What foolish and self-destructive behaviors do small business owners and corporations most frequently engage in that restrict their capacity for growth?
Small business owners and corporations frequently avoid marketing and place too much emphasis on the tactical side of marketing without a comprehensive strategy, which limits their capacity to grow.
How can marketing experts ascertain the demands and preferences of their clients?
By talking to and questioning their customers as well as researching their purchasing patterns, marketing professionals can gain an understanding of their requirements and preferences.
Which of the seven multipliers (audience, leads, prospects, follow-up, clients, initial sales value, and lifetime value of the client) to focus on while establishing each multiplier can be determined by asking oneself these five crucial questions?
The following five crucial inquiries should be answered in order to decide which of the seven multipliers to concentrate on: Who is my ideal client? Are they viewing my belongings? Do they participate and contribute? Purchases are they frictionless? Do they purchase more and recommend me to others?
Marcus Cauchi: Hello and welcome back once again to The Inquisitor Podcast with me, Marcus Cauchi.
Marcus Cauchi: Today it's a genuine pleasure to have as my guest Adam King.
Marcus Cauchi: Adam is founder of Think Like A Fish and he's also the host of The B2B Growth Think Tank Podcast. Adam, welcome.
Adam King: Hey, thanks for very much for having me on Marcus. It's good to be here.
Marcus Cauchi: My pleasure. Adam is a specialist in helping people get out of their own way and outta their own heads when they overcomplicate the whole process of building their business through generating new clients. So today, we're gonna be talking about why we need to ask better questions and why we need a strategy that's actually fit for purpose rather than working dumber and harder.
60 seconds on your background
Marcus Cauchi: So, Adam, would you mind giving us 60 seconds on your background first, please?
Adam King: Yeah, wow. I mean, I've, I've been in marketing or as I say, fishing in the marketing orders and you will detect the other nautical and fishing reference in the things that I say. Yeah, for about 18 years now. And, I've gone from, you know, junior marketer, up to head of marketing, director of marketing corporate world and then decided to take the plunge and start my own thing which was about five years ago. Just before my, first daughter was born, which is probably the worst time whatsoever to do it.
Adam King: And it's been through a number of iterations over that time but now it so focused on helping B2B and professional services, businesses to unlock the hidden revenue potential in their business. And we do that by helping them build the processes and business development system that encourages that consistency and also takes away a lot of the overwhelm and all of the bullshit that goes along with so much that is in the marketing world.
What are the most common acts of idiocy and self sabotage that you see small business owners and corporates are committing that limit their capability for growth?
Marcus Cauchi: Well let, let's start with the bullshit and the acts of idiocy. What are the most common acts of idiocy and self sabotage that you see small business owners and corporates as well committing on themselves that limit their capability for growth?
Adam King: Well, the first one is, is that they don't do marketing. And they'll sort of claim that they, it's almost like a badge of honor. While we don't do market, we generate our business through referrals and all that kind of thing. Well, that's great until it dries up and that's great until it doesn't work. And there's inconsistency when it comes to that.
Adam King: I think the other one, the big mistake that people make is they focus very, very heavily on, on the tactical side of marketing. So the questions I often get is, how do I generate leads? How do I use LinkedIn? Could be things like, should I be on Clubhouse right now? What about Facebook ads? What about is it like all those sorts of things, one of those tactical things. They can work and all of them do work, but they don't work in isolation. And the biggest mistake out of all of them is that people don't have that cohesive strategy and they think that their big problem is lead generation, whereas they're actually their big problem is that they have a strategy problem.
Adam King: They don't have a lead gen problem they have a strategy problem and that strategy is all about basically how you are serving a particular type of client, the kind of problem that you're solving, the offers that you're making, all the foundations and all that sort of thing. And then how you translate the goals and the objectives that you have into a bit of a business into actually going out to market and attracting that attention and, and bringing them into your world or ecosystem as I call it, and then taking them through a, a sort of client success journey to becoming a, an actual client with you or doing business with you or referring.
Mapping client success journey creating a results flywheel
Marcus Cauchi: You described that process of mapping that client success journey as creating a results flywheel.
Marcus Cauchi: Do you mind elaborating what you mean by that?
Adam King: Sure. So I think that what often happens with service provider is if you compare, let, let's give an example. If you compare a Michelin star restaurant to say, I dunno, like a restaurant that you might find on your high street or something like that. The Michelin star restaurant has a very much smaller menu and they do it very, very well.
Adam King: Whereas if you go to some, some restaurants, they literally have four pages of a menu that you can choose from and all the rest of it. So they're never really getting very, very specialized in a particular way of preparing a dish. And the difference is, well, it costs a lot more to go to a Michelin star restaurant than it does to a more generic restaurant.
Adam King: So having a results fly with, it's kind of like with a service based business. A lot of people out there or other businesses, they, they kind of have a menu of services and they're sort of going to their client, well, you pick what you want or will try and sort of put something together and it's very customized a lot of time while the rest of it.
Adam King: Whereas if you actually look at it from the perspective client, is what is it that they want, what is the outcome, what is the result that they want and how can you get them that result? What is the process, what are the steps, what are the problems that they need to solve to achieve that big outcome? And how do you map that out and how do you show it visually and clearly?
Growth Accelerator Ecosystem
Adam King: I mean, my example is I, my, my system is called the Growth Accelerator Ecosystem. There's three stages and nine parts to that. So there's nine little transformations or smaller problems that need to be solved along the path to actually achieving an outcome. So being able to show that clear path, it gives clarity. And one of the, one of the most important things that you can give to a potential client, a client, is clarity. Like, this is how we solve your problem. We take you from where you are now, you know, your struggle, your pain, your, whatever you wanna call it, to the desired outcome that you want. So you always talk about the result, and this is the approval process that we take you through to achieve that result.
