Today I'm joined by Ton Dobbe.
[00:00:19] Ton: Welcome Ton. nice to be on the, on the show. Really looking forward
[00:00:22] Corey: to this. I'm looking forward to it too. so could you share a little bit about yourself and the work you do with the audience?
[00:00:29] Ton: Yeah, sure. You could call me a consultant.
about six years ago, I started my own company and it sort of became a mission for me to help B2B SaaS companies out there. What I saw is that a lot of B2B SaaS companies have fantastic products, but they struggle to stand out. So what I put all my energy is, Help them crystallize what makes them remarkable, then identify with them who's prepared to pay premium for that and why.
And then I help them with their positioning and their value proposition so that they can start to create what I call predictable traction, because that's at the end, always the goal.
[00:01:03] Corey: Beautiful. I love all of these topics. Definitely. excited to have our conversation today. For context, I believe. in previous conversations and just by being familiar with you and your background, before you started your consultancy, you were, at a company called Unit four.
I think you came up through product marketing. Could you share with us a little bit about what unit four is as well as how you sort of went to market at that company with regard to verticalization?
[00:01:31] Ton: Oh, that's a long story indeed. Um, yeah, I've been at 26 years. That's why I'm saying it's a long story.
It's a long story. I know it's
[00:01:38] Corey: 26 years. That's amazing. One
[00:01:40] Ton: company. But I mean, I've been doing every three years I've been doing something else, and that, that at the end keeps it like, uh, like I'm working for a new company every time again. But you, you're right it started on the Netherlands, back in the nineties.
Let's, let's skip that. Indeed ipo, end of the nineties, started acquiring businesses. And at some point we acquired a company from Norway called reso, and that was a product that was like an E R P for the services industry. So they. Uh, like an Eckert p with finance and procurement and project management and HR and these type of things.
And they sold it to central government, local government education, professional services, not-for-profit. Everyone that is delivering value through their people. That's how I got introduced to verticalization because my initial work was always in the, in the s and b market with a, with a small, small and medium business e r P, and we sold it to everybody.
When I got into the new world, my, my job turned international. and that's where we started to work with the mid-market and large organizations. and you can imagine if you sell your suite to a professional service company that is, for example, building, The palm tree in Dubai, like, like a large professional service company with all engineers, and the next day you're meeting a local authority in the area, area of Boston.
It's totally different language. So, uh, that's how, yeah, the whole importance of verticalization kicked in.
[00:03:05] Corey: So when you acquired that company, were they already organized in such a way that they had separate sort of, People and resources targeting these different verticals? Or is that something that came after the acquisition?
[00:03:17] Ton: No, no, no. That was already in place. Mm-hmm. They were already, for example, in the uk, they had a pretty good traction with, uh, with local government and with, uh, education. And there was also unit level focus specifically on, professional services industry, typically demand of consultants, the engineering consultants and so on.
Where, for example, in Norway, they had, uh, yeah, I mean, Almost 95% market share in central government around 80 or 90% in local government. A lot of not, not-for-profits. So for every country we had, like there were different sweet spots in different vertical markets and they were also dedicated teams going for those markets.
Cuz you cannot, if you're a salesperson, and you need to demo and, and, and you got a presales person coming with you. You need to speak the, language of that industry. Could you? The product wasn't, the product wasn't verticalized though.
[00:04:08] Corey: Okay. So that's interesting. Yeah. The sales and marketing approach was verticalized and localized.
Absolutely. Potentially. But then they, regardless whether you were a government or education or, or or other verticals, they would effectively get the same product.
[00:04:23] Ton: They would get us, well, I mean, at the end, you know, you buy an Eckert p you buy the finance and you buy procurement and the, the payroll, the HR and so on.
but they were all then, I mean, the, the product was extremely flexible. yeah, it was implemented according to, yeah. Yeah. The, the habits and the, the language that was used in that particular vertical, in that particular, uh, country as well, because it's also very often different except from language.
