One of the most useful questions you can ask yourself in business is also one of the simplest: What is it that you actually do?
To put it another way, why do people pay you money for the services you provide them? The best method of discovering the answer to this question is to put it to your existing clients – and the answer may surprise you.
This is an exercise we carry out many times when Add1Zero starts working with a client. We go to the people who are already buying from them and gain an understanding of what they are getting from the relationship.
More often than you might think, the answer is far from what our client might have expected. For example, one company we worked with was convinced their strongest selling point was the quality and complexity of their offering. In fact, their customers said: “They offer great customer service. Their process is smooth, we don’t have to manage them, it’s hassle-free.”
We went back to our client and told them: “Listen, nobody cares about all those features; they stick with you because it’s not a pain to work with you. Let’s focus on that.”
They ended up actually trademarking the hassle-free process. That was what mattered to their customers – so that was where the value lay.
Shortening the sales cycle makes a major difference to our clients
Your special sauce can often have a hidden ingredient – as we found with the development of Add1Zero. It’s easy to over-complicate things when you try to sell your own product, because what you do comes easily to you. You almost take it for granted.
In our case, we realized that nobody went out and simply tried to represent clients and sell things and bring them more revenue. That’s what people care about. Surely it couldn’t be that easy?
We focus on the simple things, then we learn ways to make an operation more efficient. Quite often, the process of buying from one of our clients has a lot of friction, which makes it more difficult for people to buy from them and pay them money.
If we can fix that, shorten the sales cycle and make it more efficient, that will really help. It’s a lot of work, and it can take about 60 days to figure things out. We will immediately start making calls, so that while we’re carrying out a customer discovery process, we’re also trying to win early revenue.
We work with companies whose revenue is about half a million dollars. Our mission is to figure out how to get them to five million, and to take them there. That process is part art and part science, paying attention to data while running the plays.
We make it easy for people to buy and consume what you create
The path to sales is simplicity. I have a theory that no founder ever wakes up in the night sweating about anything except the need for more sales. We distill that need down into a process that sells, based on value rather than features.
All too often, service companies customize every engagement to meet each customer’s need because of the perception that no two customers are the same. That works well to develop revenue up to the point where we step in.
To scale you need to standardize. What we do is to look at everything our clients do for their customers and package that into tight buckets. There are not too many variables involved in that.
Founders – and I include myself in this – get really down in the weeds and obsess about the details and features of this thing we’ve created. We love our “baby”, we want to sell it and tell people everything about it.
What we do is make it easy for people to buy and consume what you create, and get that down to very basic value statements. It always turns out that there really are not many things we need to tell the customer; what we do need to do is listen to the customer and then explain to them the value of what we do.
It’s not as hard as you think to distill what a company does and turn it into a set of deliverables that we can sell, or train people to sell for themselves.
We don’t know how to create your product, but we know how to sell it
Everybody wants us to be able to distill the magic for them. The objective for us, and the vision for our company, is that we want the founders we work with never to have to worry about cash flow again.
We’re happy to advise and try to help you turn your people and processes into a magic money-making machine. But that’s actually more difficult than simply doing it for you.
I’d like to say we are a transformational machine that can just give you a playbook of the things that it took us 20 years to figure out. That’s not always the case – but we’ll be happy to help.
More often than not, it’s more beneficial to let us come in and run the entire revenue function for you, while you become an excellent operator who can deliver flawlessly for your clients.
We don’t know how to do your thing, but we do know how to wrap up your thing with a really pretty package and sell it so you can concentrate on doing your thing.
We learn from every client to make our company stronger
Every client we work with makes our company stronger. For instance, we recently had a client who, we realized, delivered a completely unique product for every single customer.
They were doing eight hours of free consulting for every prospect that walked through the door. If you close only five percent of those, that’s an enormous amount of wasted effort.
What we were able to do was turn that consultation into a one-hour process so that we could pass very quickly from prospect to consultation to execution. In that way, we were saving seven-eighths of the time they would otherwise have put into it. We learned something from that, as we do from every client.
How the remote sales zeitgeist has shifted in our favor
I would never say I was glad that everybody had to go through the Covid-19 pandemic. We make money only when clients make money; so we did see a bit of a dip there.
However, from a broader demand perspective, we were the ones shaking the tree in 2019, saying you could sell anything you do through a Zoom call. People would tell us: “No, you can’t do that for us – you need to do in-person sales, you need to travel.”
All of a sudden, the conversation and the zeitgeist shifted in our favor. People were really keen to know how you sell millions of dollars of products on a Zoom call, because they now needed to do that. It’s no longer weird to have a completely remote sales force.
We did see tremendous growth in 2020, and I would attribute that to the fact that there’s a bit more openness to new paradigms of sales, and people need to think differently about their processes now.