Adam King: And a lot of people out there don't use it. And the beauty of having this results flywheel, is it's a tool that you can use to communicate what you do and the value you provide to a client. But it's also, it simplifies what you do as a business because ultimately what will happen is the things that you use to actually deliver that result become the things that you use to acquire clients. So your delivery becomes your client attraction, your marketing, all the things that you use. You can use that to attract clients.
What are the qualities that make it a flywheel rather than just a process?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, so what are the qualities that make it a flywheel rather than just a process?
Adam King: It's that flywheel process because it builds on itself and the things that you create. And it becomes a process of optimization in the delivery that you do. You become very specialized delivering a result and you will always look to improve and optimize within that. Which means you can feed it into your acquisition.
Adam King: So the more results that you get with clients, the better that you can communicate that those type, type of results for potential clients. So it just builds, the success builds on itself and it becomes that flywheel. And it means that you're not endlessly creating content. It means you're not endlessly thinking what do I do to attract clients?
Adam King: You've got your process, you've got the things that you do that you know generate success. And so the success breeds the success.
What are the big stages or steps one needs to have in place to create flywheel?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, so what, what are the difference looking at a macro level, what are the big stages or steps one needs to have in place to create such a flywheel?
Adam King: So first of all, you need to know what the result that you achieve for a client is, or what the desired outcome is of your, your ideal client. So that first stage is knowing who that idea client is. You need to, be able to define it, you need to be able to be very clear, where are they, where are they hanging out, what are the things that they're talking about, what are the things they read, who else has them in their sphere of influence?
Adam King: All that kind of stuff. And you need to be able to define that and everyone gets a little bit bored when they hear you got to know your ideal client but the difference between getting this right and get this wrong is huge because sometimes one of the biggest ways to grow or most effective ways to grow your business is actually to change your target because
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely.
Adam King: If you are, if you are attracting people that are dragging their heels, if you're on a sales call and you're constantly getting price objections or you're constantly getting objections around all sorts of other things. It could be that the target that you are going after is actually the wrong type of client for the solution that you offer, so change your targeting.
Ideal customer may change subtly over time
Marcus Cauchi: Another really important aspect of understanding your ideal customer profile is that that ideal customer may change subtly over time. And the CRO for a company called White Rabbit and we came across a company that has had the same ICP for the last 30 years. And they were wondering why their sales had been slowly declining over time.
Marcus Cauchi: Your ideal customer profile may shift from month to month very subtlety depending on seasonality, depending on economic conditions, depending on where you are in your business. And in the same way using this, the analogy that Adam used earlier, the Michelin star restaurant versus the roadside calf, you need to be aware of who you can bring the most value to and where there is that natural fit to both sides.
A partnership is where both sides help each other to get better
Marcus Cauchi: I think one of the mistakes I see so many organizations make is they don't really see their customers as their partners. When I define a partner, a partnership is where both sides help each other to get better. And if you really understand who your ideal customer is, then you can be responsive, you can be relevant and you can be reliable to them.
Marcus Cauchi: But it's that relevance that's really key. I, if you are not in close cahoots with them, listening deeply, understanding the direction that they are headed, then chances are they will outgrow you. And this is one of the big reasons why companies experience churn.
Marcus Cauchi: We've all worked with companies that we've loved working with and the experience has been exceptional. But at some point they became no longer relevant to delivering the outcomes we were renting from them.
Marcus Cauchi: As a result of that, they then shifted to somebody else. Let's say, nice things about us. But now we've lost a customer. Then we've now got a tariff to replace them. And turn is expensive not only because you lose the lifetime value ongoing, but now you have the massive expense of trying to bring more prospects into the top your sales pipeline or funnel, which I know you hate.
Marcus Cauchi: Then you have to go through the cost of selling to them. Now, if you close one in four at final stage, that means that you probably need to go and it takes you three meetings. That's 12 hours that you've got to sync into just meeting prospects. When you add to that, the inordinate time and cost that goes into prospecting by phone, the average conversion, from dial to a second meeting, which means that you are relevant in the first meeting and it advanced is 0.03%. The average open rate on emails in an opt-in list is two and a half percent. That's not people who click through or take any action or buy, cause those numbers shrink massively. And digital advertising on average gets a 1.73% click through rate of one click or none.
Adam King: It's crazy.
Marcus Cauchi: It's crazy.
Adam King: And that's, I think that like one of the, I think that's why I get so frustrated when the questions that sort of come to me are all around. How do I do this tactical, or how do I go and do Facebook, how do I do whatever is, is kind of like, that might be the best thing for you, but where does it fit within the goals that you have set for yourself?
Adam King: Like, is it the right thing for you to do? Now, it may be, it may not be, but they always comes back to your strategy, your foundations. Like, what are you trying to achieve? A lot of people, when I ask that question what are your goals, what are, where are you trying to get to? They haven't got a coherent answer. It just doesn't, It's almost like they just want to grow. Or I just want more clients or, and it's a bit like, well, if you don't know where you're going, then you could end up off, you know, literally it's like going out in the open ocean. You know, on a boat without rudder, you are a complete victim to where the, where the tide takes you.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Adam King: Whereas if you haven't set that goal, that realistic goal, based on where you are now, where you want to get to, that's only when you know those two pieces can you actually start to sort of, you know, draw that map or, or work out. Do I take trains, planes, automobiles, you know, tactics or that go into it.
Marcus Cauchi: Again, I think it's really important when people are thinking about where they want to get to, that they tie their personal objectives to those corporate objectives. And you've gotta start with those personal ones. Cause In my experience, where I've set myself business goals and they haven't been tied to an emotional hook that is personal to me, it's very easy to get derailed or distracted.