Apart from language, it's also very different country to country. Interesting. Yeah. Interesting. And I mean, the, the interesting thing was, for example, in the UK we had, I mean, there's about 120 universities with that product we did, we had about 80. 80 of them as a customer. Um, and we didn't, we didn't have anything to do with their core business, which is student management and, and the learning practice.
We just did their finance. Yeah. And we started with the, the biggest ones, which is also an interesting thing. Normally you think, okay, we start with a small one and then we do another one, and then we get some traction and um, we start growing up. They turn it completely upside down. They start with the, the largest universities out there because.
Of the differentiation that the product brought across. Mm-hmm. Um, which was its whole project accounting capabilities. And that was extremely valuable for organizations that, for example, in uni, in education organizations that do, did, uh, research, for example, uh, Nottingham, uh, university in Cambridge and Oxford, these type of organizations, they have all I do of course, that they, they, they do study, they help people study.
Um, and yeah, get their grades. But on the other end they also have big research arms, uh, and that, that became our sweet pull there. So it was a very interesting way of going to market.
[00:06:08] Corey: It is. And so at that time, you had acquired this company, they'd had these sort of vertical go to market approach. With these different teams who are specialists in government or universities, education, these different things, how did that evolve over time, after the acquisition?
and how were you involved in that
[00:06:26] Ton: process? Yeah. Well, that's a very good question. Um, initially we, we just kept going and we kept, I mean, I started to kind of own the whole product marketing side of things and we started to, uh, tune our messaging towards these vertical markets. Uh, and I remember very well, I was in Boston at some point in time.
It's also, I mean, I wrote in my book, I'm, I'm referring to that, that conversation on page number one, I guess. Mm-hmm. Which was more of an eyeopener for me. Uh, when it, when it comes to like the art of positioning, uh, and the art of kind of creating a value proposition that resonates. I was. Briefing an industry analyst from technology evalu, uh, evaluation services, uh, Pedro.
and after about half an hour into that, and I was in this, in the Marriott in Boston, we were sitting there and going through my slide deck. And at some point he said, okay, you know, time out because. That's definitely something that is super different about your product, but you got a very strange way of talking about it, so, so I think I understand what you get and, and there is, I, I understand why this is really important.
Get some help. So, so that's, um, That's where we did, we started to, to uh, really hone in on, um, yeah, on positioning and value proposition work. And I did, I, I did hire an external, external consultants for that, that mm-hmm. That opened my eyes in a number of ways. Yeah. And that's where, yeah, I mean, things started to flow from there in a completely different and accelerated from there in a completely different way.
and it, it really became clear to me that yes, we had an horizontal product and we were selling that across various vertical markets. Yeah. And we also realized that we were not the best solution for everybody in that market. You know, we were not the best solution, um, except in, well you could say different for Norway and for Sweden, where they had 90% market share in certain verticals.
Uh, but that were more government deals. You start to realize, okay, okay, now that we've repositioned, and now that we got it crystal clear, what makes us remarkable? And we, we did this study and we started to interview customers and we interviewed f. 10 of this customer and 10 there, and then five of them said, 10 of them said, I, I love it because it's so flexible.
And the other were like, we, yeah. Well, I wouldn't say we hate it, but it's so flexible. It's like, we wish we had something more standard and that it's like, wait a minute, what's going on here? You know, because they were using the same products and from the outside they were exactly the same in terms of how big they were, how many, how much revenue they had, what type of service they were doing.
Just a totally different reaction. And that's where we started to figure out, okay, hey, wait a minute. There's something about these products that one group loves, and why do they love it? And, and why is that important? And the other group doesn't. And that helps us with really narrowing down this segmentation.
Like you say, like I said in the beginning, what makes us remarkable and who's prepared to pay premium for that. And from there onwards. Once we nailed that, uh, we started winning eight out of 10 deals and we had competitors, uh, qualifying out when we were in the deal. Uh, co competitors we were heavily impressed with or intimidated with before that.
