to have happy ears and hear only what you want to hear, not what was said. (Location 3275)

Finally, the truth can lead to failure, burst bubbles, and rejection. If you've ever had a crush on someone but hesitated to confront him/her in some way to find out if it's mutual, you know what I mean. (Location 3289)

It can be easier to hold onto hope than to have it punctured with the reality of No. (Location 3293)

Your job with your people and their list of opportunities is to get to the truth, the why, and then help them move on or out of your pipeline. (Let the dating jokes begin.) (Location 3296)

High win rates aren't good, low ones aren't bad. (Location 3386)

Don't “assume”—investigate. Look at win rates with other data to get the whole story. For example, win rates for word-of-mouth leads (Seeds) should be much higher than leads generated by marketing (Nets) or outbound (Spears). (Location 3412)

In Part 1: Nail a Niche, we mentioned Avanoo, the corporate employee training company, going from a few thousand in revenue to $5 million in a bit more than a year. (Location 3651)

Many entrepreneurs, especially first-time founders, have expectations (Location 3667)

“Small” is a great place to start because it's easier to get things going and adjust on the fly. Plus you can get valuable feedback, case studies, and community effects from small customers. (Location 3691)

Often they're just trying to survive rather than grow, can't afford to pay much, can't pay cash up front, may buy impulsively, or lack the time, people, or money to follow through 100%. (Location 3693)

But don't count on making a big business out of small deals or customers. (Location 3696)

With bigger deals, you will (a) make a lot more money, (b) exert less effort, and (c) help customers become more successful. If you're selling to someone who's close to your Ideal Customer Profile, closing a $100,000 deal shouldn't be much more work than closing a $10,000 deal, and may not even take longer. (Location 3702)

If you have multiple segments with 10% or more revenue, you need to service them all in some fashion. Let them atrophy and you may regret it, if 12 or 24 or 30 months later, you're trying to find a layer where you can grow your business another 10%! (Location 3788)

If you're struggling with nailing down your pricing, remember: Pricing is always frustrating and never perfect It's easier to start with higher pricing and then lower it, than to start low and raise it later Getting your pricing right is often—if not always—confusing and frustrating. Many companies end up missing out on a lot of revenue by underpricing. Here are a couple of approaches you can use: (Location 3944)

these people, sales is about buying a bunch of search ad words, parroting a company's message, or manipulating or somehow compelling uninterested prospects into buying. They're wrong (Location 4013)

The true purpose of salespeople is to create new value for customers, especially when they are working for a startup or growth company that's addressing a new market or trying to solve a complex problem. (Location 4018)

The best enterprise salespeople are coaches, ensuring that prospects receive what they need, resources are rallied within the company, stumbling blocks are uncovered and avoided, and surprises are eliminated. (Location 4061)

His business was doing $30 million and growing nicely. He was about to introduce a new product that he thought could be game-changing, and he had a strong team (according to him) that he truly enjoyed working with. (Location 4226)

Those who succeed in making the big leaps find the motivation—whether through drive or passion—to sustain them through the ups and downs of Doing The Time, or a Year of Hell. (Location 4302)

There's never been an easier time to start a business—even with less than $100. Businesses are growing faster than ever. It seems like every week another company's gone from nothing to $100 million in record time, or been acquired for $1 billion or some other huge amount. (Location 4323)

It's clear that they're confusing learn with earn. So here's a simple calculation I do for them: okay, you would own 0.25% of the stock. They raised $5 million in their B round. (Location 4410)

If you want to earn—and by earn, I mean the chance to buy your house outright—you have to start a company or join as a senior executive. (Location 4428)

For most people it's learn. I only emphasize the question because I find it much more helpful to join a company with realistic expectations. (Location 4437)

Obviously you should take only jobs that you enjoy and that let you be passionate about coming to work every day. That's a given. Don't blindly join a company without knowing why you'd join or asking the right questions. (Location 4450)

“Dude [I live in SoCal now!], it's time to earn. Stop dicking around with another number-two job (he always gets offered the number-two position). It's time for you to be in the driver's seat. Either start a company or go somewhere where they need a CEO. (Location 4468)