Marcus Cauchi: And, I, I interviewed David Heiman for the podcast and we had a big chat about big hairy, audacious goals. And what's really interesting is I've set myself four and they're huge.
Marcus Cauchi: The first one is to take eight companies to a billion dollars over the next eight years from a 10 to $50 million tele-turnover or revenue at the moment. And do so without the wings and wheels coming off, without having to sacrifice their values by attracting lifetime customers who love working with you. And where you are constantly relevant in delivering outcomes. And where you've developed a revenue operation, marketing, sales, pre-sales, channel, customer success, account growth, operations, professional services that are all aligned around the customer. And everyone is hyper engaged. So they love giving discretionary effort. They cannot wait to come to work on a Monday. Now, that's the first goal.
Marcus Cauchi: Second one is to fix the problems that I see in marketing because of all the, you know, those terrible statistics that we saw at the beginning.
Marcus Cauchi: Third one is to prove why the current setup for most venture capital and private equity is morally corrupt to broken and bankrupt. And that the right kind of investors are focused on developing. They invest because they want the company to be successful. They do not drive the kind of behavior that creates transactional culture where the wrong type of sales people, the wrong type of selling, selling behavior and wrong type of management occur. And the fourth one is to turn sales into a genuine force for good.
Marcus Cauchi: Now, the fourth one, I think is the hardest of all. The others are really about the mechanics, finding the right people and so on. But the fourth one requires a huge shift in culture of an entire global profession.
Adam King: Well, I do think that there are some people out there that share that view already. Not as many as we would like, but sales is a force for good. It is ultimately, you know, it's, it's the, the highest profession in the world when it's done well and all the rest of it, but nothing happens until the sale is make. And we're, you know, we we're always selling. Like as human beings, we're selling our ideas, we're selling our beliefs, we're selling, you know, we're what we have for dinners for our children. You know, all, all that sort of thing.
Adam King: We're constantly selling. But the way that I think is, is as we've had the conversations, the way that so much of it is, is set up. It's not, which ultimately it should be in the interest of the end buyer but in the interest of the company.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely.
Adam King: And it's, and I picked that up in a number of things that you said there. It's the ethos at center of my business. I think like a fish metaphor is all around that. It's think like the fish, not the fishing. And even if you love chocolate cake, you're not gonna catch your favorite fish with that on the end of your hook because they like worm. Give them worms and, and I think there was one thing in there as well, and you sort of thought, you know, investors that want to invest to help grow the company and improve the company.
Adam King: I, I think that maybe there is even something there. It's you want to attract investors that want to make their client or their customer successful.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Adam King: Like that takes it even sort of further because that's ultimately, however, I often say, your clients are your boss in a way because they pay your wages, they pay your staff wages, they, they support the lifestyle that you have.
Adam King: So why wouldn't you put them in the center of your business? And that is the thing that ultimately frustrates me, is when a business is so focused on itself and this is a little bit more in established businesses than, you know, newer businesses that kind of get this. But I, you know, back in my corporate days used to drive me nuts.
Adam King: When all the, the powers that big would want is we want a better brochure. It's like nobody gives a flying, about your brochure. Yeah, Yeah a flying fuck about your brochure, right? They just don't, they don't care how long you've been in business. They don't care how many awards you've won. They just care about how they can achieve a result or how they can go from where they are now to where they want. They're trying to escape from something and they're trying to arrive at a different destination. So if you can encapsulate what that looks like in your client's lives, it actually opens up so many different opportunities for different solutions around what you actually do and what we are talking about earlier. That's how you evolve, that's where your results flywheel comes in because you constantly see what is going on with your customer.
What part does speaking to the customer play?
Marcus Cauchi: This is one of the most important things that I think far people in marketing do. Is they don't actually speak to living, breathing human beings who might be their customer. Founders don't go to the prospective customers with their half-assed, half-baked idea and test it with them and find out how they can break it and then come back, address those issues, and then go back to those customers and say, right, we've listened.
Marcus Cauchi: Here's how we've improved it in line with what you want. Will you pay money for it? Now, that's the litmus test. Will they spend money on it? And, I think what I'm really interested to find out is in your process to understand your customer's ICP, what part does speaking to the customer play?
Adam King: Well, as I say, I've been doing this for over 18 years, and the way I've, I've kind of honed down exactly how you, you understand what your clients want, what your customers want, and and I've got it to an absolute fine art. And it is actually quite simple. You ask them, but you actually go and talk to people and I know that sounds crazy.
Marcus Cauchi: Holy figure.
Adam King: It's amazing. Yeah, I know. It's crazy. So, part of your process is always about feedback. It's talking to people. If you are going out and you are looking or thinking about starting a new initiative in your business, well, the first thing you do is you go and find a select few clients and you talk to them. You ask them questions. You find out about things that are going on with them. You know, what's your, you know, what's going on in your business? What is your biggest challenge at the moment? If you could wave a magic wand and, and solve one particular issue or challenge in your business in the next 90 days, what would that be? What have you tried in the past? How are you, or how are you trying to solve that problem now? What is the cost of not solving this problem?
Adam King: Now it's just questions around your client. You haven't once spoken about a new initiative or a service or a product. You're finding out what it is that's going on in your client's world that they potentially need help with. So that's one way of doing it. The other way of doing it is actually going back and asking them, what have you bought? You know, so basically finding out they're buying history because you, the, your clients buying history of things other than you will give you clues and indicators of where a potential demand is in the future. I know so many people don't do that. A simple question around. I don't know, let's say you are, you are running a, a SUSS company that does graphic software.
Adam King: You can then go to your clients, your customers and say, other than graphic software, what have you recently bought in your business software wise that actually, that you've, you've wanted to use to grow your business or something like that? Like that's a very simple question. And that will uncover the buying history. And that is a much better indicator of future demand than asking people what they want, because a lot of the time they don't know.