And, um, that's where I sort of got the, um, the fever. Yeah. Yeah. For this, for this business.
[00:09:50] Corey: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I've, I've got that fever too. Uh uh, which is awesome. The, so. Let me try and, recast this and, and help me make sure I, let me know if I didn't get this or if I did get this right. So you, you had this sort of horizontal product, you had these vertical markets.
Did you, did you find that you needed to create differentiation and unique positioning at the vertical level in addition to the, the global
[00:10:19] Ton: brand? Yes and no. Yep. That's, uh, I mean, of course you have to speak the language because in budget, in local government, when you talk about profit, They look at you and like, you're crazy.
We don't have profits. We have a budget and we have to keep within the budget. We cannot overspend there. Right? So that, that's language. And of course there's, there's all kind of other language that's verticalized What we found, and that is, yeah, I mean, I, I should have said that in my story is that we were, yes, going after various vertical markets, but we realized we are not, maybe not the best for everybody in there, but there's a slice in there.
Whereby the characteristics of those businesses, whether that's local government or professional service company or not-for-profit or, or an education university where they share similar type of characteristics that are made for this product. Interesting. Uh, so you were That's where where we started.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay. And that was about change. Uh, these were all organizations that were taking change as something good, something to, um, Yeah. To, to really embrace and do something with, to stand out in their marketplace. Uh, the organizations that hated change, yeah. They wanted to go, well, they wanted to have something that was out of the box implemented.
Don't change it. Well, you can't change it anyway, so that didn't matter. But the ones that did, we had a huge advantage. And um, but we figured out at some point that you could almost send a local government for a reference visit to a professional service company and they would speak the same language. So, in other words,
[00:11:51] Corey: yeah, so in other words, you, you positioned based on that, that common shared problem or pain point or, or initiative.
So regardless of whether they were government, education, universities, um, that was sort of where you started, but you ended up was businesses that, um, that had a focus on change. We're gonna be the ones that are gonna, gonna be the best suited for the benefits
[00:12:15] Ton: of your product. Exactly. Yeah. We actually made an acronym for it, or the, the consultant that work with us, uh, Judith Rothrock.
She, she, she nailed, she labeled it, blink Businesses Living in Chains. If you blink your eyes, that world has changed. And, uh, right, we all think about, for example, local government doesn't happen. I mean, these don't, these people don't change. Well, my god, these, these organizations are, It's, it's neither long, it's ongoing.
Um, cuz they have so many services. You know, some, some of these local authorities have 50 services, whether you're a local authority of 8,000 in evidence or 80,000. And I have actually been interviewing two local authorities next to each other. Stockholm in a small town, I forgot the name of that, like 80,000 versus uh, or 800,000 versus 8,000 citizens.
Exactly the same type of portfolio in terms of the services that they provide to their people. And they have to just do it within the budget and they have to be clever with it. And, uh, it's constantly tuning. And, uh, and because it's about people, I mean, if they have to adjust things, uh, for example, if they have to lower cost, they cannot say like, like a production company.
We just lower our stock. We just buy less products, um, or we dump our, we dump our, our stock so that we get rid of it. No, you're dealing with people here. You cannot say, this week I need 800 people and next week I need 400, and then I need six, 6,000 doesn't work like that. So it's, it's really mini Yeah.
Miniature change every single day.
[00:13:46] Corey: Was was that, that, um, the blink and the, and the positioning around change and, and, and that whole um, uh, that whole positioning, was that differentiated relative to the other people who you were going up against? What were they, how were they positioning themselves?
[00:14:02] Ton: Not that because they were, that was their weak spot.
S a P, you know, I mean, companies, I mean, I have full respect for our competitors always, and that's also what I'm doing with my current work. I'm always trying to look at the competition with respect. Yeah. Because the people that buy those products are not stupid. A lot of times you think, oh yeah, well they're stupid because they don't buy our products.
