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Podcast Transcript 028 :: Double Your Revenue in 90 Days with Strategy Sprints CEO, Simon Severino

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[00:00:00] Simon: And it's funny, everybody thinks it's a bold statement to double revenue in 90 days. know, that's the easy part. The hard part is to keep the revenue, there are three things that if you increase those three, three by 25%, you have now increased your revenue by 99%, the price that you can charge for your offer, the number of clients that you onboard per week, and the frequency of your deals.


[00:00:27] Into

[00:00:27] Michel: Hi everyone and welcome to Growth Leap. I'm your host, Michel Gagnon. We talked to pretty awesome business builders who are designing disruptive and meaningful companies.


[00:00:45] Michel: Hi everyone. Today we're exploring Agile business strategy with Simon Severino, CEO of Strategy Sprints.

[00:00:51] He's a seasoned strategist, advisor, and TEDx speaker, and he specializes in helping B2B teams double their revenue in 90 days. I. He has helped more than 1600 clients across every B2B verticals raise their game in revenues. Simon is not your typical consultant. He will get you to laser focus on what truly matters in your business and life.

[00:01:15] In this episode, we'll cover as much as we can, uh, such as Simon's insights on simplifying, developing the right habits, and aligning passion with market needs. Enjoy.

[00:01:29] Simon. thank you so much for joining me today. let's start with the easy stuff. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up into sales coaching and advising?

[00:01:39] Simon Severino: Yes. Thank you, Michel for having me. And hello everybody. So 21 years ago I was a young man in my twenties. And I had the chance to work for a big, big strategy advisory. And you can imagine, uh, on Monday I was flying to Paris to merge Airbus with ERS. On next week, I would fly to New York to do market entry strategy for a German company. Next week I would fly back to Muni, and there I would advise BMW on how they can get one step ahead of their competition. intense big questions, go to market focus and I loved it. I did that every day until today. Now I'm 43. I'm still doing the same thing every day. The only thing that changes, I don't fly anymore. We do this via Zoom now 'cause it's the modern age. And also I'm much more global because everybody is one click away from each other. And also. My working language is just now English since six years. Just one language, which made my work also easier, and I'm doing it on my own.

[00:02:56] My company is called Strategies Prints. And we are a tiny team that has hubs in, in many, many countries and is growing and has a, a vibrant community that I enjoy. This is what's changed. I'm still a go-to-market coach. I'm still doing, helping people increase sales and have more, more impact with marketing. it become, it became more digital, more modern.

[00:03:22] How Simon doubles his clients' revenue in 90 days

[00:03:22] Michel: I mentioned in the introduction, you help teams, uh, double the revenues in, in 90 days, which is quite a bold statement. And I think, um, a lot of of people who are listening would like to, um. get that, that outcome. Can you give us like a, a high level approach of, how you, get there, what are the, the key elements that you, look into when, you know, when you start with a new client?

[00:03:46] What, what's your, you know, your, your general approach.

[00:03:49] Simon: And it's funny, everybody thinks it's a bold statement to double revenue in 90 days. know, that's the easy part. The hard part is to keep the revenue, but let's start with doubling revenue in 90 days. So why? Why can. Most people do it with the right order of things and what is the right order of things. I learned this from my mentors. I didn't invent it. I just simplified things. And there are three things that if you increase those three, three by 25%, you have now increased your revenue by 99%, which is effectively doubling revenue. Those three things are. The price that you can charge for your offer. Increase that by 25%. The number of clients that you onboard per week, increase that by 25% and the frequency of your deals. Frequency can be either a shorter sales time or a longer retention, which is expansion selling. And that you increase by 25%. You do these three things, which are not hard to do and and we have templates for all of that.

[00:05:09] So for us it's easy. For most people, it's doable. If you focus on that, and of course with the Sprint coach, it's easily doable 'cause we've done it so many times. But you can do this, you increase the price without losing win rates, and we can go deeper into that if it's interesting to your people or you increase the number of clients that you can onboard per week, or you increase the frequency of the deals.

[00:05:39] And for each, we have five very specific templates and activities and and even swipe copies to do that.

