secrets to scale

Secrets To Scale Podcast
050 - The Role Of Tech In Scaling A Business With Ken Lundin

050 – The Role Of Tech in Scaling A Business With Ken Lundin

Secrets To Scale is a marketing and entrepreneurship podcast that revolves around hearing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and uncovering their secrets to scaling their businesses. Music for every episode of this podcast was written and produced by Treycen Clausse.

Listen To This Episode:

CONNECT WITH KEN:

Tanner:

This week on the show, Ken Lundin, from Ken Lundin and Associates joins me to discuss the role of technology and scaling a business. Now it’s no secret that tech plays a huge role in scaling, but there are still a ton of businesses out there that are under-utilizing it. Definitely stick around for this episode. You don’t want to miss it.

Welcome to the show, Ken, I’m really excited to have you go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience.

Ken:

Sure. No problem. Tanner. So Ken Lundin and Ken Lundin and associates, and what we do is help, you know, B2B brands typically anywhere, just, you know, after startup entrepreneurs all the way up to, you know, we’ve got some very large clients figure out how to put in predictable, scalable sales systems so that we can predict and scale our ability to grow.

Tanner:

That’s awesome, man. So how did you get started? Can you kind of take us on a walk down memory lane?

Ken:

Yeah, I mean the walk down memory lane, I guess, kind of easy, and it’s always the long-term set aside of this is I’ll be 50 this month. So, you know, I’ve spent 25ish years kind of a sales and business ownership front, and then about, oh, about 10 years ago, 2011, some people may remember, especially if they were in business ownership at that time, you know, I ended up losing my house kind of at a surprise auction and had to answer the door and explain to my family, you know, in the first week of December, why we had to be out by new year’s. And so, you know, that put me on a journey over two to three years to emotionally kind of rebuild myself and to figure out what the heck actually had just happened. And from there just really decided, you know, from a missionary perspective that I didn’t want any other person that I could possibly help to go through that same thing. And so from there we’ve been very fortunate over the last five years, we’ve built a consulting agency that’s been able to help people from, you know, in the United States and then recently this year launched in Brazil. So we’re spreading across the globe and having a good time at it.

Being very purposeful and intentional about your roadmap so that your team understands where it’s going as well.

Tanner:

Yeah, that’s really awesome. And so, you know, while you were growing your consulting business, what were some obstacles that you guys faced while doing that?

Ken:

Well, I think from an entrepreneurial perspective the biggest obstacle that most people face is how do I put systems in so I don’t have to be the cog or the bottleneck. And when do I do that? You know, it wass my business was certainly a lot more straightforward, I would say from a standpoint of how I, as a business owner felt about it you know, two years ago, because if I was on the phone, I was getting paid to be on the phone. And then all of a sudden now I have a team doing that work and my role has switched to procedural and systematic and guides. And it feels like every single day, there’s another piece firing at me that, oh my gosh, there’s a hole in the that we have to plug. And so I think from when you start to talk about growing a business, which is what we’re going through right now in a pretty significant way. A, I think the two challenges are, A. finding where you fit in the new business and you can have the highest level of impact for the time you put into it. And B. is being very purposeful and intentional about your roadmap so that your team understands where it’s going as well.

Tanner:

And that’s a good point, right? Because you know, the team needs to be on board and the team needs to understand the direction that the business is going in. And, you know, it’s up to you as the owner to set that vision in that direction. But I feel like a lot of business owners kind of overlook that and they just go in whatever direction they want and they don’t really involve their team in that process. Right.

Ken:

Yeah. And there’s, and don’t get me wrong. There’s a danger in oversharing, you know, because I believe in oversharing, sometimes your team or the people who work for you are not equipped mentally, strategically, emotionally to deal with some of the real risks that you may be sharing with them. So it’s almost like you have to kind of hold in the risk and just show them what the opportunity in the future could look like. And I think that’s a massive disconnect in the world today. And I don’t think, leadership’s a problem. And I think, you know, we have clients that are billion dollar companies, and we have clients that are $2 million companies and some of the $2 million companies, which will be growing substantially. I would question, I would say they have better leadership than some of the large companies that we work with. And I think that’s because they do a better job of understanding where their people are and what their people need to be okay to get on the bus and stay on the journey with them.

There a lot of people who can stand and tell you why you should do something and what you should do, but they can’t really tell you how.

Tanner:

Yeah. And that’s an excellent point too. Going back to what you said about oversharing, you know, if you say, okay, well we gotta get this, we gotta hit this mark. And we got to expand into this and this or that, or we’re going to go out of business. Like that’s gonna freak some people out. Right. And that’s what separates an entrepreneur from someone that works for a company anyways, is that level of risk involved. And you definitely don’t want them to feel like man, this is hit or miss, I’m going to have to find a new job.