No. Have respect for that and start thinking about, have empathy. What do they want? I don't see in you, but I see it in them. So, for example, people that buy s a p, they don't buy it for, for making change. They buy it for getting control for top-down initiatives, for being super process oriented. That's what the product is perfect for.
And um, but yeah, the moment you, you need, I mean, I had customers that, that I was talking to a CFO at some point in time at a, a very large IT service company in Belgium. And after one and a half hour he said, okay, let's, we couldn't find a good example or, um, and it was because they're doing so much change.
And he said, we, we, there was a government log, governmental change about, uh, rental cars. Uh, there were company cars and there were going to be an additional tax on that. Um, So everybody in the company was, was impacted by that because they all had company cars. So everybody was moaning about it. We have to pay more tax.
And he said, yeah, well, uh, we, we realized, okay, we have to capture a little bit more information. We have to change the process here and there, then we have to create reports for the, for the employee, for our business and for the government. He said, but that just took 10 minutes. Is that what you mean? I said, that's what I mean, if you would've to do that with an s a p or an Oracle and respect for them.
It's, yeah, you have to kind of bring a couple of consultants in there and they have to make changes all over the place for the right business, for manufacturing companies. Perfect solution, you know? Yeah. For wholesale distribution. Perfect solution. Yeah. Yeah. For companies living in change, not so good. At least in that, in that era.
[00:16:00] Corey: Sure. Yeah, yeah, of course. I think that's really powerful. And uh, that kind of speaks to sort of the work that you do now in your consulting. You have a book that you put, that you put out and you talk a lot about. Um, and you, you, you teach about, uh, positioning and messaging and differentiation. could you talk a little bit about, this concept of predictable traction?
You mentioned it in your book. Yeah. What is
[00:16:27] Ton: It is the ability to keep growing in good and bad times. And when we get traction, I mean, typically everybody always think about startups. You build a product and then you start to, you start to get, uh, the first customers and the first 10 and then first hundred and so on.
So that traction is building. The market is dynamic and that's, uh, that's something that a lot of people forget. we just had Covid as a good example, and after Covid came an economy crisis, and then there was a war and it had all kind of supply chain issues. So our, the, the customers we sell to and that buy our products are constantly in a, yeah, in a flux of all kind of, Changes that they make themselves, um, like the aspirations that they are that they're trying to achieve every single year and the, the external pressure from the outside.
So what their priorities are and the pain points are, is always changing. And that's where when you talk about product markets fit, it's, yeah, it's almost like illusion. It's always, there's always something else that needs to happen in order to keep the product market fit. And if you don't do that, the traction will some point stall.
You know, and then, then I'm not even talking about the fact that you also need get new competitors, which are going to steal a little bit of business from you. Now, if there's, if in an ideal world without any competitors even, then it'll stall. And that's what I'm talking about. First of all, okay, so what is your, what is the foundational things you have to get right?
Then? How do you get momentum building momentum, traction, momentum? And then how do you keep that momentum going? And that's the resilience part. Okay. So how do you ensure, Yeah. You have the resourcefulness in the business to, to ensure that you are ready, that you can be ready and have the resources to, to be ready for the next thing.
[00:18:10] Corey: could you share some ideas about how to, design a business so that it creates that Oh, yeah, yeah. That, that predictable
[00:18:16] Ton: traction. Yeah, well, like I said, it's uh, I see it in three. I mean, in my book I'm talking about three levers, three phases almost. Yeah. Uh, the first one in my book, I'm talking about the value lever.
Then I'm talking about the viability lever. And then the last one is the volume lever. And the viability and volume can, al, can, can actually be exchanged for each other. To start off, it's always starts with the value lever. And in my work at these days, they call it the, the Traction Foundation. Um, So what is it all about?
