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Successful Scale is Situational

By Hank Barnes | January 05, 2021 | 0 Comments


I get it, scale matters (although I do feel the quest for scale is often used as an excuse against innovation).   But, when I think about scaling sales and marketing, it almost always seems to be inwardly focused.   How can we make everyone do the same thing?  How can we make B and C players more successful?  How can we minimize the need for critical thinking?   How can we increase engagement?  etc. etc. etc.

But an inwardly focused scale model is highly likely to be suboptimal.


Because your customers don’t care.

While elements of each customer’s situation may be similar, there will almost always be divergence.   Our research shows, time and time again, that buying teams are inconsistently formed—the composition rarely looks the same.   Their familiarity with the technology may be very different (we know they approach new purchases differently than when they are replacing technology they are familiar with).  Their business situation may be different.  Their attitudes about technology may be different.

Photo by Caico Gontijo on Unsplash

Approaching different customers with the same script, the same story, the same play is a wishful strategy.

But we still need to scale—so what can we do.  I think there are a few things.

  1. Build a robust ideal customer profile that goes beyond firmographics to focus on situational elements.   Design your “scale model” around optimizing these engagements.  Go beyond “small”, “medium”, “large” (our research consistently shows that those are not the most compelling drivers of different behavior).
  2. Understand your market context.    If you are selling a technology, or a “problem solver”, that has been around for a while—if customers have bought stuff in the past to address that problem, then design you scale model with replacement in mind—the issues and questions will be different.    If you are doing something that is largely new, optimize for that.
  3. Identify flex points –  Not every customer will fit your ICP perfectly nor will they be in the exact market context (even with a replacement model, they are likely replacing different things), for these situations, identify the most common branches, and figure out how to scale that.

In summary, think of scaling within the situational context of your products and customers, put the bulk of your efforts toward the most common situation.  Then design branches for deviations, with the level of focus and resources aligned to the opportunity (from most common to least).

A river of scale vs. linear scale—the real reality of most technology opportunities.



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