I can often feel trapped in my role, not allowed to try anything new or experiment. (Location 4591)

I know I need to perform in my “day job” (what I was hired for), but aren't there ways that I can also keep learning in other areas, including in making the company more money? (Location 4594)

If you wait for people to recognize or discover you, here or anywhere, chances are you'll be waiting a lo-o-ong time. (Location 4612)

There will always be innumerable problems to solve; pick one and do something about it. (Location 4615)

Yes, you've overcome big challenges in your career to get here. What's next in your area, and how it can help revenue growth or customers? Because if you can't evolve the way you're thinking or running your team, you're going to be left behind. (Location 4666)

Otherwise, you're stuck in the mud. It could be specializing your sales roles, creating bigger enterprise packages or smaller SMB products, pivoting, going freemium, running away from freemium, changing culture, whatever. How dependent is your team on your ideas, motivation, and execution? How often do they come up with their own new ideas, and take the initiative to figure them out? (Location 4672)

Owners don't need to be managed. They don't sit around waiting to be told what to do—they do it. Because when they own something, emotionally, when they care about something, they take care of it. (Location 4684)

it's the system of prospecting that needs to change. This is why specializing sales roles works so well. Got it? Okay then (Location 4689)

it's not the people that are the problem, it's the system of management that needs to change. (Location 4692)

Your employees don't act like owners, because they aren't owners. Not really. (Location 4699)

People support what they help create—the size of what they own doesn't matter as much as the reality of their ownership. Including an inability to hide from that responsibility, which is why shared responsibility tends to create pointed fingers. (Location 4717)

You'll always have Complainers and Clockers, in addition to CEO-types and Careerists (we'll describe those further on). But if you directly manage 10 people, and even one more acts like an owner, it can be transformative. (Location 4727)

No one will ever be you. Their job is not to sell like you, create like you, or lead like you. Sometimes they'll be worse than you at things, sometimes better, but never the same. (Location 4742)

challenge them to get off their butts, out of their ruts, and make things happen, you're wasting their potential and your time. (Location 4748)

Most wait to be told what to do. It's what they've been trained to do since they were young, in school and most jobs—“do what you're told” and “just follow these 10 steps to pass the class and get the reward. (Location 4751)

Don't try to fix or respond to or improve everything at once. (Location 4801)

Because once you get the ball rolling with a first few “wins,” it's easier to keep up the improvements. (Location 4808)

Or if there's a main challenge you're dealing with—yes, especially a financial one—begin by sharing updates on it or other top issues, in person, by phone, web, and email, whatever line of communication is easiest to maintain, because you have to keep it up, as regularly as possible for the first few months. (Location 4829)

Over time, regular updates will evolve to change style and pace, but in the beginning, you need (Location 4836)

Rather than having people coming to you with options all the time and asking you to decide, they are coming to you for advice when they need it and then they decide. (Location 4884)

Functional Ownership: Who owns which responsibilities—Sales? Leads? IT? Financial Ownership: Who are the equity owners of the company? How are commissions made or profits shared? (Location 4890)

Executives create Forcing Functions all the time: starting a business, raising money, taking on debt, or announcing a launch or publication date. The trick is pushing this down and across the organization, applying it with employees so that they have that same feeling of “having to meet payroll” too (the next section goes into the details on how). (Location 4924)

Decision-making is a skill that gets easier with practice. (Location 4927)

People only get better at decision making when their boss lets them make decisions on their own, and then learn from the consequences. (Location 4929)

Learning loops—CEOs with boards of directors have a system to help them gauge results, receive feedback, avoid blind spots, and get pushed out of comfort zones. (Location 4934)

When you have a Forcing Function deadline that someone can't hide from, it drives everything else to get built as they go: results, decisions, and learning loops. (Location 4961)

Owners need to improve their decisiveness and confidence, which comes from practice and coaching. (Location 4977)

“Asking for advice, not the answer,” and gaining confidence in yourself, your ideas, and initiative. How did you end up in your current role? It was probably because you've always followed your own intuition and desires, instead of happening because other people thought (Location 4997)