You know, your, the value of your company. Uh, I talked about it before. What makes you remarkable in the eyes of your customers? Because a lot of companies start thinking about, okay, what, what makes it remarkable is our user interface. You know, it's so, so slick. I've never seen anything slicker than this.
That's not what I mean. Customers couldn't care less. Um, so that is all about, uh, what I typically go through is an exercise with my customers to, first of all, Build what I call and I refer to, and there's an essay on my website on that, the segmentation cocktail. What is your ideal segmentation cocktail?
So think about, you know, the margarita that you love or that cocktail that you love. There's all kind of ingredients in there and what a lot of companies. Forget when they're doing the segmentation is to go beyond thermographics and demographics. What they say is, okay, it's a company of this size, 500 to a thou to to 2000 people, uh, in this region, and they do this for a business and they have so much revenue and blah, blah, blah.
All the things that you can actually search for on LinkedIn,
[00:19:48] Ton: it's all good, but that's more or less Yeah. Paving the, yeah, the, the outside. boundaries of where you're going to look for companies. Yeah. Then you find 10,000, well, I can gu I can guarantee you 9,000 will likely not buy from you. Mm-hmm.
So where you wanna focus is the thousand that do. And so what characterizes them? And that's where you start to throw in all the ingredients. Like what are the dynamics? That they're living. I mean, talking about an example earlier on, they live in change, for example. They do a lot of acquisitions. They are, there's, there's heavily regulatory.
So these are unique things for a certain group in that market that you can uniquely address. what are the risks they tolerate? what is, for example, non-negotiable for them? Is it quality? Is it speed? Is it reliability? Is it consistency? I mean, they have ideas around that. What do they secretly want?
What do they value? What do they aspire? All of these things, it's all, it's all people type thing. You cannot look for that on LinkedIn, but you can address it with your messaging. So if you understand that first, and ideally when that's, that's of course where product market fit is really helpful because then you have customers and you can see, okay, I've got a hundred customers.
These are the 20. I'd love to get a thousand of. These are the, this is a group that, yeah, we, they bought a solution and we needed the money in that period in time. But if they would've buy, if they would go to the competition, we would actually wave them goodbye. What is the difference between them? Right?
Sure. Right. And if you articulate that, that's where you create your, your segmentation, cook sale. Well, once, once you've got that, then you can start to look with empathy. Okay, what are their unique problems and, and also like what are the problems that they. That others might have that they don't care about and the other way around.
So that's where you can start to hone in that you create a long list of problems. 50 maybe. And then for each problem, uh, I'm talking about it in my book and I'm talking about a triangle, and that's about three key questions to ask. Uh, how valuable is it to solve this for every problem you, you, you ranked at, on a scale of one to 10, how valuable it is to solve for them?
In their eyes, and how valuable is this and this and this. and then you can actually start sorting most valuable, least valuable. Second question is, how critical is it to solve it? Because if it's something is valuable but not critical, it's a nice to have and you can try to sell and sell and sell, but they will continuously postpone the deal, cuz not now other priorities.
then the third question comes in, because now you have a combination of highly valuable or highly critical. if you have those two numbers, you can multiply them. You end up with a number between zero and and a hundred. Focus on the one that are above, above 80. Then you start answering question, okay, and where can we with our solution exceed expectations?
And that's where your remarkability comes in. Where do you, your customers say, oh my God, oh my God, if you would take it away from me, I would scream. Yeah, I will pay you double, uh, to, to please keep it here. So what are those things? And, and I'm, uh, on my website, I'm talking about magic concepts. What are those magic concepts inside your solution?
And the reason why I'm talking about it, because I don't want it to be a feature cuz a competitor can then say, okay, ah, you're positioning around that feature. I make a team of 20 developers available for one or two sprints and we have it as well, like check. Now, it needs to be something that had, that has sort of defensible differentiation, uh, ideally so deep that if you compare the ones to match you there, they have to rebuild the whole solution.
