How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue

Authors: Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

Taking Ownership to the Next Level

Nothing builds loyalty faster in employees than showing them you trust them and empowering them to learn and produce. Ross and Lemkin say “You need to shake things up with yourself and your people: both (a) where people physically sit and (b) what they do for their job…When an employee excels at a job, you want to keep them there…By keeping them doing what they do best (today), they’ll excel in that job (today)…But if they get stuck there, at some point it’s going to stifle them and you’ll miss out on who they would become and how they could contribute in even bigger or broader ways.”

Let’s unpack that! Almost 100% of the prospective employees I have interviewed over the last 5 years have said their number one reason for exploring new employment opportunities was for opportunities of growth. At times they couldn’t specify what growth opportunities they were looking for, but they knew they wanted to be able to grow with a company.

The best thing you can do in that case is set that person (all of them) up for exponential success.Challenge them in new ways that stretches them beyond their current position. In some cases you can stretch them towards their interest, in other cases you can stretch them towards their strengths.

Ross and Lemkin describe four (4) types of employees (+1)

  1. (Mini) CEO: natural internal entrepreneur that isn’t afraid to take charge and push a program forward. They are highly motivated and also highly agitated. Give these employees bigger challenges even when they resist. If they do resist, educate them on why the assignment is important.
  2. Careerist: People that are content with climbing the ladder. Capable. Problem Solving. Trustworthy. Dependable. Come up with new goals and opportunities for them to own – otherwise, they may become clockers (spoiler).
  3. Clockers: Someone who Is there only for the paycheck, clocking in and out and doing little else. To get you money’s worth, clearly define job expectations and embrace hard conversations about what is expected in meeting them.
  4. Complainers: Great at identifying problems, but either don’t know hot to fix them, make excuses, or are just plain stuck. You have to dig for the truth with them.
  5. Toxic: They are abusive to work with or for. There is nothing you can do to change them. You can either (a) suck it up, or (b) quit.

The authors recommend focusing on the CEOs and Careerists. My experience is that those people will take pride in what they are doing and work hard to move the company forward. Those around them will either remove themselves or you can put measures in place to performance manage them out (when necessary).


How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue

Authors: Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

Success Isn’t a Straight Line

This is probably the first thing that any pursuing entrepreneurship needs to read and know. This chapter (19) opens with the statement “Overnight success stories make for great news, but how people achieve – and perceive – success can be complicated in reality. Have a plan, but hold it lightly.”

I could technically stop the reflection right there because that is a whole message! I hate to be like the rest of the world and blame everything on the internet, but perceived overnight success is so relevant. It’s empowering, but it can also be misleading to believe someone gained their success overnight.

If you go back far enough in an overnight success Youtubers videos, you can see that their success wasn’t literally overnight. In some cases these online personalities have YEARS of content before that first viral video. We truly have no real idea what it took for them to get there. Some level of anxiety and depression was probably a part of the equation.

We don’t talk about metal health enough. I am so glad that they included a section about Depression and Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs just think differently and all the time. It takes a lot for me to turn my brain off. Sometimes I’m thinking about marketing, brand development, product development, customer services, or the biggest one success.

Reviews can be one sided – leaning towards the negative side. This can be detrimental to a business owner’s mental state. One way to reduce overthinking is a great quote from Ross and Lemkin:

“Don’t obsess about getting to success so fast that you ignore your inherent interests.”


How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue

Authors: Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

To recap, in week three I reflected on “Nailing the Niche“. Nailing the Niche is all about finding what works best for your company. You will not succeed in hyper growth if you do not have a specific focus.

Week four I reflected on Nets-Marketing. Once you find you niche, strategize your marketing plan (inclusive of a Revenue Team).

In Part III of From Impossible to Inevitable, Ross and Lemkin covers (6) break out topics:

  • Learn from Our Mistakes
  • Specialization: Your #1 Sales Multiplier
  • Sales Leaders
  • Hiring Best Practices for Sales
  • Scaling the Sales Team
  • For Startups Only

I have decided to hone in on Hiring Best Practices for Sales because boy oh boy, hiring the wrong people can kill your business faster than a terrible product or service.

Let’s start with talent acquisition. In order to know what you are looking for, you have to know the job. Ross and Lemkin say in the opener of the chapter that Throughout All Phases “The CEO and all cofounders need to be selling. Even if one of you is “the main salesperson,” everyone needs to participate in sales cycles and talking with customers.”