Marcus Cauchi: Faster horse. So I interviewed Karen Mangia from Salesforce and she was mentoring this lady and customer success and she'd gone out and she'd done listening to the customer and presented back the findings. And the company had spent quite a large amount of money not having spoken to the customer on this new product development.
Your customers are your best teachers
Marcus Cauchi: And I quote," the CEO said, I've taken a captain's call. We're gonna stick with what we're doing". Cost them hundreds of millions. So part of the challenge here is you need to be able to subsume your ego. Your customers are your best teachers. They will tell you how to sell to them. They will tell you what products they will be willing to buy and do not ask them what they want for the future.
Marcus Cauchi: Find out the directions that they are trying to take. What's the strategy that they have? How can you align what you are offering with their strategy? Now, in all fairness, many of them have flawed strategies as well. If you're in the professional services business, then it might purview to help them define a clear strategy.
A strategy should be simple
Marcus Cauchi: And a strategy should be simple. It may be sophisticated but not complicated. And I think very often what we see when people put strategy together is they have way too many components and steps and everybody tries to get their all in. Then you end up a horse designed by a committee, a camel.
Adam King: Well, I often say that the, the key to a great strategy, it's as much as what you leave out is what you put in to it.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely.
Adam King: And that's where the simplification piece comes in it's, it's how do I get more leverage from the things that I'm doing? And leverage is simply small actions that create large results by exponentially larger results from the smaller actions. So it's all about, your strategy is all about finding what I, you know, I call them the revenue multipliers.
Adam King: What are the revenue multiplier or the growth multipliers in your business? And while I've identified seven of them. And you can look at all of those seven revenue multipliers in a business and think, okay, I can build my strategy around these. But I don't even have to do all seven. Because if I can pinpoint the places where the most leverage exists, that is where I will focus, say the strategy for the next 12 months.
Adam King: Cause your strategy as much as your ICP, as your, you know, your ideal client, all that kind of thing, it needs to revolve. Because what you're gonna be focusing on in the next 12 months is not gonna be the same as, you know, three, five years. So it's all about sort of coming back to it and evolving it and all that kind of thing.
Adam King: And it really is about sort of going right where, where is that value? You know, where is, that's why I sort of, you know, I talk about what we do is we actually uncover the hidden revenue because most people don't look at these seven areas of a business.
Marcus Cauchi: Could you say what they are?
Seven revenue multiplier
Adam King: So it's it's audience, leads, prospects, follow up, clients, initial sales value and lifetime value of the client.
Marcus Cauchi: Right. Okay.
Marcus Cauchi: And when you're going through that discovery process or that definition of each of those seven multipliers, what are the questions that you should be asking yourself in order to identify which of those seven you should be really focused on?
Adam King: So it's kind of like, it's almost like a process and you can, the five key, there's five key questions that you can ask yourself.
Adam King: And it's kind of like all around, you know, the audience side of things. It's like, who is my ideal client? Do I know that? And so it's not always about volume, it's about quality as well. Like we covered early. Who's your ideal client when it comes to the, the lead side of things, it's, are they seeing your stuff?
Adam King: Is there visibility? Are you getting out there enough? Which is the term I absolutely hate, but a lot of people will understand it when it comes to beliefs. Do they engage? Do they give a share? Are they responding? Are they asking for your stuff? Sales? Do they buy? Are people buying? Are they buying frictionlessly or are they buying in a way that is a bit more like some of the things you talk about?
Adam King: They, they, they have to be a bit joke and the last thing is, is, is kind of like the value side of it. It's it's do they buy more and do they refer others to you? So within just those five questions, you can then identify what parts or which of the seven multipliers of it. And, and I have a, a, a tool that I use called the Revenue Multiply Calculator and I can give a copy of that to, to your listeners if you wish.
Marcus Cauchi: Please.
Adam King: Igottothinklikeafish.co.UK/calculator. And this basically, there's a bit of a training with it, so literally explain how you do this. And it will calculate the parts of your business that have the biggest opportunity for work. And by focusing on, and to be honest with you, I find you know, the old 80-20 rule applies.
Adam King: Normally, the highest leverage points in your business are improving your offer, number one. Because your offer is all around the problem that you solve, how you package it, et cetera, etcetera. But that also encapsulates your ideal client. And if you can encapsulate all of that into a, what I call it, a diamite offer that has the potential to increase everything else.
Adam King: And it's, and, and the other thing is follow up. They're often two of the biggest leverage points in a business because people don't follow up. You spend so much money on generating leads, leads and interests and all the rest of it, but we just, you know, especially if it's a sales led business, they just fall through the crack, cracks or it just makes no sense to me like why you spend so much.
Marcus Cauchi: One of the most common problems that I see, and it's symptomatic of virtually every business I've ever come across is they spend a fortune generating the wrong type of leads. Then they swamp themselves and their sales team with follow-ups. I, I've, in the last couple of years I've spoken to lots of tech companies and two come to mind where they were getting a thousand inbound leads, where people were downloading white papers or downloading their software.
Marcus Cauchi: And on average, the conversion rate per month was six. Now that's 994 wasted attempts that your sales people are tied up on because you're attracting the wrong kind of people. And again, if you don't understand who your customer is and who has the authority to purchase what you have to offer, then chances are you will be attracting their opos, their operational people who haven't, they have minor influence and their job is to go out and find information.
Marcus Cauchi: So this is really in the passive looking phase as opposed to identifying customers or having customers volunteer themselves. In that transition from a, passive to active looking where they are trying to find out what possibilities are available to them. And unless your marketing process helps you to identify when those people are making that transition and the type of behavior and the type of language that, they will exhibit, you'll end up spending an awful lot of time on depressing follow-up. And what I've found is that they just start to think another bloody lead from marketing, is it really worth it? And then you've spent all that money and all you've ended up doing is giving away a lot of money to Google and Facebook.