Ken:

Yeah. Some of those things can become self fulfilling prophecies at a certain point, right. You can fix the sales and not have an order to fulfill it. Or you can, you can have too many to fulfill it or it’s, you know, it’s kind of that thing now. And you know, I’ll be honest with anybody when they asked the question, but what my team asks of me is to set the true north and to show them the execution on how we get there. And we’re very, very deliberate on the how, it’s what we do and do with our clients too. You know, there are a trillion guys out there, especially now with kind of the turnover that happened kind of during the pandemic that say their sales consultants, right. It’s a blood red, see a guys like us and gals like us, I’m sorry. Sarah would beat me up, or people like us. Right. And so what’s interesting about it though. Is there a lot of people who can stand and tell you why you should do something and what you should do, but they can’t really tell you how. And I would say, as a leader, we’ve taken it to another level of our company, but I’d say as a leader internally, that’s one of the things that you’ve got to be very clear about, because if you’re finding yourself frustrated with the production of your team, it’s most likely cause you’re the problem because you’re telling them why it’s important and what to do. And you’re assuming that everybody can figure out how to do it or what to do now. And that’s a massive gap in your ability to help your team Excel. So.

Tanner:

Yeah. I love that. And it kind of reminds me of these gurus out there, right. That are selling these programs and these masterminds, and they’ve got all these cool things that you should be doing, but they never give you a real example or show you anything about how to execute it. It’s like, oh yeah, you need more clients. You need higher paying clients. Just go do it.

Ken:

Yeah. And I think that’s true. And that’s one of the things that we found. I changed the, you know, we really went through a pretty significant business model change in our business. And it’s not about our business. Just think about how this concept might apply to the others that are listening in their industries. Because I realized that our industry was broken. And I said, you know, what’s broken about it. Well, there’s two primary types of kind of services you can buy from companies like us. One is sales consulting. We already talked about that. They come in, they drop the pretty PowerPoint deck it’s built after like an old McKinsey model or whatever. And here’s your PowerPoint deck. You go figure out how to get it done with your team. You paid 30,000, 50,000, a hundred thousand for this deal. And it’s now sitting in a figurative corner of your desk gathering dust.

And the second piece, it goes, oh fix my sales team. Cause we do work generally with the companies that have at least a couple of salespeople, if not, you know, a hundred. And so come fix my sales teams to do this one or two day sales training. Well, there’s something called the Effingham forgetting curve. And that means seven days after an event like that, you forgotten 77% of it. So just light the cash on fire if you’re an entrepreneur. And so we realized between those two models, the how that we’re talking about is the thing we have to figure out how to do. So I would tell you it’s a big enough problem if you’re an entrepreneur that understanding the how, and now, and being able to ask questions to get feedback around that will substantially change your ability to be successful inside your business.

You have to be willing to put in the work that nobody else is willing to.

Tanner:

Yeah, absolutely. So Ken, what would you attribute your success to over the years?

Ken:

I would say probably the number one thing and this, you know, you get all of these other silly answers, right? But the number one things this – discipline, when the motivation wanes. It’s the ability to keep doing the thing I can tell you this week. I haven’t felt like doing the thing. You know, all the stuff I’m a people person Tanner, I’d rather be talking to you than doing the procedural guides for our consulting workforce. Right.

Tanner:

Absolutely

Ken:

Doing the thing. And you have to, I think I was on a panel in Atlanta about two weeks ago with some very, very successful have sold companies for 10 20, 50, a hundred million, you know? And, and one of the things that really came out in that panel, and it sounds cliche, but it came from these entrepreneurs who’ve been successful was you have to be willing to put in the work that nobody else is willing to. And you see that at all levels. Look at the Olympics, look at the NFL, look at whatever. They’re willing to do the things. There are plenty of other people who are just as physically talented, but you gotta be able to be willing to go do the darn work. And so I would say over the time, I’m just quite frankly, I’m pretty stubborn.

Tanner:

You know, I think that’s true with any successful entrepreneur, but it’s, it’s true. I mean, if you’re not willing to work harder than anyone else, why should you deserve a higher level of success than anyone else? Right. And you know, that’s with anything, if you’re the best at what you do, you’re going to be successful. You’re going to be well-recognized and you’re going to get what you want. Right.