Mastered predictable outcome? Now it is time to outsource. Anyone can have a “great resume” and spew sales numbers, but can the do it for every company? Start with hiring a Sales Development Rep (SDR) that supports you (the CEO). Coach them carefully for at least 3 months while ramping up and figuring out their system. This is great advice. Dropping someone in the deep end to see if they sink or swim doesn’t always work because everyone’s learning curve is different.

Simple Hiring Tricks (page 149)

So how did you find that perfect fit or first SDR? Recruitment. I love how Ross and Lemkin correlate recruitment to being another form of sales and marketing. To attract the best you have to market the best. How are you describing your company or work environment? Is it communicated in a way that makes the best and brightest talent want to knock down the doors and join the team or is it a place where employees will come just to earn a pay check?

Hiring and building a team is also about building people (professionally). Don’t just hire the established professional, “hire people who show past success as well as people with untapped potential”. Here are a few things that the authors want us to consider:

  • Coachability (#1!)
  • Prior success
  • Work ethic
  • Curiosity
  • Intellegence

Don’t be afraid of doing it all yourself.

Final Advice from Paul Fifield.


How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue

Authors: Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

In my week three reflection I talked about Part I of my chosen book. This week I am reflecting on Part II: Creating Predictable Pipeline.

Creating predictable pipeline is the ultimate goal because if you can control where and how you are generating revenue, you control you financial growth/success. Here is how Ross and Lemkin say to do it:

  1. Seeds – Customer Success;
  2. Nets – Marketing;
  3. Spears – Outbound Prospecting;
  4. What Executives Miss.

“The Painful Truth: Overnight success is a fairy tale. You’re not going to be “Discovered” with a viral video, post or product that makes all your lead generation problems magically disappear.”

Of these four sections, #2 stood out the most to me because ever business needs marketing, but not every business knows how to do it.

Chapter Six – Nets-Marketing

If a company is struggling with marketing, Ross and Lemkin informs readers that inbound marketing works for every. “The idea is creating marketing that customers love or learn from, inspiring them to want more from you, eventually buying your stuff.”

To put it more plainly for those that are still unsure about what inbound marketing is, here is how Wikipedia defines inbound marketing: Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.

With that being said, be careful. I have seen some terrible inbound marketing. Doing it just to say you did it is almost as bad as not doing it at all. In my profession (membership organization) we have chapters. Each chapter has their own social media platforms because they are interacting with their service areas (a specific city, county or state). Not all chapters are equipped with members that are social media gurus. The other issue is, not all chapters have the resources (revenue) to hire someone to manage their online presence (social media accounts).

Those challenges are the same challenges that small or start up businesses may face. For a business, it’s worth the investment.

Marketing success requires a team. There is a really great graph on page 68 of the book that depicts what your Revenue Team (for marketing) should look like.

This team is headed by a “Revenue Lead”.
Under that lead is a VP of Marketing and a VP of Sales.
Under each VP is a manager – Marketing and Sales.
After this the structure begins to show more clear separation.

On the marketing side there is a Senior Designer.
On the sales side there are Ads (Account Executives).

Each side has an outbound team:
Marketing – Demand Gen Marketers
Sales – Outbound SDRs (Sale Development Rep)

Last, each side has an inbound team:
Marketing – Content & Social Media Marketing
Sales – Inbound SDRs

Without marketing, a business relies only on word of mouth. That is not a sustainable model and your business will never cross the gap.

(B) Innovation on a napkin

I write on napkins for everything. The first time I wrote on a napkin, I was telling an ex boyfriend why he was insane for breaking up with me. Funny, but I still have that “letter”.

Most recently, I went back to my roots. I wrote my plan for this project on a napkin. I wanted to stay true to the idea. Plus I was at my kitchen table when it came to me and that was the closest thing to paper that I could find.

For this project, I wanted to innovate a way to save money on furniture by creating it. Creating it doesn’t always mean building it from pieces of wood. Sometimes it’s a matter of going to a consignment shop (Durham Rescue Mission is my go to place) and finding a piece of furniture that just needs a little love.

As a young professional, I couldn’t afford to buy brand new furniture and I didn’t have the credit to “pay for it later”. So, I had to get creative. This blog features a few of those projects that I have completed!

Here is my animation for the project.

(E) Make It Better

I am often reminded how much I love video production when I get an opportunity to produce videos or even when I get to shoot and edit the footage.

I have watched countless product review videos and I have to say, some people make it look so easy. It is not! I recorded (blurry), recorded (coughed), recorded (background noise) and recorded again. Whew! Through it all, I had fun doing it.

My review is lengthy, but I didn’t want to cut out the genuine response that I had to the product.

I chose the Google Chromecast for my product review. Try to power through (more) of my bad jokes and personality flare.

This is me, making it better.