Adam King: Well, there's a couple of things in there that come to mind and, and the first one is the importance of having sales and marketing alignment and that just is, it, it, it, it still baffles me how much of a rarity that is. Sales and marketing a lot from like cats and dogs are fight like that live together, but they just don't get on right?
Sales is a subset of marketing
Marcus Cauchi: Bluntly. Sales is a subset of marketing.
Adam King: Yeah, and it's, it's a bit like, well most of the time I find that businesses they don't purely, they don't take the time required to define what a marketing qualified lead is and a sales qualified lead. Because each of them have a different idea. Like the best thing that you can do if you run a business that has sales and marketing is sit everybody in a room and thrash it out like what is a sales qualified lead? What is a marketing qualified lead? How do we take a marketing qualified lead and make it a sales qualified lead? What is that process? What is that journey? And I often sort of say that it's like a sales qualified lead is when somebody actually reaches out and and has been through your marketing process and then self identifies by raising their hand like they want to have a conversation.
Adam King: Now that is in an ideal world.
Marcus Cauchi: It's really important also to understand that most prospects who are moving from marketing to sales, so forgive me, but BANT is bollocks, okay? It's a selfish and stupid way to go about trying to qualify an opportunity. Yes, you do need to get that information, but if you try and get that information too early, you're just gonna attract people to lie to you.
Marcus Cauchi: If you're dealing with the gofer and you ask them, do you have a budget? Oh yeah, there's money set aside for this. That doesn't mean that there is money. Do you have the authority? Oh, yeah, absolutely. They're in charge of toilet cleaner and, and you, they're doing a search to find out whether or not you can, you know, the right ERP vendor for them.
Marcus Cauchi: But that's the, you know, they've been assigned to go out and do some research. Stop wasting your time. And I, I hear this an awful lot from marketing people. Particularly when they're trying to get outsource lead generation companies involved. What they should be doing is, instead of trying to get a BANT qualified lead, is find someone who's in your ideal customer profile and is likely to want the outcomes that you can deliver and is likely to have the problems that you can help them to get away from unfixed.
Marcus Cauchi: That's ample for a capable sales person to take on. They don't need to know whether or not there is budget. If you're halfway decent at selling, you'll find budget that is unplanned. If it's planned, chances are you're in an RFP and based on corporate visions research with Stanford, 10.6% buying cycles end up in an RFP with a one in four average win rate.
Marcus Cauchi: That means you're betting your business on the hope that you'll have a 2.6% chance of winning. 60% are buying cycles in the same research study ended up in the status quo. Now that's because the sales people and the marketing was not relevant, didn't end up displacing their current preferences and didn't allay their future concerns about regret and blame for making the wrong decision, and they didn't differentiate. Only about 30% of sales actually end up going into a proper sales cycle where a salesperson helps them to identify how they can solve their problem. Marketing's role prior to handing it on to sales is to make sure that that customer goes through the making space, trying to find ways to solve their problem, starting to see those possibilities so that when they are making the trade offs between your proposition and two or three others, then you are already the front runner because you've helped them formulate their thinking.
Marcus Cauchi: And I think this is probably where your flywheel concept really comes into.
Adam King: I was about to say a hundred percent because what the flywheel does is it, it, it gives them a visual representation of what that will look like for them. And it gives somebody clarity from where, you know, from point A to point B. And what it also gives, and this is what you know, if you really get marketing and sales aligned, because you wouldn't create this just with marketing. If you, if you have an organization that has both, you would create this alongside sales. Because what this allows you to do is your results flywheel can become the conversion mechanism and the foundation for the sales conversations that you take people through.
Adam King: So once you have educated people through your marketing and, and all the rest of it, and you've shown how things work, when somebody gets the point where they've raised their hat, you can take them through a process which is all, you know, it's not that hard selling kind of thing. It's, it's a diagnostic because they know where, you know, they know what your process looks like, they know what that journey looks like, and you, on that sales conversation, if you even wanna call it that, you are auditing them where they are now, where they want to get to.
Adam King: Around your flywheel so you are taking them through that process and you are taking them on that journey. So you're not setting people. It's like, Okay, right. Well, let's, let's go through this, right? Tell me how you're doing X, Y, Z, which is your stage one? Okay, what about X, Y, Z, stage two? And it goes on and and on.
Adam King: You're not diagnosing, you're just asking the questions so that they start to almost self-educate themselves on where they gaps are. And you summarize that for them at the end. And you say, well, as you know, this is our process that we go through X, Y, Z. What we can see here is that by taking you through this process, we can see an increase in whatever your ultimate transformation is, of this.
Adam King: Does that make sense? Because they're giving you their numbers as they go along as well. If, if this is a, something that you can quantify if you are selling to businesses, if you are revenue generation, for example. But ultimately, you then get to at the end because they've sort of helped you come up with this.
Adam King: All it is, then it's a okay, so would you like some help to, to get to this end result? It, it doesn't be, it's not that, you know, I'm not a salesperson. I'm, I tried it once, so I, I worked in IT recruitment and when I left university, I absolutely hated it because it was exactly what you are talking about. It was all about, you know, I don't care what you have to do to get this up or get this placement or get this, this role.
Adam King: It was horrendous. Like that environment was toxic. It's horrible and I, and I've probably been starved for life because of it.