[00:05:48] The top mistakes Simon finds in underperforming businesses

[00:05:48] Michel: With all the experience that you have, what are the main issues that you see when you come in and onboard a new client, what are the big mistakes or bottlenecks that you, um, you, you encounter?

[00:06:02] Simon: The first one is pipeline management. Most teams don't have a CRM system, so they don't have one place where they see all the sales opportunities and they don't have simple stages where they can move people forward and, and, and they lack a good system of following up. So if you, if you just have that, you are actually much more resilient. 'cause now you'll see in one place, okay, these are the conversations that we have started over the last weeks. Those are the highest engaged people, and so if we call them, we have the highest probability of success, that would be already pretty great. And many teams don't have that. The next thing is when they come together to discuss sales, they discuss the wrong things in the wrong order. So the next thing would be to have a good sales meeting, even if you're just two people on a team. I started having a sales meeting when I was a solopreneur.

[00:06:58] It started terrible. But it got, it got some shape week by week. And then I installed the, so-called dashboard, which is one now one of the core things that we installed with all our coaches, and coachees.

[00:07:14] The three key numbers Simon puts in his dashboard

[00:07:14] Simon: And both use a dashboard and the dashboard is a simple spreadsheet with three numbers. This week's marketing number, sales number, and operations number. So the marketing number is telling us, do people take what we offer? The sales number tells us are people paying to work with us? And the ops number tells us, are they happy with our work. Those three numbers are measured every week. So in this meeting with myself, it's around week four or five, I start putting up this dashboard and I have this conversation with myself.

[00:08:00] What are the most important things? And so I picked as a marketing number, the number of subscribers to our newsletter. I picked as a sales number, the dollar amount of deals closed in that week, and I picked as an ops number the so-called NPS, or How happy are our clients right now. And if they are a nine or 10, I would then call them and say, Hey, you said the probability that you would refer us is a nine. Who should I talk to? So I would use this qualitative client survey also to create referrals from current work.

[00:08:45] Michel: I'm assuming that these numbers or these metrics will change, you know, depending on, um, your specific phase of development or, uh, a specific client, correct?

[00:08:54] Simon: You can change the metrics. The experience is if you pick the right metrics, you will not change them. I didn't change my metrics over since years. We have some clients, they change metrics and that is when you pick the wrong ones. So for example, some people have fancy metrics. What are fancy metrics? Let's say you, you run a YouTube channel and you are tracking watch time.

[00:09:19] Watch time is just fancy. Number of subscribers is important. Watch time, not so important. So when you,

[00:09:27] when you track the wrong numbers. Or for example, a website. There are teams right now in the sprint, they are tracking as a marketing number.

[00:09:37] They're tracking, duration. So how long do people stay on my site? Because they, that's what everybody measures. It's a stupid number because you are not Wikipedia, your site is not better if they stay longer, why should they be half an hour on your site? They're looking for something. They either talk to you or they don't talk to you.

[00:10:02] They download something or they download something and then they move on. So actually, if it's a great site, they, they don't stay very long because they get what they need to get and they move on. But people do what other people do. That's the mimetic

[00:10:18] and and this was described very well, uh, by a philosopher, uh, Rene Girard, who said, we are memetic creatures. And so what I help people do is to stop doing what everybody else does. To think very simply, very directly in first principles, and then to come up with the few things that actually matter for you. And that changes a lot.

[00:10:45] Michel: With that dashboard you are basically covering, uh, some sort of a leading indicator on your marketing side. You got your sales, obviously revenues, and then some sort of, um, a retention slash referral, uh, metric into it. So you kind of cover the whole flywheel in, in,

[00:11:03] three

[00:11:03] Simon: Exactly, and everybody can do it.

[00:11:05] Simon's strategy to simplify and have a better life

[00:11:05] Michel: One of the things I like is how you try to bring simplicity and, and not just to make more money, but also to have a better life. Right. And, um, one of the things that you've mentioned is how, um how can entrepreneurs or leaders get back their life in a way and, and make sure that you bring everything together. How do you, um, how do you actually achieve that?