That is really where the power is. And once you understand that, that's where you have all the ammunition to start positioning yourself, create a value proposition. That is, irresistible for customers. Uh, you can start to take position. A lot of companies think they are positioned. That's another thing that, uh, I, I'm always renting about, but they're not positioned.
And what is happening then is that their competitors will position them exactly as they like. All your, your customers will put, put you in a position and you might not like that. Right. So it's really important to take position, uh, and get over that I Yeah. That hurdle of, yeah. But we might ex get excluded from a couple of deals.
[00:23:56] Corey: What, point in the businesses life cycle does is, is it important to do this work? Is it day one or after they've got some product market fit or somewhere down
[00:24:08] Ton: the road? Yeah. I mean, of course you have to. If you, if you're just starting with your idea and you get your minimum remarkable product, I don't like to talk about minimum viable products.
Cause minimum viable in a lot of people's eyes is a case. It's the really bare minimum for something to actually run now. It needs to be minimum remarkable. so you go deep on a certain number of things. That's where, I mean, you, you cannot even position yourself cause you're testing things out. Uh, and at some point customers say, Hey, I want this.
And another one wants this. And do they want the same thing or do they want it? Does one want a little bit more or a little less? That's how you start to go towards product market fit. But you can already start to see like where, yeah, where does this resonate and what is this really all about? The ideal moment where positioning comes in is where you have product market fit, where uh, you're sort of hitting you.
You should start growing faster, but you're hitting those ceilings. Yeah, because it's not clear enough. Clarity is king at the end.
[00:25:04] Corey: Clarity is king. I love that. I was just thinking about uh, Donald Miller's statement Yeah. Earlier today, which is like, if you confuse, you lose.
[00:25:13] Ton: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, I quote him in my book cuz I mean I'm a big fan of Donald.
[00:25:18] Corey: Me too. That's awesome.
can you talk a little bit more, you mentioned about the segmentation, like how do you approach segmentation, in, with, with a, SaaS client?
[00:26:26] Ton: yeah, like I said, I, I always start from the customer perspective and initially I start with the team internally. Okay, what do you know about your customer?
And I ask, I ask it to the people that are, I mean, I'm doing, I'm doing what I call pressure cookers, four weeks sprint. Where by bringing internal and external people and, first of all, capture all the crowdsource the knowledge internally because the sales know something. The marketing knows something.
The people in product, the product manager knows something. People in support know something. Customer success manager know a lot of things and you get a get already a pretty good picture about what the customer is about. Then I do a lot of research around the customer websites. Um, so what, who their customers that they want more of.
So the ideal customers, and that's typically something that's a gut feel. Okay. so they give me the list and then I start looking at their websites and, okay, what is, what do they say on their about page? What do they promise their customers? Interesting? What do they, what do they say? Some, uh, for example, when they hire people, what their organization is really all about.
And you learn a lot from that in terms of, What they stand for, and not, what they value. Of course, they sometimes they, they position their value pro the values on the website. what I promote internally, I mean, how the culture is really fitted together, whether they are really collaborative, whether they're, they're like, Top down.
you start at some point, you start to connect dots. I, I did a project for a company called Saana Commerce, uh, a couple of years ago for repositioning them. They've been around, I mean, good example of a company that has product market fit. Had, well, had a lot of product market fit.
They were in business for maybe eight, nine years already, and they thought that's an e-commerce platform, that they were the shortcuts to e-commerce. They had embedded their e-commerce platform inside an E R P, either s a P or Microsoft. And as a consequence, you didn't have to do the integrations anymore faster to get up and running.
The customers couldn't care less about that. So when I, when I started to, to re research them, and I saw companies like Michel and, uh, Royal Brinkman, a large company company in the hor horticulture industry in the Netherlands. I spoke to a number of, building material companies, really big ones from, from Mexico.