If you're not failing, frustrated, or disappointed almost every day about something, you're too comfortable. (Location 5007)

myself, I delegated the work to a volunteer who wanted to own it. They led the team in creating the content, we worked together on the format, and they trained themselves. (Location 5043)

Instead of creating and managing the new sales playbookby myself, I delegated the work to a volunteer who wanted to own it. (Location 5045)

But if they get stuck there, at some point it's going to stifle them and you'll miss out on who they could become and how they could contribute in even bigger or broader ways. (Location 5135)

Help people find their individual strengths, desires, and genius, to work together as a group of talented individuals, not clones. (Location 5169)

These employees can be a pain to manage but can also create big breakthroughs. They may or may not be long-term employees, depending on how far they can take the opportunity they have with your business. (Location 5186)

opportunity, or idea—there will always be challenges. Owners and entrepreneurs succeed despite them, not without them. Even in baby steps. A step is a step, no matter how (Location 5259)

Most employees have an unconscious dialogue: “I'm going to do well at my job. And by doing that, at some point I'll be recognized and promoted. Eventually I'll be a senior executive. With the money and respect I deserve. I'll have enough money for a house, my family, and retirement. I'll be able to live happily ever after. (Location 5281)

What's most frustrating to you at work? List the worst parts, all the “cons” How could you flip it to be a positive? In the future, looking back, what was so great about this situation? Now list some pros about it—what can turn this into an opportunity? What baby step can you take today to take advantage of it? Do this regularly, to practice turning your resistance to change (frustrations) into embracing opportunity (excitement). (Location 5330)

Develop your personal interests, explore your passions, and improve your art. And not only for the money, when you can help it. They can balance you out, add joy, human connection, make you more unique, and expose you to unexpected people, adventures, and successes. (Location 5343)

Money does not automatically follow passion. How many starving artists and writers are there versus the number of rich artists and writers? (Location 5349)

You need to (a) explore your interests and passions while also (b) learning how to create value and create money. (Location 5357)

We'd argue that you can find passion, meaning, and impact in anything you do—whether it's cleaning houses, writing software, or working at a bank—if you look for it. (Location 5361)

Remember that those successful people whom you're following (including ourselves) still have plenty of problems. It's just more fun to write about how awesome life is than to share the sucky parts—especially on social media where your friends are watching. (Location 5376)

A company is responsible to employees, not for employees. It can create the conditions for your fulfillment: a safe work environment, no assholes, fair pay, career opportunities, and an honest culture. (Location 5415)

You need a support system. You need to find people that believe in you. But depending on them for advice is different from being dependent on them for answers. (Location 5426)

And like you, I suffer from procrastination, perfectionism, confusion, and erratic motivation. What, you say? “Aaron, you went from 0 to 12 kids while publishing multiple books, grew your income by leaps and bounds, released a Predictable Revenue software product, while (usually) working 20–30 hours a week. And you say you get confused and are erratically motivated?! (Location 5440)

What's one thing people like Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson have in common? They are examples of people who are superb at selling (Location 5551)

Your primary goal should not be to close a deal, but to help your “customers” solve problems and realize success. (Location 5561)

ABL: “Always Be Learning”: If you close zero out of 10 opportunities, step back and figure out what needs to change. (Location 5589)

People buy on their time, not yours: Don't be desperate or needy. (Location 5594)

And Meaning Snobs can go on and on about how meaning is more important than money, or how impactful their gigs are … and that's great. (Location 5671)

For Avanoo's Daniel Jacobs, building a meaningful business didn't take off until he put money first, realizing that without being able to create predictable revenue or funding, nothing he created—however inspiring or meaningful—would last. (Location 5674)

Don't assume that meaning will only come only from quitting your job and finding some exotic new occupation. (Location 5712)

but start by finding more meaning in the little things you already do every day: (Location 5714)

A great brand (personal or business) repels as much as it attracts. Because it stands for something. And when you stand for something, no matter what it is, many others are bound to disagree. (Location 5736)

Instead of thinking about all the stuff you could or should do, what do you want to do? (Location 5742)