Are you (really) ready to grow in 2020? Ask yourself these two questions

For Greater Sales & Marketing Impact, Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable…

Here’s a funny thing we’ve noticed in our professional adventures (which at 321 are all about accelerating skills and advising startups and scaleups on leveling up sales, marketing, product and people/HR to grow): founders, CEOs and leaders say they want greater growth, and they point to specific challenges in their Sales and Marketing functions that they want to improve (or, sometimes, that their investors are nudging them to make better) but, yet, when it comes to making changes, well, they’re stuck.

Even though they sometimes know the specific causes of the challenges (no Sales approach/process, no defined ICP, wrong early stage marketing hire, pick your problem here!) but may not know how to tackle them, or have even identified some potential changes they can make or ideas to try to get to a better outcome (better understanding the Buyer’s Journey, improved sales process, getting their marketing fundamentals in place before wild-assing on campaigns that yield no conversions) they just…don’t.  And as a result, they keep on keeping on without realizing their growth potential (best case scenario) or flounder, missing milestones, targets and raising some tough questions from their Board and investors.  The worst case scenario is that they fail.  (As the data shows, the key reason for failed startups is lack of product-market fit).

Seems like a scenario most Founders, CEOs and early stage leaders would want to avoid, and yet, sadly, we see this played out not infrequently.  So what gives?  And how to move past this in 2019 to make this a year where you take on real change and get to real results? We came across an interesting HBR article (If You Really Want to Get Better at Something Ask Yourself These Two Questions) recently that sheds some light into this confounding scenario and two key questions that can help you move past stagnancy and kickstart meaningful change.

Do You (Really) Want to Make a Change?

The first question is ‘Do You Really Want to Get Better’?  Seems pretty straightforward and, at the same time, absolutely fundamental.  When considered in terms of your Sales and Marketing efforts,  if the honest answer to this question is “no” (or as we have not infrequently seen, “not now”) then undertaking any initiatives is truly a WOMBAT (in 321 vernacular, that’s Waste Of Money Brains And Time).  So, in 2019, do yourself a favour and get real about your desire and level of commitment to change your Sales and Marketing functions.

Are You Ready to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable?

If the answer to the first question is “yes”  (as in you really do want to get better) then the second question really boils down to the extent that, to do that, you are comfortable being uncomfortable.  The second question is ‘Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?’

When it comes to changing your Sales and Marketing approaches, processes and practices (with a view to improving and delivering greater impact and growth), this second question really resonated with us.  We have seen (sorry) over and over again, that there are truly no silver bullets when it comes to ratcheting up Sales and Marketing.  That’s the bad news (well the realistic view is how we prefer to see it).  But the good news is that we have also seen over and over again that for those Founders/CEOs and startup leaders who really want to change and who commit to putting in the effort to try new approaches and ideas and who ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’ that they can learn, they can improve, they can implement and they can deliver better outcomes.  It’s true that not every prospect will close and not every campaign will be a smashing success but after our adventures working with startups we know that being open to new ways of doing Sales and Marketing, adopting an experiential approach and a growth mindset (win some, learn some) will improve your return on your Sales and Marketing investments.

What’s Standing in Your Way?

So here’s a third question that we pose (again for those who answer “yes” to the first query about wanting to change): ‘What’s Standing in Your Way’  In the context of your Sales and Marketing, if you want to improve your results, what is standing in your way?  Take the time to start to identify the key challenges you face so you know what you’re up against.  Our journey has put us in the privileged position of working with over a hundred startups in the Alberta ecosystem and some of the key challenges that we see in the Sales and Marketing functions are: not meeting revenue and growth targets; lack or return on marketing investment and needing to accelerate revenue traction but not knowing the key sales and marketing initiatives to focus on to increase the likelihood of faster growth.

You Got This: Make 2020 the Year Change Happens

So if you’re really ready to change in 2019 and you want to get growing, we’d love to help.   Our winter 2019 cohorts for Sales and Marketing are starting soon.  Check us out below.  Let’s grow together in 2019!


Lean Sales is an 8-session program to build and implement your sales process – from prospecting through close. Course details and registration link HERE.

Sales Kickstarter is our introductory course for founders and their team members that want to better understand sales – and how they can best support their company’s sales efforts. In a rapid-fire 4 hours, you’ll learn what sales is and where it fits in your organization, and what your company must do to drive sales growth. Course details and registration link HERE.

Growth Marketing is an intensive, 8-week program, that guides you in building and implementing effective growth marketing or lead generation for your company, so that marketing focuses on revenue. This is a hands-on program where you’ll tackle real-world marketing challenges, and build/launch a campaign to drive results. Course details and registration link HERE

Marketing Kickstarter is our introductory course for founders and team members that want to better understand marketing – and how they can best support their company’s revenue goals. In a half-day (or evening), you’ll learn what marketing is and where it fits in your organization, and what your company can do to undertake marketing that drives revenue. Course details and registration link HERE.

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