In this week's newsletter: Why Sales-Led Doesn't Work and What To Do About It
View Online
Weekly Briefing No. 195
by Edwin Abl

Hey — It's Ed. Welcome to my weekly briefing, scale smarter. 

Quick Reminder:
You are receiving this email because you subscribed to my weekly newsletter or downloaded one of my content assets. It's not a link dump of "hey, here's what I'm listening to and reading." It's 7+ articles, with summaries, notes, views, and commentary, spanning topics on leadership, B2B SaaS marketing, SaaS GTM, sales, well-being, or other interesting finds from around the web. Occasionally, I send long-form articles on leadership, marketing, and personal growth.

Did your brilliant friend forward this to you?
Subscribe here.

==> Here’s what I thought was worth sharing ↓

What is an 'Anti-To-Do-List'?
The key metric is 'Time to Revenue' 
Why Sales-Led Doesn't Work and What To Do About It

Thank you for subscribing 🙏.



1. On the subject of productivity. I still continuously play around with different productivity approaches, and I’m quite tempted to go back to scratch, pen and paper. It does work.

But at the moment, I’m testing out the ‘Anti-to-do-list’ concept, it’s a tactic that is not focused on creating items in advance, but when you complete an item during the day, you write it down. 

The key insight is a psychological one: 
"Every time you do something — anything — useful during the day, write it down in your Anti-Todo List on the card.

Each time you do something, you get to write it down and you get that little rush of endorphins that the mouse gets every time he presses the button in his cage and gets a food pellet.

And then at the end of the day, … take a look at today’s card and its Anti-Todo list and marvel at all the things you actually got done that day."

What is an 'Anti-To-Do-List'?  

2. Throughout my career, I have experienced ups and downs and often struggled with well-being along the way... if that sounds like you, I'd love to help.

I set aside 2-4 hours per week to help people for no cost.

Before booking, please note that I'm not here to help those just after "free go-to-market" advice. For that, you'll need to purchase a paid coaching call.

The purpose of this call is for those who feel stuck, need advice on a specific challenge (i.e. CEO relationship), or need a supportive conversation to help in life/career.

Get in touch, love to chat.

3. I’m reading: Effortless - Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg Mckeon. 

It covers: 

☑️ Asking 'What Step Can I Remove?' (accomplish more, in fewer steps)
☑️ Having the Courage to Be Rubbish (prioritise progress over perfection)
☑️ Deciding What 'Done' Looks Like (don't keep running after you pass the finish line)



4. 10 SaaS Business Lessons from $1B+ Unicorns (like Slack, Twilio, Lyft).

5. It’s an eternal discussion. What KPI should your B2B focus on? Time To Revenue: The One KPI You Should Strive To Really Know distils high-level thinking on a few ideas.

The key one is: How long does it take from the first time somebody from a potential account visit your website until the account is closed as won?

6. From the archives: Need a refresh on your sales & marketing alignment. Look no further than HubSpot’s table-stakes guide to building SLA agreements.



7. 100 (Short) Rules for a Better Life. 

A few favourites: 

🙏Practice the law of action, not attraction
🙏“Trust the process"
🙏Have a philosophy
🙏Purpose, not passion. (One is about you, the other about something bigger than you)
🙏Break things down to see what they really are
🙏See what you can learn from every person you meet—even people you don’t like
🙏“Always say less than necessary.” — Robert Greene
🙏Try to see opportunities where others see obstacles
🙏Think progress, not perfection
🙏Lighten up. Relax. (Whatever it is, you’re probably taking it too seriously



One more thing...Thanks for reading.

Enjoy your day. And if you like this newsletter and want to support it, forward it to a friend 🤝, tweet me 👏, or if you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can subscribe here.



 🤔  Why Sales-Led Growth Doesn't Work and What To Do About It

It would help to not rely on sales-led growth to scale your business. 

Every week I'm amazed by the reasons for no / slow growth between £2m - £10m ARR; it often results from sales hires or attrition. Unbelievably really, what a BIG problem that creates.

You see this in the investor update: 

Promised 40% growth, but they've had a tough year because; 

They hired a US head of sales which turned out to be below par (they're still looking for a US head of sales). 

2 (good) salespeople left

The problem? Most companies don't know how to build the infrastructure for scale-up. Some do, but most don't. And because of that, they rely on hiring salespeople. It's risky. 

Here are six steps to get you up and running to de-risk sales-led growth: 

Step 1: Focus on creating a unique POV, know your ideal audience profiles and target your audience's sub-segment. 