And when I started to look at all, look at them at the table, I figured out that, okay, there's multiple verticals here and they're all selling to b2b. and they all have been around for quite, quite a while. And that was something that I initially was like, I saw it, but I didn't kind of look at it. But what I figured out that the majority of their customers were more than 25 years old, sometimes 50, sometimes a hundred years old.
And their business was really all about building long-term relationships. And when I started talking to them about why that solution, and I did do these interviews in depth, they said it's not about, you know, getting the shortcut to e-commerce. You know, that's only a one-time moment. what we are all about is long-term relations.
And when we make a promise, we have to keep that promise. And that's what these guys do, like no one else because they have architected the product in a different way. So they're remarkable. They're remarkable. From an architecture perspective, because they're different from how Shopify and Magento and Wiz and all the others have do, are are doing it because they're integrating on top of an eerp and they are inside it.
So what, whenever a customer is looking at the website, Or they're calling them right, right. Uh, at the desk and say, do you have this available? The answer is the same. The price is the same, the stock is the same. The transportation costs are calculated the same. All of these B2B rules that they have agreed upon all the same.
when these companies, Are on the building side, for example, um, building material, uh, company that sell to big projects that are building big, big, condos and office buildings. When these companies buy from them and they say, I want to have a, a truck with, with these stones, and I wanna have another truck with these windows and I wanna have it tomorrow at four, they can guarantee it's gonna be there at four.
And expect exactly the right amounts. And that's what these companies are, are making their margin on cuz they can, utilize their whole team to just finish the job. Yeah. And that is powerful. You know, and you can, you can support and amplify what makes your customer special. Mm-hmm. That's what I'm trying to look for in how we segment, how we position and the value proposition.
[00:30:52] Corey: what advice would you have to, let's say a C E O of a, maybe a young SaaS company or maybe an agency? Who has taken a sort of a generalist, non-differentiated approach to their product. Let's say it's a horizontal product and hey, everybody needs a website, or, Hey, everybody needs, you know, a crm and they're thinking about taking more of a specialized vertical, maybe a verticalized approach to their business.
What advice would you have for them in that moment when they're trying to figure out like, what's the first step to take, to start specializing, their product or service?
[00:31:27] Ton: Yeah. I mean, uh, to me it doesn't really matter whether it's verticalizing or whether it's niching down. but it's getting, specific.
Okay. And starting. Well, I mean, fir first chapter in my book is remarkable. Software companies acknowledge they cannot please everyone. So try to please someone really, really well so that you know what you do in their eyes is remarkable because they will, they will help you find. Another one and another one, another one, and there will be enough.
Because in the south world it's always. You know, you start with an idea and, and then you, I mean, a lot of them, and luckily the, the, the funding market is a little bit, uh, cooled down right now. Yeah. But they, they started to sell their idea, and then the first question these investors ask, what is it, what is the size of your, to total vegetable markets?
And they wanted always to make it as big as possible. Oh, bigger of the better, right? Mm-hmm. It's, yeah, exactly. 40 billion growing, 35% car kegar and oh, No, I mean, fact that this market is fantastically big doesn't mean that they're going to buy you, you know, and I'd rather focus within that large tam on a sub segment of a sec segment of a subs segment where I can actually start scoring eight out of 10 deals.
Then I need 15 leads. And then I've got 12 customers year done. Right. And that comes down again to, yeah, acknowledge that you cannot please everyone. So who are the ones where you can make a truly true difference? And that goes back to starting with the triangle. I'm, I'm writing about in my book, make the list of problems that these customers have.
How valuable are they? What are the mo uh, what, which one are the most critical? And, and on, on top of that, where can you make a difference at this stage with the product or the services that you have? And then next year that might, might be different because your product has evolved. Okay. We do, we do it again.
It's, it's not that you, it's set, not set in stone. Yes. Well, yeah, of course. Ideally it would be set in stone and sometimes it's little. if you have product market fit and your products. Your, your core differentiation doesn't change every year again, then Okay, then that, that's stable. But if you're really in your infancy and your product is Yeah, just getting out of, uh, uh, like almost, uh, a 0.8 version better, better release.
