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The Playbook for Reigniting Growth – with Aaron Ross

July 29, 2021

The world’s economies aren’t going to recover anytime soon. There’s more risk – and opportunity – than ever before. How can a business pivot, survive, and thrive?

Aaron Ross has some answers. Co-author of From Impossible To Inevitable (with Jason Lemkin) and of Predictable Revenue (called the “Sales Bible of Silicon Valley”), he’s got the insight into the sales systems that helped Salesforce.com, Twilio, Zuora, and other companies create billions. 

Married with 9 children (!) the California native now lives in Edinburgh, UK. He’s Co-CEO of PredictableRevenue.com and a global keynote speaker.

In his Turing Fest 2020 talk, Aaron shares some of his best practices on how to create predictable revenue.

Aaron’s takeaways for reigniting growth: 

  1. Maintain the mindset that there is an opportunity for a fresh start

  2. Hone in on specialisation and focus, have people doing fewer things better

  3. When it comes to customers, focus on who needs you by nailing a niche

  4. Create consistency and predictability in order to have competence

Watch Aaron’s full talk…

  1. Start with a Blank Page

The past year has caused disruption for everyone, making plans and ventures unpredictable. “It’s been an interesting year to work, we’re going to be unpredictable. No one knows what’s happening and things can go up, down, left, right.

But with great disruption comes great opportunities.”  Aaron says:

“We’ve never had this opportunity to recreate how we work and when we work and where we work.” 

As you keep investing in yourself, how do you learn? How do you adapt? How do you help your business adapt to make it stronger? There is hope that we can come out of this better on the other side again, whether your business and job are the same, or whether your business and job are recreated.

Aaron’s idea of a ‘blank page’ is all about maintaining the mindset that there is an opportunity for a fresh start. There is an opportunity to redesign what you want your work or business to look like.

 “With every problem here, there is an opportunity.”

If your business is still struggling, what can help you make the changes you need to make your business better? 

2. Specialise Your Sales Team

You want to build the foundation for creating a team that can succeed first, and scale later. 

“What I like to say is that salespeople shouldn’t prospect much, they don’t like to do it. And even if they can do it well, they can’t sustain it.” 

Today, most sales managers are trying to get everyone on a sales team to prospect and have everyone signing deals. “It’s like telling a sports team, everyone should attack and everyone should defend. The right answer and model is you’ve got to have attackers, defenders, midfield, and goalie. Everyone’s got their specialty.”

Screenshot 2021-07-14 at 16.35.47.png

There are four core roles Aaron suggests to start with that create specialisation:

  • Lead response

  • Prospect/outbound

  • Sign new customers

  • Customer success

The principle is ‘focus’. “It’s people doing fewer things better.”

You can start to think about your sales team or customer-facing teams as Lego blocks. This makes it easier to add to expand in scale. 

The bottom line is when you break your team apart, and you design it this way from the ground up to be more modular, this gives better insights into what’s working and what is not. It’s easier to scale and create this farm team system or talent garden to grow people up through your ranks.

The important thing to remember is, if you don’t specialise, you’re going to struggle.

3. Nail a Niche

“This is the idea of systematising market message fit. If you have had a company that’s dependent on relationships or brand, and rely on word of mouth. This makes it harder to grow to create predictable growth.”

One of the biggest challenges that a lot of companies face is an overflow of great things they can do. Aaron mentions the word focus again – “If you’re trying to explain to a prospect everything that you do, It’s confusing. Your job is really to hone in on that key signal.”

“If you remove the clutter, what’s the signal that you can broadcast that’s going to appeal to the right kind of customer and to the needs they have?” 

Whenever people are confused, they’re going to say no. They may not understand what you do, or the value and differentiation to their other alternatives. 

You have to have a signal. It needs to be clear and specific. 

When it comes to customers, you need to focus on who needs you. He reiterates to put yourself in their shoes, and keep the question in mind – “how can I make it easier for my customers to want to buy me?” 

Aaron describes his personal experience going through this – “I got married and had to make money because we had a baby on the way. And for me, in order to make more money and support a family, I went back to the big question – what was my main niche?”

Aaron specifies that nailing a niche is one step that is required before you can create a predictable pipeline.

4. Predictable Pipeline

Predictable lead generation is key for reigniting growth. Aaron breaks down the three types of leads you need to understand:

  • Seeds

  • Nets

  • Spears

This is one of the foundational ideas from his book, Predictable Revenue. He tells us about how many people have told him how this helped them understand the differences, so we hope you’re still reading! 

“Seeds are word-of-mouth leads, relationship-based, which are hard to grow. Nets would be marketing – casting a wide net, inbound, quantity. Lastly, outbound prospecting is Spears – having a targeted approach, usually the human, this could be for customers, partners, or marketing opportunities. 

“If you don’t have consistent metrics, you’re not going to be able to really know what’s working and be able to create Predictable Revenue.” If you’re doing outbound, the number one metric you need to focus on is the number of qualified, audited opportunities.

“At some point, you develop an outbound funnel, any lead generation system has a funnel.”

This is an example outbound funnel for Zuora:

Screenshot 2021-07-29 at 15.24.44.png

“We talked about these five assets – the new mindset, the blank page, specialising in sales, adding more roles, nailing a niche, who needs you the most, creating a predictable pipeline. Make sure it’s not just a side project, whatever that content marketing outbound is like, you need someone whose name is on it and know they’re accountable for whatever it is – that is what will drive your pipeline. That’s your revenue.”

We’re delighted to welcome back Aaron Ross to the Turing Fest this year, and we’re even more excited that our customers will get the chance to see him in person and live on stage!

If you enjoyed this insightful playbook on how to reignite growth and want to learn more from him – Get your tickets to Turing Fest 2021 here.

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