The point of view of your positioning should be about motivating curiosity. 

 It should be about transferring your specific view and the significant challenges it solves. 

If you can't position your product/ service with a unique POV, you don't have a good foundation for building awareness and demand. 

Step 2: Salespeople don't create demand, so hire into marketing or product 

Once you know your positioning and audience and have a decent run-rate of ARR, it's time to scale. You go out and hire salespeople. 

Please don't do this.

Salespeople are not good at creating demand. 

I know you're excited and believe salespeople will deliver on building a market, but they won't. It would be best if you started investing in the infrastructure of your GTM. This infrastructure begins with creating content in the first instance or product marketing to improve product positioning with the message to the market. Or product to engineering to help create a better product. 

The marketing or hybrid product hire needs to focus on how to build an effective marketing strategy that creates brand awareness and the first stage of your demand funnel. 

Step 3: Create a system for your revenue funnel 

Once you have in place the marketing basics, it's time to create the actual customer journey and lifecycle for driving new business. 

Start with how you convert brand awareness into lead flow/ engagement, and plan what resources you need to convert or engage further down the funnel. I.e. do you need more content, what content is required, top, middle, bottom, what channels are you optimising? 

At this point, you should be building the architecture and testing heavily on how to make a customer journey. 

Step 4: Build out your resource structure 

Once the first three steps are completed, the most complicated parts are done. And often it's hard sometimes to see the impact on the lead flow. Because this is not demand generation, it's the foundations of the building of your house; you don't see the foundations. 

Now it's time to build out your resource structure. 

At this point, you decide on SDR resources to help conversion pathways, demand generation marketers to build the demand creation process or product marketing to help develop the PLG model or refine your message. 

Step 5: If the systems start to work, hire sales-people 

You know, feel more confident there is a process for demand creation. 

You can now look to hire salespeople or scale the sales function (you may have a few hires or still be doing founder-led selling). 

The benefit of hiring at this point is you can feel better that the top-of-funnel system will be independent of a good/poor sales hire. 

Step 6: Importantly, make sure you hire the right people 

Ok, this is a no-brainer. 

But again, most people get this wrong. You want resources quickly, you hire the wrong people, and it's a problem six months later. 

Invest upfront in getting the right hires for the sales function. 

A few ways: 
- Use modern assessment tools (not old-school psychometrics)
- When interviewing, use real-world scenarios, i.e. a favourite is to do a pretend sales forecast meeting and see how they'd operate week-to-week
- Ask candidates to send an email pitching your product/service, or a cold email 
- At the interview stage, ask them to do your company pitch on a whiteboard 
- Ask for at least two references from former managers (people don't ask for references!)
- Use your networks to gain feedback on the candidate 
- Put your own internal 'Hiring Playbook' in place, looking at competencies, attributes and behaviours (I have an example if you want to see one). 
- A quick tip: The great salespeople I have met are intelligent, good listeners, thoughtful, curious, motivated to be an expert in their domain, and often introverted. Not the typical sales profile. 

If you follow these stops, you'll de-risk the result. Still, lots of execution is needed but an alternate way of thinking. 

In 2023, it's not optional to think harder about the infrastructure for scale-up; it's mandatory because hiring salespeople won't work. But saying that, if you want to avoid investing in the infrastructure, follow step 6 and at least hire 'better' salespeople. 

I hope that helps.


PRODUCT RECOMMENDATION - Get testimonials from your customers with ease

Pitch: Collecting testimonials is hard; we get it! So we built Testimonial. In minutes, you can collect text and video testimonials from your customers with no need for a developer or website hosting.

Click Here to Learn More



This newsletter is my passion project. I hope it helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to learn at the pace needed to keep up. Many readers have asked about how we can work together. In case you’re interested, I do three things.

(1) DUE DILIGENCE FOR INVESTORS & CEOs: A bespoke framework and capability model ‘DEMAND KARMA’ that delivers DD services to investors, VC firms and CEOs. 

(2) ADVISORY: Retained advisory at funded scale-ups. A simple monthly fee. Helping CEOs build a scalable marketing machine.

(3) MENTORING: Designed for people looking to get to the next level — Director, VP and new CxO. My sweet spot is helping to mentor developing VPs / "Head of"  / aspiring leaders to step into the CxO role.

If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit. 

Click here to schedule a call.
Copyright © 2020 Edwin Abl, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Edwin Abl · 32 Lavender Sweep · London, London SW11 1HA · United Kingdom