Growth Newsletter #329 – This week: Market size, You may think, Nothing

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Predicting the future is tough. Put systems in place to help. Researchers say relying on your gut is a tossup. A system gets 60%+. Why bother for 8-10%? Pretend it’s a lottery ticket. Might as well take the one with slightly better odds.
  • Inspiration gets people going but after the initial spark focus less on the push, more on cutting restraints and clearing the path ahead. You only have so many matches in the box. 
  • Have a big total addressable audience. To judge if it’s the right size, test and watch the start and slow-down. If the team has trouble getting started, audience is too big. If they have a good start then slow-down audience is too small.
  • Peer-to-peer referrals are best. After that comes referrals from people paying the referral, followed by referrals from people being paid by the referral. “My client is looking for,” is less powerful than “you need to talk to my vendor.”

Being Human – I know what you’re thinking

“Guess what I’m thinking.” – Ernie on Sesame Street

see something say something

I am prepping a young person for an interview and offer them a standard piece of advice. Since interviews create anxiety I advise them to think ahead to a possible anxious moment, like when the interviewer asks you a question they don’t want to answer. For instance, a gap in your work history you don’t want them to ask about. If they ask, “Mr. Chambers, there’s a gap in your resume. Talk to me about the years 2010-2020. . .” it’s an anxious moment. My advice is to come up with an uncomfortable question they might ask and prep an answer or two. Practice it.

In theory, it helps reduce anxiety and leaves your brain free to listen and respond. Keeps you “in the moment” so to speak.

Speeding up discovery

In a formal sales scenario we do something similar. We know our product isn’t an exact fit for everyone. The sooner we discover whether it’s a perfect fit or not the better for everyone. I’m not talking about hard product requirements, I’m talking about the soft qualifiers like willingness to fight for a solution internally. To help speed up discovery I teach people a language tactic we’ll call “I know what you’re thinking.”

After a few dozen sales presentations we get pretty good at recognizing patterns in these soft qualifiers. We’re not perfect predictors, but I suggest you follow the NYC transit credo, “if you see something, say something” as soon as possible. If you think you recognize a situation say something. Be polite, be willing to be corrected, and be brief.


Here’s a quick example from my daily existence. Sometimes I’m talking to people who haven’t hired consultants or advisors before. They say something that makes me think, “hmm, I wonder if they’ve ever hired someone like me?” To save everyone’s time I need to address this because I know how long it can take to decide to hire your first one. Since I see it, I say it using preemptive “I know what you’re thinking” language like this:

  • You may be thinking. . .
  • I know what you’re thinking. . .
  • It seems like. . .
  • It looks like. . .
  • It feels like. . .
  • You’re probably wondering. . .

. . .followed by my concern. Like, “You’re probably wondering if your company would ever hire someone who just does advising. . .”

I use the ellipses at the end because I use a statement but ask it as a question by leaving a big pause at the end. I let them fill in the rest.

You’re probably thinking, but what if you’re wrong? It’s a good question. If I’m right we get to deal with my concern right away. But if I’m wrong, well, we move on. They may say, “No, I’m not thinking that at all. We hire advisors all the time. As a matter of fact. . .” It’s anecdotal, but I have never had this turn into a conversation killer or argument. I use it in the course of discovery and part of discovery is figuring each other out. It’s very natural.

Next time you hear something that sets off alarm bells, call it out by telling them what they’re thinking. It speeds up discovery and saves everyone time.

Good stuff.

Random stuff


“I know that I know nothing.” – what Plato heard Socrates say


The way our brains work we take events and look backward to explain why something happened. It’s why we need to constantly remind ourselves that correlation is not causation. We are programmed to see causation.

A recent example is the advice I gave my middle child when he was looking for a job out of college. His first offer was with a startup and I said he might want to keep interviewing with big established companies. Startups are fickle.

Four years later, the startup is growing fast and nearing 200 employees due in part to his work in sales. When a friend suggests I am partly responsible I have to admit it has nothing to do with me. As a matter of fact, he’s doing well in spite of me.

Now the youngest is graduating and gets his first offer. This time it’s a big company. My advice? I am saying nothing. Life’s unpredictable. I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Like just yesterday in the paint store. It’s busy, and I notice a smattering of different languages being spoken by the patrons. The counter is manned by a nice young man with a button proclaiming, “Hablo español” so I assume the unintelligible old man next to me must be speaking Spanish. As I wait for the clerk to find my order I decide it’s not Spanish. Something Slavic? Maybe Creole if I knew what Creole sounded like? Pirate? Whatever it is, I’m not catching it and I smile to his clerk as he processes the old man’s order. Talented young men at the paint store.

“I didn’t know the paint store was so diverse,” I say to my clerk motioning to his button and nodding toward the old man. My helper is confused, looking at me, then his button, then at the old man. A smile breaks out on his face, and he leans toward me pointing a thumb toward the old man.

“Walt speaks English, he just mumbles real bad.”

I know nothing.


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