I’m a firm believer that no lead should be ignored – even if you can’t sell to each and every one.
At Add1Zero, we work at the bottom of the sales funnel. We count on our clients’ marketing teams to generate qualified leads – once they agree to a meeting, that’s where our world begins.
However, sometimes people come to us and are simply not ready to be an Add1Zero customer at this time. It’s crucial at this point not to treat them poorly. You should talk to them in a respectful, even educational, way.
We’ve all had the experience of being brushed off by a business, and it doesn’t feel good. At the same time, you remember if you spoke to a company that knows you’re not a good fit for them but treats you well anyway. If you have a great experience with them – they recommend a competitor, or give you a few tips to help with the situation you find yourself in now – you’ll tell your friends about it.
So if, for instance, it quickly becomes clear that a prospect’s budget won’t allow them to invest in what you’re selling, you can give them advice about shopping at their level, other places they can go and pitfalls they should be careful to avoid. You can help people to cut corners, and meanwhile ask them to remember you so that when they reach a certain threshold they can return.
What you take for granted could be your special sauce
All business is about genuine conversations. That’s how Add1Zero started; I was contacted by people who knew I’d sold millions of dollars worth of deals. At that time I was thinking about starting my own company and as those conversations developed, I asked if they’d like to be my client – our longest term clients came on board that way.
That happened a couple of times and I had the confidence to keep talking – and people kept giving me good feedback. There was a weird turning point when I realised that what I was saying mattered to them. It’s a reminder that we all have unique skills, things you take for granted, and in fact it’s your special sauce. It seems easy to you, it feels like common sense, but that’s actually what you should be selling. I just did what I knew made sense and what had worked for me. It turned out it worked for other people too.
Take time to review what it is people want to buy from you
This underscores for me the importance of going through the exercise of stepping back from your business every few months to see what you are actually selling. You might be surprised to find that the service your clients are asking for is not the product your website focuses on.
In our case, I don’t think we even knew that revenue operations as a service could be a product. But we looked at what our customers wanted and realized that was what we could carve off and turn that into more business. It helped us to be clear about what we do. I’m a big fan of niching and we now have a really tight niche – and it only took me 13 startups and many more years to figure it out!
The only thing I’m passionate about is making you revenue
We all have hobbies, and that’s a good thing, but this is your business we’re talking about. The only question is: can you make money from doing it? That’s a business decision and you don’t need to get emotional about it. I’ll illustrate this by saying that we often get asked if we’re passionate about the products we help our clients to sell. The honest answer is sometimes “no, I’m not passionate about the thing you provide.” You can be passionate about it; what I’m passionate about is making you revenue, pouring gas into the machine for you. If I was passionate about the product or service I’m selling, I would start up a business and sell it for myself.
There are few things worse than building your own prison
This brings me to another reason why analyzing on a regular basis what it is you are doing is such a good idea. It’s valuable to review why you are in business, and whether you are being true to the values and vision you started out with. It’s far too easy to wake up two or three months into the life of your business and realize you don’t know what your teams are up to or where your organization is going.
You have an innate sense, a gut instinct that something is wrong. It’s worth paying attention to that instinct that things are slightly off-kilter. I’ve been there myself, waking up and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning to go to your own company because you hate it. You realise you literally built your own prison, which is horrible.
The best way to put it is: Slow down to speed up. Be mindful at all times while you are building your team that you are staying true to the values and aims of the business.
Ignore the temptation to chase whales
Similarly, I’d advise you to ignore the temptation to take on a client that is ten times the size of your usual customer. It can kill your company. If a “whale” of a prospect swims through your door, it’s easy to think you’re ready to go and you’ll make a lot of money – but it takes ten times as much work and is ten times the burden on your systems and processes. You just made a bet-the-company decision and you’re probably going to fail and lose the clients that were actually paying the bills.
Take time to write down your company’s values
I’m not an advocate of sitting down on day one and drawing up a vision statement and a mission statement – I’d rather have a business first.
At the same time, I’m glad we’ve taken time to write down our four values at Add1Zero:
1) Revenue. Revenue always comes first.
2) Integrity. There are shady ways to get revenue – don’t go there.
3) Calm confidence. We aim to build a revenue operations system that is so good that I can get on any call and legitimately not care if I close on it. I like being able to say to our clients’ prospects: “I know what we’re doing here is the best thing for your business, and you need to know it. If you hang up today and don’t buy it, that isn’t going to hurt me at all – but it might hurt you.” Having the confidence to be able to say that as a salesperson is tremendous.
4) Shared abundance. If we make people money, we want to make sure we spread it around and take care of our staff, give bonuses and raises, and make donations.
Treat people well and they will remember you
I come back to the point I made at the start. Treat people well and they may come back to you many years later. I worked at a desk next to a guy a long time ago and he later came into a lot of money. He reached out to me and said he had heard I was launching a new business, that he was looking to invest, and that he’d always thought I was cool. This was 12 years later. Things like that happen if you stay in the game long enough and maintain the good relationships you have had. It’s very important to think that way long-term.