Ken:

Yeah. And I think the other thing, so I guess the other thing too, let’s tie this together. So that doesn’t sound so cliche and we don’t lose all of our listeners just because of that one statement I made. Here’s the other thing. I literally don’t care if I’m right when it comes to how we market and sell our products and services and develop them. we have everything as a hypothesis. And so the difference between what we’ve done and many others in our space who are sole entrepreneurs, who are just single people doing the thing is we test everything like the hypo. It’s, everything’s a hypothesis. Everything’s nothing that’s coming out of my mouth, nothing we’re doing to change our business model, nothing we’re doing to change our sales and marketing is because I attuned that. It’s correct you know, it’s just a test.

If we tightened product market fit, we tighten our value prop. We tighten our positioning. We actually reduce our cost of customer acquisition.

Tanner:

Yeah. And, that’s a really good point because you kind of have to go about, you know, experimenting with your business in that way. Because if you think something is right and you haven’t proven that it’s right. I mean, you’re just going to go down a rabbit hole of wrongness and mistakes. And that’s what I always tell our marketing clients is, look, we’re launching this new campaign. We’re going to test everything no matter what, we’re just going to act like we don’t know a thing about what’s going on with your business and market. Cause that’s the only way you can really find the success that you’re looking for is by testing everything.

Ken:

Yeah. I agree with you. And I think that gets lost once you become a leader. Right? So I’ll give you a perfect example of this. I would say this year, so we’re going to double our revenue this year could potentially triple it, probably more like double plus a little. And in that environment, here’s what I can tell you about every single one of the new clients that we’ve taken on this year. Every single one of them has had incomplete product market fit figured out without real strong positioning for the outcomes they deliver for the clients they serve. And that gets in the way for entrepreneurs because you’re like, oh, we’ve sold a few million bucks. We must know what we’re doing. No, no, no, no. You don’t know what you’re doing. Cause if we tightened product market fit, we tighten our value prop. We tighten our positioning. We actually reduce our cost of customer acquisition. We accelerate our sales pipeline. We get more velocity, but I will tell you that. I mean, these are successful companies with anywhere from, you know, 10 to 150 employees, they’ve all still needed that.

Tanner:

Yeah. And it’s just, you know, you can’t keep doing things the same way just because you’ve always done it that way. There’s always room for improvement in everything in business.

Ken:

Yeah. If you haven’t and truthful, if you’re an entrepreneur has not pivoted your messaging to meet a slightly modified need over the last 18 months, you’re missing the boat and spending too much time trying to assume you’re right.

You start managing them by spreadsheet or by dashboard. And you stop having interactions with them.

Tanner:

Yeah. And you know, just going back to the whole testing thing, you don’t know what’s going to resonate with an audience unless you test it. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. And if you test it, you’re going to go, wow. I can’t even believe that performed way better than this. But that’s why it testing so important.

So, moving into our topic, you’re a guy that knows a lot about scaling obviously specifically technology. How important is that when it comes to scaling a business?

Ken:

Yeah, I think it’s a must have, I would put a cautionary tale in front of it because everybody’s going to say it’s a must have. But here’s where I think my spins slightly different. It’s a must have, but you can’t believe the technology will replace people and you can’t believe it will replace your connection with the people who work for you. You know, one of the things that’s happened is the advent, like the MarTech stack, the marketing technology stack probably has 8,000 different software companies around it now, right? And various pieces. Sales technology stack is really just exploding right now from 500 to, it’s probably got a couple thousand potential softwares for it. And the number one thing we’ve seen happen in the last two and a half or three years, particularly if you’re a company and say you have a leader, you have a manager underneath you, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur is trying to manage five or six salespeople or more. You start managing them by spreadsheet or by dashboard. And you stop having interactions with them.

Like if your technology doesn’t make the, the key guide to this, your technology must make you more efficient and it must make you not even more efficient, but I’m talking about efficient from a quality perspective, not just the number of tasks you can get done. As an example, there’s like sales engagement software out there. There’s like sales, authors, outreach. You can use the aspects of HubSpot. We can create these multitenant omni-channel approaches. Well, the idea of that is not to automate everything. just you can send 72,000 emails in a month, but it’s really to send 200 more personalized, more effective, more impactful. And the problem is most people think, Hey, if I get technology, can I do 72,000 things instead of, can I do 200 things really, really darn well.

You should have about a 90% certainty at the end of like a quarter, what you’re going to sell in the next quarter.

Tanner:

Yeah. You know, it is about efficiency and I’d even add on a layer of protection, right? I mean, to not forget things, make sure things get done. You don’t forget about them. But I like what you said about not blasting an email with 72,000 people, because when has that ever worked? So, Ken, what are some examples of how you or your clients have used technology to scale their business?

