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Habits of Hyper-Growth Sales #5: Own the Outcome, Not the Input

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn here)

Hyper-growth is an outcome of convincing more and more customers of using more and more of your offering. Which implies that there is a 3rd party driving hyper-growth: the customer.

Actually, there are more parties involved here: the competition fighting your offering and the market’s ecosystem adding to your offering - or not.


This means that the amount of input you invest does not translate directly into the outcome. Making more cold calls, presentations and demos doesn’t automatically win you more customers and revenues.


I came across scores of salespeople who delivered the input they were asked to, e.g., cold calls, funnel management, opportunity qualification, but when they were asked why all this didn’t deliver the desired outcome they blamed the customer, unfair competition, high prices, sometimes even bad luck.


They owned the input, but not the outcome.


Let’s look at the following situation I came across in the early days of the public cloud:


In order to pay a supplier’s invoices, the customer had to issue a Purchase Order (PO) exactly specifying the deliverables and their individual prices. The supplier’s invoices had to exactly reflect this PO to be paid. Once the PO volume was exhausted the customer stopped paying until a new PO was issued.


This didn’t work for my offering as pricing was based on list prices and list prices went down all the time (so the invoice didn’t match the PO anymore) and the customer had to pay whatever they consumed, regardless of the deliverables and their volumes specified in the PO.

As a result, the customer (and so myself) ran into a hard scaling blocker: We were not able to grow beyond some pilots and pet projects to make it into mainstream.


We started to dive deep together into our billing mechanisms, how customers could control spending, the invoicing process and even discussed ideas where the customer made an upfront payment against which we charged (turned down by my leadership for good reasons) or introduced a reseller (ultimately turned down by both parties as we wanted to have a direct relationship).

We also looked into all the PO types the customer had implemented in their procurement system and after 6 months (!) we found one we could use as a base putting a clumsy and labor-intensive workaround on top on our side.

Finally, we had a mechanism to scale usage of our services and the business went into hyper-growth for years to come.


Owning the outcome means you don’t stop with the input expected from you, but take any steps needed to produce the outcome, even if they take you far outside your area of responsibility and expertise (in this case procurement, controlling, accounts receivable ...).

Owning the outcome instead of the input is just an attitude, so there is no reason for not doing it!

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