Marcus Cauchi: That is the antithesis of selling. That's why we've established Sales: A Force For Good to break for back of that because it doesn't create buyer safety. Every customer deserves to feel safe whenever they're engaging with any vendor organization especially a salesperson. And that kind of toxic behavior is driven from the top because whilst companies claim that they are customer centric, when it comes to the end of the quarter and they've got to report back to their investors that they've hit a revenue target, they will pillage next quarter's pipeline. They will make stupid offers, like an 80% discount to get the deal done this month.
Marcus Cauchi: And that then taints the relationship and it, it's crazy.
Adam King: It takes the relationship and also if you're discounting by that much, like you then have to sell so much more of them to ultimately achieve the longer term revenue goals and all the rest of these. And it's just nuts.
Marcus Cauchi: And you've just told the customer you are trying to scalp them and that's not a good thing.
Marcus Cauchi: What's really interesting, I've interviewed a load of CXOs. So CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, CROs, chief purchasing officers, every one of them hates it when the salesperson comes to them to try to buy the business with a discount cause it tells them, you just lied to me about your price. And whilst they can forgive a lie, they will never forget it.
Marcus Cauchi: So that breaches the trust and it doesn't make sense to have to keep going out and building your business fresh every month. Because you're churning and burning customers. You've got to stay relevant and I, I'm really curious to find out how the flywheel then goes beyond the first transaction into all the repeat business and that lifetime value. Cause that's where the money is.
Growth Accelerator Ecosystem
Adam King: Yeah. So there's a few ways to, I mean, within my example, the Growth Accelerator Ecosystem. I mean it's, there's three A's. So, it is authority, assets and alliances. So each stage is essentially your foundation you build phase and then your scale phase, whichever business that you're in.
Adam King: But within the, the model that I operate, and there's a couple of ways you can do this. But it's the alliances, so strategic alliances, it's partnerships, it's all that kind of thing. And one of the ways that you, that I help clients actually really, and again, this is one of the biggest levers. When you start to realize that your client is on a longer journey to you know, to, to their success where they want to get to than what your individual thing can actually accommodate or do because your solution will cause them a problem.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Adam King: That they need to deal with. So why not find the solutions for that client? And you can develop partnerships and revenue share and, and all that kind of thing with other people. So that is one way of doing it. The other way of doing it is because you've got this flywheel and you are focused on the result, you can have different levels of the fulfillment of what you do. So you can have, you know, different levels depending on you know, if you're a consultant, for example, you can have a, it's all about access to you as the individual or your team or anything like that, and you can have things like, you know, ongoing masterminds. You know, I've got a mastermind group for example, that that is where people go to and it's all about sort of getting introduced to other people to help them with their alliance side fits.
Adam King: But there is all sorts of other ways you can do it as well. If your flywheel is something that is a, you know, for example, mine is something that you've always need to be operating once you've got your system built. It's all about, okay, well how can we then, so for example, I operate a partnership . Very much along the lines of what you, you, you sort of your ethos more the rest of it, I don't work with clients, I work with partners and I have a paid with profits model.
Adam King: So what happens is it's all about achieving results. And so the more we work together, the more results we get, the more revenue I generate, the more revenue they generate. And it just works in that way so there are just a lot of different options. You can license what you do to other people. Like there's so many different ways of doing it.
Adam King: Because once you have your, your fly grid, but that becomes an asset, that's your IP, it's packaged. You can license that to other people. There's so many different ways of doing it.
How do you police and what can you do to prevent the need for policing?
Marcus Cauchi: A question that will undoubtedly come to mind when I, I operate a similar sort of model that I'd love to hear your take on this is how do you police that and what can you do to prevent the need for policing?
Adam King: Then the way that you prevent the need for policing comes right back to the beginning. You've got, you are very, very clear on your ideal client because what I often say is you have to have criteria for the people you will accept and criteria for the people that you will reject. And that criteria isn't just based around the hard, quantifiable things of a business.
Adam King: It also comes down to values, attitude, et cetera, et cetera. But when it comes down to, So I, I have a, a feedback group as well. So when I'm working with people, we are constantly reporting success. So it's a, it's a monitoring, it's a result driven piece, and it's not just about the end product or the end result.
Adam King: It's about the KPIs that we put in place through a week, right? How many leads are generated? How many partnership opportunities would be generated? How many calls have you had, like, et cetera, et cetera. So you can always see where things are potentially breaking down. How much revenue was generated? How many clients did you onboard this week?
Adam King: And you are constantly seeing that. And then from the actual sort of tracking side of things, if you're working with other people, a lot of it is done on honor. Some of it, you know, but that comes again to knowing not just your ideal client in this case then, it becomes knowing your ideal partner. And understanding how that sort of profile looks.
Adam King: But then it's, you know, you can start tracking things, You can use links and affiliate links and all that kind of stuff and there is just a, a lot of different ways you can do it. But ultimately it comes down to an honor agreement. I believe, the way I see it is if you continue to deliver like extreme value, why would somebody sort of cut off their nose despite their face? Because that is something that is generating revenue results, et, etcetera, etcetera. For two sides, it's, that's where it's a partnership you're a partner, market provider and that is a huge, huge mindset shift when you actually start to look at it in that way. You are a growth partner, you're a success partner for your client or customer.
Marcus Cauchi: Another element that I'd like to build in as well then it's mandatory is that we have regular accountability reviews where we hold each other's feet to the fire. How can I improve? How can you improve? What can we do in order to make this relationship get better? What's happening, you know, what are your plans over the next 12, 18, 24 months? What do we need to get ahead of? What are the jobs that you're trying to get done? What progress are you making at the moment? Is there any way that I can bring somebody in to help? What are your struggling moments?
Adam King: That's a key thing as well because what, what a lot of people don't necessarily, again, it, what you've touched on there is exactly one of the biggest failures when it comes to generate clients.
