“Oh no! I have too much money.” – Nobody
We are going to talk about selling.
Most of my career was been spent selling software services. Building a business that creates technology for the ideas of others. In this model, network building was the only strategy that ever worked for me.
It was high touch, imprecise, time consuming, and highly dependent on me. I enjoy meeting people and love conversations but hate the unpredictable results. Growth became associated with frustration.
For years, I’ve hunted for resources to gain an edge in selling. These are some of the best books I’ve found:
- Traction by Gabriel Weinberg
- The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone
- Never Split the Different by Chris Voss
- Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount
- Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross
- From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
- Play Bigger by Al Ramadan
- This is Marketing by Seth Godin
- Never Lose a Customer Again by Joey Coleman
Alongside these resources, I’m fortunate to belong to a small, local group of fellow service agency owners who swap secrets and strategies. Super niche. Priceless. The most consistent struggles and needs revolve around sales, marketing, and cashflow.
We have 99 problems and money is always one of them.
When growing a business, revenue (money coming in) is typically the largest barrier to growth. Compounding the struggle, industries are constantly evolving. Customer appetites and interests are always changing. Sales are a moving target.
It’s a balancing act where we must provide enough value today but keep an eye on upcoming trends.
I made a massive mistake.
Over time I became restless. I was discontent with our proven sales strategy. To breakout, I began investing in alternatives to drive new business. I was weary of what worked and started new, experimental options. I did not add, I replaced.
Instead of continuing what worked while researching alternatives, I redirected too much attention. This was a painful mistake. Sales declined before the new methods had time to work. In hindsight, I should have started experimenting before burnout and invested more in what was working.
What’s the right split?
How to we push forward with what works today yet invest in future opportunities?
I have no clue. As mentioned, I screwed it up and the company paid the price. We can’t neglect what is working in pursuit of what might work.
Recently, I’ve been trying an approach I heard from Reid Hoffman on Masters of Scale (podcast). It’s imperfect, but seems like an appropriate baseline.
- Core Business – What works. Low risk. (70%)
- Extension – Slight deviations. Medium risk. (30%)
- Venture – Big bets. High risk. (10%)
The largest amount of time, money, and resources spent on what we know works. We shouldn’t ignore ‘big bets’, but the risk should be inversely related to our investment.
This thinking provides a framework to invest in new ways of growth, without gambling our future.
Growth isn’t a secret.
Increase acquisition of customers, at a lower cost, and higher value.
Improve each without negatively impacting the others. The business grows.
What resources have you found helpful as it relates to increasing traction?
PS. We talk about growth and traction like a gas pedal, but that is misleading. That analogy implies one source for momentum and a direct correlation between effort and outcomes. It doesn’t happen like that.
Morgan J Lopes
BTW… I switched the order of the recommendations. If you read this far, let me know which you prefer.