[00:11:29] Simon: I became a father eight years ago. My son Federico was born. Meanwhile, I have three kids. So, but he changed my life because now being in planes wasn't success anymore for me. It was actually, um, a distraction. Uh, success was waking up, playing with him, enjoying him, then doing some workout, then working and. I had to change the way my business was set up. And thankfully there was also some pandemic in between and it was easier for everybody to go digital. So we went fully digital and now I am the master of my schedule. And what I realized during this transition is that many people were like, how can you do that?

[00:12:20] Having time to read books to run every day, to play with your kids? How do you do that? So I started sharing also that more personal part in the coachings, not just, you know, the sales optimization parts, but also how I structure my calendar, my investments. And I realized that there are stages in, in everyone's entrepreneurial journey now I call them the turtle stage. This is where, let's say it's level one of your entrepreneurial, uh. Journey, your savings rate is below 5%, so your net take home is not enough that you put, 36%, which is what I recommend, 36% every month into investments, into hard assets that work while you sleep. So you have a low savings rate in total stage. You have no time. I don't have time. I'm underwater. You feel under stress and pressure. Every project starts from scratch. So a new client, you reinvent the wheel and your pipeline is weak. You cannot say yes and no to people. You, you feel like you have to take that client 'cause you need the money. That's a weak pipeline. So from there, I've created now a program that that brings them to stage two. Level two is cheetah fast as a cheetah. So the savings rate goes up to between 10% and 30%. They shift from operator to owner. We have calendar blockers. They learn to delegate. They have systems in place. I, I teach them how to strengthen the pipeline, and now they, they have revenues coming in and they start also investing those revenues. Being fast as a cheetah is fun for you is not fun for the others. That's me flying around and merging and coaching, et cetera. But then my wife saying, yeah, but you are never here. You are a weekend dad. Do you want to be a weekend dad? So this is fun

[00:14:35] for us, but it's not fun for the others. Your significant others. They don't like that. I want you here. I want time with you. So from Cheetah, uh, then the next stage from fast as a cheetah to happy as a dog, this is where. We put things on repeat, sales on repeat systems. We call it a cookbook. We, we start writing down your marketing processes, sales processes, ops processes, so they, they become repeatable. And now your savings rate goes up to 36%, where it should be per month. And you have plenty of free time because your business is well organized, so you can enjoy it.

[00:15:23] You can go in and out of the business, but it works less dependent from you. And that's important.

[00:15:28] Why Simon believes niching down doesn't work

[00:15:28] Michel: I thought the cheetah was the last one, but, um, I was happy to, to see that there's a, there's a happy dog at the end. Makes sense. I wanna pick on something you've said in the past and you were giving an example of, of one guy who was in tech, one of your clients, and he was basically doing anything that was related to technology, and one of the things that you did with him initially was to narrow it down to one specific offer, which is for most people, so counterintuitive, right? Because you wanna cast a, a wide net and you wanna make sure that you help people on different front. Can you explain a bit your, your thinking around that, and obviously the results that you can get by adopting such an approach.

[00:16:13] Simon: Yes. So over the last 21 years we learned a couple things about niching down. Like everybody wants to niche down, niche down. It doesn't really work to niche down, but what works is imagine it's like a store. Your business is like a store in the front people see your products, you want to have a very clear offer, and in the back you can do whatever you want. So when I walked to your store, I want to see are, are, you a candy store or can I buy fish here? Right? It's not the same thing. So that your, your offer must be very clear. And so we work in the first week of the sprint. We work on making the, we call it the irresistible offer. It's very clear, it's low risk, it's high proof, and it has a duration, and it has an outcome. Let me give you a couple examples.