Adam King: And that is follow up like your, your partnership program. You know, if you are using channel partners, what, however you want to describe it. You still need to maintain relationships and it, and that kind of, it makes me think that the simplest way I can define how you generate business.
Starting conversations and deepening relationships
Adam King: It's, you need to focus on two things. It's starting conversations and deepening relationships. So if you are, if you think about it in this way, that your marketing is there to start conversations and your sales is there to, you know, and, and also it can deepen the relationship, but your sales there is to deepen a relationship between, you know, your potential client and your organization.
Adam King: You then start to see, well, there's not, there's only a certain number of things I need to be thinking about focusing on when it comes to my marketing. If I could just, you know, generating conversations when it comes to the service based business, for sure. I often argue it's the same with anything. It's just that that conversation is probably going on inside their head.
Adam King: And you want your solution, your product, your service, to start coming into that conversation as the solution. So that they have that relationship that affinity with you. So when they're ready to go, they have that relationship, they speak to you or they buy your product or your service or whatever. It's
Marcus Cauchi: Sadly, we've come to the top of the hour.
The heart of everything is the customer
Marcus Cauchi: So we need to start wrapping up now. Been genuinely insightful conversation and it's a delight to find a marketer who understands that at the heart of everything is the customer. And if you're not speaking to the customer, then you are making probably some terrible assumptions. And I, I'm minded of my good friend Gary Mitchell, who, in 35 years has been a running complex transformation project.
Marcus Cauchi: And his starting point is always the customer journey. And what's really interesting is in 35 years of running these complex, critical programs, he's never had one fail. And it always starts with, begin with the customer.
Adam King: Yeah. The last piece that I, I guess I, I'd like to leave people weird to think about is when you think about it in that way, in the customer journey or the client journey, what you really looking for are the transitions. Because that's where opportunities are.
Marcus Cauchi: Can you identify wrong?
Adam King: Yes. Can you identify the transitions which are the, you know, in any kind of situation whether it's business, whether it's life, they're the things, you know, when you get married, when you have your first child, when you leave home, when you buy your first home, all those sorts of things. There are multiple opportunities for so many businesses in those transitions. And it's the same when it comes to business, when they're, you know, changing, you know, the obvious thing is, you know, you go and look for people on LinkedIn that change roles in the last 90 days, and that's the most obvious one. Might not be right for you at this point but it's where, what transitions? Like what are the things changing or shifting in a business and how can you look for the opportunities to serve your client better, to manage those transitions? Exactly. I mean, that's, that's when you really sort of get that, that's when you start to realize that there is just opportunity everywhere to add value, not to exploit.
Marcus Cauchi: I've interviewed the head chief innovation officer for a Helsingborg, which is a small city in Sweden. And they set themselves the mission to become Europe's city of innovation. And they set themselves a three year target to do it, they managed to get to number two in one year from being nowhere. And one of the really interesting innovations that he's put in place with his co-chief is, they've created managers of the gap.
Marcus Cauchi: Their job is to manage the disconnect and the transition points from one silo to another. So that they create discontinuity. Cause at the end of the day what drove this was Helsingborg realized that they wouldn't be able to provide these services that were required for their population within 15 years if they didn't adapt. Because taxes were going shrinking because of their aging population and so on.
Marcus Cauchi: And so they had to come up with innovative ways of improving primary education, of improving transport, of improving utility delivery, elder care. And this just really struck me because one of the things that I see lacking in virtually every business is that continuity from the customer's perspective as they go through that lifetime journey through every stage.
Marcus Cauchi: Cause marketing and sales alignment is critical, but if it doesn't continue into customer success, if it isn't paralleled with their part, no, channels. If it doesn't carry through to the operations people who day to day are running it, customer service, their professional services team, finance, you know, legal, all of those.
Marcus Cauchi: If it's not one continuous, smooth experience then the customer experiences a disconnect and that leads to conflict, dissatisfaction and mismatched expectations. Cause if you are handing it from marketing to sales and marketing have made certain promises, then sales make different promises and hand it on to customer success and onboarding.
Marcus Cauchi: And each time the customer has to start again, that's a problem. And so we'd see this all the time and it's all about making sure that alignment is putting the customer at the heart of everything.
Adam King: You've just given me a few extra applications, I think of the flywheel because that is something that binds everything that you've just said together because everybody is on the same page.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Well, I feel like I've done my job then. Tell me this, what are you struggling with? What are you wrestling with at the moment?
Adam King: What am I struggling with my, my wrestling with? I guess like the biggest thing with me is, is as it always is, it's, I've got a lot of ideas that I wanna implement and I have to constantly bring myself back to the focus.
Adam King: I mean, I fall on ADHD, diagnosed in my, you know, my, my, my thirties. And it's always the thing that I keep coming back to and I have to stop myself sometimes. I can go down a rabbit hole and it's the kind of thing that I've had to create a lot of what I now do and help clients with. Cause it, it's been my own struggles having the system and the process keeps me from going too far off-track.
Marcus Cauchi: You set time aside in your calendar to allow yourself to go down those rabbit holes?
Adam King: Sometimes. I have done in the past with this whole lockdown situation. It's, it's sort of like thrown a bit of chaos into the situation with, two, two young kids and, you know, managing, you know, not now, but previously homeschooling and all the rest of it.
Adam King: That's been a challenge. I mean, that has been the biggest challenge over the last year. Just managing life and business. My wife is also, runs a graphic design business as well. So, managing two at the same time with kids, it's just been very, very challenging. But luckily, I guess the, the knowing my, my blind spots as it were, creating the systems has allowed me to continue in the way that I want to.
Adam King: And it also gives me a bit of a, I guess a, a road sign checklist. You know, it's kind of like, here's my giveaway so do I go left, do I go right? That kind of thing. It's, it's like, no, that's not in your flywheel. Don't do it.