Ken:

We use technology in probably three or four ways that it comes to when our clients come to us. So one is from a overall running management of the business, like in order to make good cash flow decisions, hiring decisions, budgetary decisions, we have to understand more significantly what the sales pipeline looks like. So we’re very, very particular about what’s the sales process, as it’s related to how we view the sales pipeline. You know, we ultimately think that you should have 90% depending on your, I guess your total sales cycle time. In most cases you should have about a 90% certainty at the end of like a quarter, what you’re going to sell in the next quarter. And we often tell people to use two terms, commit and best case. Commit being, I know I’m going to get to this number as a salesperson, best case being, hey, I have a couple of other things drop. These deals will come too. And so one, we have to be able to do that. And that’s about the sales process and pipeline. And that, the only way to truly do that in a repeatable scalable way is to use technology.

The other thing that we do is we use it on a couple of other fronts. We use it for the outbound sales lead gen prospecting, whether you’re a sales development rep setting appointments or a business development rep that’s full cycle. So we’re going to use that. And we’re going to do, like we talked about, we’re going to use technology to do a better job of putting workflows together. So we have consistent workflows that are meant to generate more leads without spamming the heck out of them. And then the last place that we’ll use it cause we use the full revenue run cycle, is let’s say you have a software company, we’ll use it on the backend with account managers, customer service people to be more intentional about what their interactions are, because key to everybody who’s listening, it might have a software company. Your real ARR growth comes from your account management folks, not your business development folks. You should be looking to two to three X that on the backend. So we’ll use technology to drive meaningful meetings in that manner.

Tanner:

So we touched on this a little bit earlier, but do you think it’s possible to scale a business in today’s society without using technology?

Ken:

I guess it depends, you know, scales the word, right? So we can’t talk past the idea of what scale means. You know, if I am a, you know, to be a little facetious, if scaling to me means I want a lifestyle business that cuts lawns, I can probably use, you know, I can probably use QuickBooks online, and limit everything else to an outlook calendar. Right. So, it’s still technology. Right. But you know, if my earnings want to be X, well, yeah, you can do with that. On the other hand, the more complex your processes systems are and the more people that you have involved, you certainly end up getting these just lugs of local knowledge where somebody storing how to do it in their head. And that’s certainly not a place that’s scalable.

Smaller entrepreneurs need to stay away from stuff that’s too complex with too many issues that cost too much.

Tanner:

Yeah, absolutely. So what kind of technology should businesses be implementing in order to scale? You know, whether it’s a CRM or a prospecting outreach tool. I’m sure it definitely depends on the business and industry and stuff like that, but in general.

Ken:

Yeah, in general, I would say smaller entrepreneurs need to stay away from stuff that’s too complex with too many issues that cost too much. You know, and we want to add it as we need it instead of adding it just cause. So as an example, you know, we’ve updated our tech stack this year, but it’s because now we have an international consultant and we have consultants throughout the United States, but I was able to keep very close to close to my vest up until we’ve added these new consultants. So I would say, you know, ultimately yeah, from a sales side perspective, the CRM should be and should always be looked at as the single source of truth. We’re a HubSpot partner, quite frankly, we use that because it’s, we found a way to eliminate some other softwares by using it, which allows it to be a little bit less expensive now.

Now on the other hand, if you’ve got a hundred thousand contacts in HubSpot, it can get a little pricey. So we’ve got kind of that issue from a standpoint. We can use HubSpot now save our clients money. I would say the ones that are most overlooked, which might be the most fruitful part of this conversation from a sales perspective are you should be doing call recording of all your sales reps calls. So your SDRs BDRs, your demos, your discoveries, you should have some sort of thing in place. So, you know, HubSpot has stuff in place. There’s something called cloud talk. There’s another one out there. If you use the G suite called perfect recall, which is pretty cool. And then it also some of these things like otter.ai allow you to actually have a zoom meeting going on, all the notes coming through, and you and your team actually adding notes, you know, it’s taken all the transcription and then all you’re having to do is like highlight an area, oh, we gotta come back to this. So you can actually really participate in a conversation.

Cause every one of us has been in that meeting where we can’t write enough and our pen runs out of ink and we don’t know what Tanner said. So yeah, I think those are the, I think from a sales perspective, it’s, you know, those types of tools that help us be better and you’ll see the last set of stuff I said with Otter AI, perfect recall, et cetera. That was about removing the ability to be distracted in a meeting. Right. And then we want stuff that’s going to help us schedule and stay on track and automate. So you know, I think those are the things that are missing is people go, oh, my sales reps, aren’t performing. And you go, when was the last time you were on a sales call with them and they go three months ago and you go, when’s the last time you listened to a sales call. They go, what do you mean? You know, like, so.,

Tanner:

Yeah, I mean, you definitely need something in place to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to. Not just so you’re not wasting money on them, but you can coach them and build them up and improve their skills.

