📕 How to handle acquisition interest; A tiered approach to ABM campaigns; Building “exceptional relationships”...

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💃 Inbound acquisition interest can be both incredibly exciting and distracting for founders. It often prompts an internal debate of whether you should do the song and dance to figure out if it’s the right time to exit, or if you should just keep your head down and scale as you have been. Storm Ventures had some great advice on how to deal with inbound, and the differences in interest from public companies, PE funds, or private strategics. Even if selling isn’t something you are considering in the near future, it’s generally worth taking these calls because at some point, you likely will be. Plus, having conversations early will show you what about your business excites buyers (so you can double down there) and also provide invaluable experience in dealing with groups similar to (or who could even end up being) your buyer. 

🦙 As we have delved into before, there is risk in both over measuring and under measuring your business – you don’t want to get too granular and lose sight of your north star goal, but you of course don’t want to under report and misunderstand the variables which are impacting your business. This same problem exists with investors and the data they require their investments to provide them. Alpaca VC’s approach seems like a good middle ground, establishing 4-5 OKRs (objectives and key results) at their point of investment, which are separate but aligned with what the company already tracks. They then revisit these OKRs at the end of every quarter and rank performance on a 1 - 5 scale, writing out a summary of what led the company to hit or miss goals. It feels like the right level of involvement for groups who are not working with you in day to day operations but are invested in your success.

🧃 Account based marketing (ABM) is a targeted effort in that it aims at a select group of high priority accounts rather than casting a wide net which catches leads of all shapes and sizes, many of which won’t be good fits. But there’s an even more specific approach you can be using for ABM – a tiered approach. It divides ABM targets into three categories: Strategic, Lite, and Programmatic, then outlines the specific tasks you should use based on the target’s tier. For example, it could be worth your while to roll out the red carpet for strategic accounts and create personalized ads specific to their business, but for a programmatic account that seems like a good customer but has limited upside, the juice might not be worth the squeeze. 

📹 B2B buyers are typically 57% along the way to a buying decision before they talk with sales (via CEB Global), so your website might actually play a bigger role in selling than your team. Hubspot highlighted some good B2B product sites for your inspiration, and explained why they do a good job of selling. Cringey video edits aside, there are some helpful nuggets of wisdom – we liked the suggestion of only using 5 colors and 3 typefaces / font sizes on your site to prevent visitors from getting overwhelmed, as well as only using graphics in areas where you need to encourage visitors to complete a task or function (i.e. they need real purpose). They also give praise to sites which use their homepage to filter buyers by persona, then lead to verticalized landing pages with use case specific content. Verticalized segmentation is not newsworthy, but very intentionally guiding visitors right from the start of your site can be incredibly impactful and is rarely implemented.

🥐 In David Bradford and Carole Robin’s Connect, the two Stanford professors cover what they call “exceptional relationships”, in which you feel free to be your sincere self around another person. It’s an interesting topic relative to business because in most cases, we are more guarded with work relationships than personal ones. To gain more sincere relationships, they suggest trying the 15% rule, where you attempt to share 15% more than you feel is “safe” with others. That tiny bit of additional sharing can help you be seen as more human, and sets a norm that encourages your team to do the same. They also share the importance of quality feedback to relationships, and caution to not get caught serving “feedback sandwiches”. These not so tasty morsels start with positive feedback, followed by the real feedback you wanted to give, and end on another positive note as to not be too harsh. The book is a culmination of their interpersonal communications grad teachings, and serves as a much quicker (and less expensive) course!