That's a different, that's a different thing. Sure. It's much more organic at that point. But start there. zoom in. What, what is a, a section of that market? That you can own and dominate with what? With the thing that you have? In my, in my, in my book, I'm talking about, um, uh, a pretty interesting company from, um, from South Africa, um, Aero, oh, I've forgot the name.
Anyway, I'll, I'll, it will come to mind. It's a company that's, uh, that started their business as a drone service, taking pictures of farms. Yes. And you mentioned this. Yes, exactly. And then they realize, okay, yeah. Having a picture of, of, of the crop that you have, it might be valuable to some of them to see, okay, what, what's going on?
Cause these are really, really big there. Takes you three days to drive around the farm. Um, and then they realize, okay, there needs to be something that we can do with those pictures. for example, okay. Where do you need to focus your, your time and effort in terms of it's too dry. It's too wet.
there's disease here, disease there. And they realized, okay, we can do that. And we, we have to hone in on a particular type of crop. And the market was, I mean, everyone was, I think it was a, yeah. I forget what, what the crop was, but they started to focus on, on citrus, which is only 10% of the markets, but they nailed it and they became dominant there, and that's where the whole thing started to escalate.
And they started to grow outside of South Africa and so on. But it's, it's a good example. Again, they could do all of those type of crops, but they focused on making it really, really special for, for one type. And that's where, yeah, that was noticed. I mean, talking also about this, uh, this horizontal product that, that we had at unit four, it was technically a product that if you run a company you need, you need to do your finance, you could work with it.
But then, yeah, then there are a thousand options, right? So for us it was, okay, how much, how many deals do we really need to make a fantastic year? It was about a hundred mid-market, large type, uh, with a particular average, deal size. And then we find the best hundred. That's it. And what ha and what are the characteristics of those companies.
And, and, and next year we have a new module or we have a new product. Yeah. Which we, we adjust it again. Yeah.
[00:36:05] Corey: That's awesome. Yeah. Last question for you Ton What, what's your motivation?
[00:36:10] Ton: My motivation? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, my mission at the end is to help, uh, as many as possible B2B sales companies stand out in their marketplace.
That's why I wrote my book. That's why I write a daily email. and that's what I, offer my services. But, uh, it's not all, I'm not all about editing. You can see that on my website. There's a lot of free resources there because I believe if, if there's more products out there that become remarkable, first of all, we all have a better, um, we have more joy.
Yeah. More joy in our work. Yeah. Because we get to use those products. Yeah. And, and everybody, everybody wins with that. Because I've been in, I mean, talking about financial software and payroll software, my God, Dell software, there's nothing, there's nothing sexy about that. But I mean, I have seen companies like Gusto, for example.
I talk about them in the book as well. You know, they make payroll sexy. Yeah. At least when I, when I wrote about them in my book, I haven't looked at 'em in, in a while again, but yeah, no,
[00:37:04] Corey: I, I use them actually, I just got an email. I got paid today, so
[00:37:09] Ton: Exactly. And it's like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. They make it fun.
It, make it fun. Yeah. So, and that's remarkable. Yeah. People talk about it.
[00:37:18] Corey: Don, where, where could people find out more about you? Where could they find your book? what's a good way for people to get in touch with you?
[00:37:25] Ton: Go to my website, valueinspiration.com
And otherwise you just search my name on, uh, on LinkedIn. Ton Dobbe. Um, there, it's, that's pro pronunciation. And I am always on, on LinkedIn every single day cause I, I post every day there and, uh, yeah, happy to start conversations there. Beautiful.
[00:37:44] Corey: That is awesome. You do such important work for SaaS businesses and I've really enjoyed this conversation.
I know the listeners have gotten a ton of value, so thank you so much for coming on
[00:37:55] Ton: today. It was a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.