[00:17:16] How to build an irresistible offer

[00:17:16] Simon: We work with a creative agency from Berlin. They do branding, now branding. Nobody knows what the heck is branding, so it's high risk. I would send you $30,000 and I don't know what I'm getting. So we changed it. The front of the store is, Hey, I build a video for you that goes on top of your hero section of your website, and so the first seven seconds of your website will rock. That's what I deliver. Do you want it? Oh yeah, I want it. So there are first packages. 5K paid upfront and they get as many revisions as they want. The outcome will be three weeks later, they have a a video on the hero section of their website that really rocks and it explains who they are and how they work. Now this agency has quadrupled sales by just doing that. Because before they were like every other agency, they were saying, Hey, come to us. We can do your logo, we can maintain your website. We can improve your branding. What the heck is branding? Well, I'll tell you later. So it was confusing. Now they say, okay, boom. Video. They call it the purpose video, right? I make your purpose video after those three weeks. They got 5K. It's absolutely automated. Obviously even the intern can do that 'cause it's always the same thing. Now you can optimize it. After those three weeks, you can pick and choose do we like this client or not? If they like them, then they say, you know what? I can do also your logo. I can also maintain your website. So in the back you can do whatever you want. If you like them, offer them more. But only if you like them and only if you have proof that working with them is fun for you and for them. Both parties are successful. That's a good project. Then you expand that, but you see the difference. Most agencies don't have a clear offer. In three weeks, your website rocks. That's the clear offer or our offer in three months, your revenue doubles. It's very clear.

[00:19:37] Michel: So basically the approach is to think about it as a brick and mortar type of, of store where you have, a clear product that you offer so people know clearly what you're doing,Whether you are a supermarket or a, uh, you know, computer repair store.

[00:19:55] So there's a, there's no doubt in their, their mindset. And then the other thing that you're saying is to make sure that your offer is not open-ended. It's not like, let's discuss the scope that the scope and, and the timeline is, is clear from, from the get go. I like that.

[00:20:09] You are, uh, the author of a book called Strategy Sprints, 12 Ways to Accelerate Growth for an Agile Business. And you've mentioned that earlier today, that you like to work in sprints. I think you've mentioned seven day, uh, sprints. Can you tell us a bit about how that works? I mean, a lot of our audience are product tech people. They've been using, a scrum or, two week sprint already. But when you think about it from a , a leader, a founder, a uh, an entrepreneur, how does that look like?

[00:20:42] Simon: Yes, the book was. giving our services, which is simplifying creating dashboards for founders to more founders. Because not every founder can afford a one-to-one Sprint coach, but we still wanted them to have this because it's tough to be a founder. If you don't have an operating system, if you don't have marketing systems, sales systems and ops systems, you are in trouble. So I was like, let's give this to the world. Let's make it a book. And the book, you know, everybody has 20 bucks to invest into this. And so it became a book and now it's getting translated into Chinese. So it seems to be helpful for the world. And it's all about those three things, the marketing systems that you need as an owner, the sales systems and the ops systems, including hiring, how you do the interview, the demo, and then the onboarding. And it's very practical. It's my checklists that I've used over the last decades to build my own business and. If you are an owner of a digital business, and if it's a high ticket business, then this is exactly, uh, the cookbook, the recipes, how, how you can run your business. Um, that's, that's the strategies Sprint book.

[00:22:10] Simon's take on AI and automation

[00:22:10] Michel: You've talked about, technology a bit and simplification. And, you know, in my experience, what I frequently see, if you apply technology to a bad process, you're not doing the right things, right.

[00:22:20] You're gonna just get, you know, worse output. a lot of people focus on, you know, ChatGPT, AI, uh, automation these days. Do you think that, in some cases this is making things worse because it encourages people to find a tech solution to their habits or to their internal problems? What's your take on that?

[00:22:41] Simon: Yes, you know, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Most people are using AI software to make terrible things more terrible. an example, I, I was on stage with Google and they were asking us how we are using AI in sales. And so I, I, I saw how people are using AI in sales and it's just to send more terrible emails. I said, no, guys, it's really different. AI and sales means you have 20 McKinsey analysts in your room for 30 bucks a month. Use them wisely. Use them wisely. Give them strategic analysis tasks, give them deep research tasks. Give them big hairy problems, and they will solve them. So that's just an example of AI in sales. But you can go through every, how people use A CRM, how people use, um, any software really. They ask me, Simon, which CRM should I use? And I say, before I answer this, let's go back to first principles. Why do you want to use a CRM? Uh, I want to remember conversations. Okay. How many. What are the stages? How many conversations do you really need to remember per week? And what are the stages of relationship building that you have? So first we create those five stages, and then I say, now you can use whatever CRM you want. The only important thing, and you can even be a spreadsheet, the only important thing is that you use it every day and that your team uses it every day. Which now leads us to the features, right? It should work on every phone. That's why the big CRMs are not the best ones because they don't work well on the phone. So it should work on the phone. Your team should love to use it, and it integrates with with your emails and calendar, and you can put some emails on, on template so that it becomes easier to use. This is an example, right? So when people ask me about a technical question, I usually go back to what the purpose is. Then we structure how they will use it, and then I recommend the software in the awareness that we will change software every couple years, but we will never change the core process, how we use it. So those five stages, I can change my CRM system next week, I can change the software, but those stages and my email templates, they will stay always the same.