Ken:

And that’s the number one thing. Sales is an expense. Think about it, salespeople in particular are expensive. First of all, they cost, they’re not the lowest salary that you’re going to hire. Then they have a variable comp component. Then you have all the FICA and all the other stuff in the United States that we put on top of that. Right. And then the most expensive part of the whole thing for the last three or four years, less than 25% of them have actually made quota. So is that because we’re setting quotas too high, but the point is they haven’t met, only 25% have met expectations. So you’ve got to do these other things. Don’t, I’m going to tell you right now, the problem that entrepreneurs have is they believe sales is a black box and then they don’t put in a good process for hiring. They hire people who look and feel like them. And then all of a sudden they get these crappy results and you go, what happened? You threw the dice on a crap table. My friend.

Tanner:

Yeah. I mean, I would argue that most entrepreneurs think they can just hire salespeople and it’s a done for you type of thing, but it’s way, way, way more involved than that.

Ken:

Yup.

The secret of scale really is hypothesize and test, look for efficiencies.

Tanner:

So Ken, what would you say your secrets to scale are?

Ken:

Yeah, it’s a process. We have a program called the revenue acceleration program. And so from the app perspective I can tell you exactly what it is, right? And it all starts with the idea of target alignment. And so that’s the broad kind of scope of what we speak to. And that comes down to target alignment as a process it’s iterative and testing. And so it goes positioning, from positioning we build and edit kind of what our assets are that we want to use to support our position with our potential prospects. We want to write our outbound sales campaigns and we want to test them. Then we want to iterate on them, right? And then we’ll book some meetings and then as our close rate going up and then we’ll book and then we’ll iterate on it without going too crazy on this whole kind of detailed process.

The point is, you heard me say iterate twice in six steps. So the process, if you really want to scale the cheapest most effective way that you can do it, whether you want to go get more capital or whether you want to do it from a bootstrap profession, per perspective is test the messaging on one persona, get that right, ride that onto the end of the earth. And then as that one’s results start to fade, which it will, then come back and build your second persona. If you’re in an enterprise sale where you, you know, say you’re selling to companies that are a hundred million, 200, 300 million in revenue, okay, maybe you want to build three or four personas because the stats say to attack them all at the same time. The secret of scale really is hypothesize and test, look for efficiencies. And ultimately don’t get too cocky about where your position is in the world because things can change pretty quick.

Tanner:

Yeah. That’s honestly the best answer I’ve ever received to that question. So I thank you for that. So, Ken, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything that I have not asked you that you think might benefit the audience?

Ken:

Yeah. I think the one thing is this, look we’re coming out and you know, I’m not sure when this podcast will be published, but it will certainly be after the original part of the pandemic. Since we’re recording it. After that, I would understand this, that if you haven’t pivoted your messaging and your positioning, and if you’re not watching what your total customer acquisition costs are, which they’ve undoubtedly gone up, if you haven’t pivoted your messaging, start to think about the following thing, after 9/11, there were certain pieces about what consumers expected and the way the world worked that changed. There are many of those pieces that went back to the way they were before 9/11.

There were some of those pieces that stayed with us and have been with us in perpetuity. Think about like the TSA at airports, right? So you, as a business, as you’re going to your clients, one of the things you can think about from a positioning perspective and different conversations from discovery is post pandemic, how are your customer’s expectations changing and what do you need to do to align better to those? Because then you’ll find the number one opportunity you can pursue over the next 18 months.

Tanner:

That, solid, man. So, Ken, what’s a great way for anyone listening to get in contact with you?

Ken:

Yeah. Go to our website, kenlundin.com, I guess it’ll be in the show notes, which is L U N D I N.com. And then the number one way seriously is just, you can hook up with me or anyone on my team on LinkedIn, but look for Ken Lundin on LinkedIn and send me a quick message. Say, you want to connect and that you heard me here with Tanner. When you do that, if appropriate, you know, we give out a 30 minute free strategy session and here’s the promise I make. We won’t sell you anything. We’ll just talk to you about your business because we don’t know you. And ultimately we just want to provide some objective help.

Tanner:

Awesome, man, we’ll make sure to link that up in the show notes and thank you again, Ken.

Ken:

Awesome.

sTAY cONNECTED
get notified when new episodes are published

Free Download

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING A WEB DESIGN AGENCY

Free Download

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING A WEB DESIGN AGENCY

Learn everything you need to know to prevent making a costly mistake. Fill out the form below and we’ll email you the 19 page PDF!