What are you watching, reading, listening to at the moment that you really rate and you'd recommend to others?
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. Fantastic. Okay, so what are you watching, reading, listening to at the moment that you really rate and you'd recommend to others?
Adam King: Are we talking from, you know, an escaper and thing, or are we talking from a business? I mean from, from a business perspective, I'm self confess marketing geek, and, and I read marketing books for fun. And I follow all the, you know, the, the everyone from the old direct response people from the likes of, you know, Eugene Swartz and, and all those kind of people.
Adam King: Joe Polish, Dean Jackson, Jay Abraham, like his strategy at Preeminence. Really I think encapsulates a lot of this conversation as well, because it's all about being that, you know, the trusted advisor, but really being someone that actually puts your client at the center of everything and will only recommend things that are going to help them, even if it's not you.
Adam King: So it's, you know, those sorts of things. I got into reading things around servicism. There's a great book by, Ryan Holiday called The Obstacle Is The Way and he wrote another one called, Daily Meditations I think.
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah. Have you read Ego Is the Enemy and Stillness is The Way?
Adam King: Yeah. All those, I went through the whole Marcus Aurelius Meditations and all that kind of stuff. I just find that that is a kind of worldview or a, a way of seeing the world that has, has sort of,
Marcus Cauchi: Very healthy
Adam King: It's helped me, very healthy.
Marcus Cauchi: Their views on abstinence are not so keen on.
Adam King: No. You know, there's, there's a, there's things that you can take and there's things you can sort of go. Not for me, thanks very much, . But yeah, that's, that's been a, a kind of like, yeah, a philosophy, a way of looking in the world that I've, I've taken a lot from. And I think that's been very, very beneficial.
Marcus Cauchi: And for diversion?
Adam King: Diversion? There's not been an awful lot of that lately. But, yeah, I'll, I'll sort of watch things, I mean, I love movies and all the rest of it, but I, I actually can't remember the last time I watched a movie. But that's probably from having two young kids and all I get to watch is a lot Peppa Pig and yeah, there you go, Paw Patrol and all the rest of it. But,
What one first bit of advice would you give Adam aged 23 that he would've probably ignored but would've valued or benefited from eventually?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay you've got a golden ticket and you can whiz back in time and advise the idiot, Adam aged 23, what one first bit of advice would you give him that, you know, he would've probably ignored but would've valued or benefited from eventually?
Adam King: Stop being such an arrogant bastard and thinking you can do it all yourself. That would be my number one. Because I think there was a lot of arrogance of youth, there was, you know, I, I know everything and all the rest of it.
Adam King: I wasn't very good at asking for help. I wasn't very good at asking for advice. I think getting coaches and mentors and things like that. I think that is one of the most important things you can do. And I think it's all about relationships. I'd have, I'd have spent much more time building my network and focusing on collaborating rather than trying to compete with everybody.
Adam King: But I think maybe that is the youthful exuberance. And I guess like from a tactical, practical point of view, I would've focused on, well, a 23, I wasn't running my own thing, but it would all have been about sort of building your own email list as well, because it's still the number one way of, of, I think building wealth in a business because that's an asset, not just for what you sell for you, but what you can offer for other people as well.
Marcus Cauchi: Interesting. I mean, I, I, that's the advice I would've given myself, I think as well. Don't try and do it all yourself. You know, the square root of fuck all and develop some humility and seek out help. Cause I always felt that asking for help was a personality defect.
Marcus Cauchi: Actually, it's an act of courage and I wish I'd learned that a lot sooner.
How can people get hold of you?
Marcus Cauchi: Okay, Adam, how can people get hold of you?
Adam King: So the best way or, or a couple of ways is that if you are a podcast listener, which as you are still listening, and if you are still listening, well done. The B2B Growth Think Tank is the podcast. And, it's a little bit different in that we look around how we ideas strategies for growing a business. But we also have what's called a virtual hot seat, which is where a listener questions come in, and the guests and I will actually brainstorm solutions to a particular problem or a challenge that's going on in somebody's business.
Adam King: So there's also live sessions that we do in on panels with multiple guests. So that's always a good sort of fun thing there. So check that out, or, connect with me on LinkedIn, Mr. Adam King. Or if you want to get hold of that revenue multiplied calculator that I mentioned, go to thinklikeafish.co.uk/calculator.
Marcus Cauchi: Adam King, thank you.
Adam King: Thank you very much. It's pleasure. Thanks for having Marcus. Good fun.
Marcus Cauchi: My pleasure. So this is Marcus Cauchi signing off once again from The Inquisitor Podcast. If you've enjoyed this, then please like, comment, share, and subscribe. And if you feel the urge, go to Apple Podcast. Scroll below the fold on the page and leave an honest review.
Marcus Cauchi: One star, three star, five star, whatever. Just leave an honest review. Now, if you are the owner or the CEO of a tech company in the 10 to 50 million revenue range, and your goal is to grow your business and achieve real, sustainable, profitable hyper growth with highly engaged and highly productive employees and clients who stick with you year after year, decade after decade, without selling your soul to vultures, speculators and gamblers, then let's schedule time for a brief conversation.
Marcus Cauchi: You can contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me on LinkedIn. And if you found the whole idea of buyer safety being pro customer and making Sales: A Force For Good interesting and you'd like to find out more, our mission is to remind us that we exist because of, not in spite of the customer. Sales is a service profession.
Marcus Cauchi: We're committed to raising the standards in the profession and make sales an aspirational career choice for young people and also to create the right conditions for the next generation of salespeople and sales leaders so they don't have to operate in the boiler room, Wolves of Wall Street type of environment.
Marcus Cauchi: So in the meantime, stay safe and happy selling.
Marcus Cauchi: Bye-bye.