[00:25:29] Michel: Yeah. I, I, I like that because I've experienced the same thing with dashboards. I, I have a similar approach. Uh, I have more than just three numbers though, but, I always start with the spreadsheet because sometimes if you start with a, um, Looker Studio, PowerBI, or you know, a very fancy tool, you get lost.

[00:25:47] Right. Uh, as opposed to, you know, I need to understand exactly what I'm trying to track and how it's helping me on a daily basis. So I like that.

[00:25:55] What Simone borrowed from his triathlon coach

[00:25:55] Michel: One of the things you mentioned just now was, you know, you have to use it every day and this is something that you've mentioned elsewhere in the past. You talk about habits or daily, weekly habits.

[00:26:06] I'm curious, if you can share some of them, whether it's a it's for an entrepreneur or for a team member. What are the key habits that we need to develop to, build better businesses and get a better life?

[00:26:20] Simon: It's funny, I, I had a triathlon coach 'cause I was doing triathlons and so my coach knew exactly if I'm running too fast or too slow and would send me a message, Simon, you are running too fast. And I would go, how the heck do you know? And he said, well, your Garmin watch is giving me the data. And I go back to my desk and say, why is my business not organized like this? We should know real time data about what we are doing in the business. How can we be less organized than athletes are? That doesn't make sense. Like we are the business people. We should be organized. So. I go to my business and say, let's take some decisions here. If something is important, we will know the progress in real time, and that means on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, if it's not important enough to look at it on a daily basis, should we do it. Should we even do it? And then I said, oh wow, it's radical. Let's test it for a month. I said to every project that I was in, I said, we need a real time dashboard and we need a weekly review session of half an hour. Now half of those projects says, no, I don't want to reflect this every week. It's not moving enough that we have something to reflect. Then I said, then this is not working. Let's stop it. Let's accept that this is not working. And the other half said, oh yeah, cool. Great idea. And so I had only half of the projects in that month, but they were all successful. And this was my main learning. I said, okay, I, I will never go back to monthly measurings or quarterly measurings. Let me stay in the real time world only daily and weekly habits. And so now I, if, if I take on a client or a project, they will have a weekly review and the real time dashboard. Otherwise I don't do it. It changed everything. I have fewer projects, but they are always successful and they bring on more projects because when, when you win, that brings in winners. And when winners come in, they win. It's a very simple, positive flywheel. The best way to attract winners is to win, and when you attract winners, you win more. It's so simple, right? We all can do it.

[00:29:16] Measuring inputs to get real time data and successful projects

[00:29:17] Michel: I'm trying to think about, , I'm looking at my week or, our audiences' week.. Can you give me some examples of how you would measure some things? Because, you know, if you take sales, for instance, I, I think sales is the, or even marketing to a certain extent if you don't get it to branding, but, they're relatively easy projects and tasks to measure, right? The input is usually very, very simple measure, but, um, I mean, you're on podcasts, you write books, these kind of things. How do you break it down, you know, into, um, into , a weekly progress? And also, how do you make sure that, uh, you don't drop a project that may be a bit more long term? I'll give you an example. You wanna sign a big partnership with somebody. It's not like you're gonna talk to that person every single day, right? their delays in what's happening? So how do you approach that?

[00:30:03] Simon: You can measure the inputs, so you can measure the number of follow-ups. You can measure the number of presentations that you gave per week, not just the outputs. Outputs take longer. I. If they sign or not, that's a longer term output, but the inputs you can measure already, is it important for you to give presentations or not? If it is, then you can measure the number of presentations that you have given in that week. If it's not, why should you present at all? Then when you decide intentionally that that activity is very important for you, then you will have something to measure every week because you will improve it every week. The things that you look at, they become better because you're bringing more energy there, so you are improving them.

[00:30:59] But if you're doing too many, you are not improving any of those. But let's say you focus on three things, number of presentations, number of podcasts, and the third thing. Now they will get better because now the volume of you being on podcasts will be higher and you can measure now your call to action. I will measure my call to action on this podcast very simple way. In the end, I will offer something that they can download and I will know in real time in Slack dinging people downloaded this.

[00:31:34] Michel: Do you have examples of projects that, if we go back to either your team or, or with some of your clients where you said, at the end of the week, why are we doing this, and maybe there, there are patterns there, I guess.

[00:31:47] 60% of what you do is not important

[00:31:47] Simon: Yes. So many pe many teams realize, oh my God, we are doing so many activities, but 60% of them are not important. The amount of meetings that they have that produce nothing, the amount of time that they spend posting on social media, that produces nothing. most of the teams realize, wow, I just need to do maybe 20% or 30% of the things that I do every week. But doing them like an engineer, looking at them and improving them by 1% every week, and then it becomes much more, much better. Let's say you pick just one marketing activity being on podcasts. If you do that, like I'm doing it, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be on your podcast, right? So now I'm on five podcasts every afternoon, takes me around three hours. And I measure exactly because in the end I say, Hey, download this. And so Slack tells me, okay, 15 people download it, five people download it, 240 people download it. So I know exactly if it's working or not in real time. The moment the the podcast gets published, usually the next 20 hours, I know the results. In some podcasts they. continue bringing, bringing people, but most don't. And so I can optimize the last five minutes. What exactly are you saying in the last five minutes? You can do ab tests, you know, if in a day that full day I will say the a call to action, Hey, subscribe to my blog. And then the next day I do five and I do the b call to action download my the your free dashboard template. Now I've done an AB test, which is what every good marketer, good manager, good product person does, you do AB test everything. The more you ab test, the more you win. Ab, AB testing can be done in every situation of your of your business. Everyone. But you will only do it and measure and learn if you do a few things,

[00:34:09] Michel: Talking about the last five minutes, uh, you'll have to test, I dunno if it's the AB or, or c, um, CTAs,

[00:34:17] but, I don't wanna take too much of your time. I know you're, you're busy, but, um. One of the things, maybe a more, I don't wanna say spiritual question, but we, we believe in meaningful businesses, right?

[00:34:30] Do you have any advice for audience on, you know, building something that is meaningful or maybe, you know, some guidelines to keep in mind, not to get into, um, a mindset of just raising money for raising money or raising money becomes, let's say your, your, your measure of success instead of having maybe a more intentional and meaningful life.

[00:34:52] Simon: Yes, I would take half an hour and do the strategic value exercise. It's six questions. It starts with, what do your people need right now? What do they really need, are concerned with, are frustrated about? And then it moves on to what are you really good at? And so in in this way, it's six simple questions, but when you answer the sixth one, you know exactly what you should do this week. And, and that's what I do every time I am. I lack clarity about what is now really important this week. I go to the strategic value, I go through these six questions and I'm happy to share the tool with your people. It's at strategies The very first tool is the strategic value tool. I do this, it's six questions, and after the sixth one, I know what I should do. Now, if there is an AI that can help me do that faster, I will use it of course, if there is a software that can take away the boring part. And so I, I can focus on the creative part, on the human part, of course I will use it, but first I ask, what do my people need right now? What should I be doing? And then I check the technical, most efficient way to do it.


[00:36:20] Michel: Where's the best way to, uh, find you? I think you're quite active on LinkedIn, but is that the, the best channel for our audience to find you?

[00:36:27] Simon: Yes. So we are everywhere. The the hub is The tool, uh, you can download is at, and you find us on all socials. I'm most active on X Simon Severino.

[00:36:42] Michel: Well, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate your insights and, generosity. We'll make sure that our audience has access to your links and, hope to, uh, stay in touch.

[00:36:52] Thank you

[00:36:52] Simon: michel, keep rolling.

[00:36:54] Thanks again for listening, I hope you enjoyed the show. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And as usual you can find the show notes at stunandawecom.

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