Book Review: From Impossible to Inevitable

Erik Ralston
Jun 19 · 3 min read

A definitive sales & marketing guide, written by Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross, describing how “Hyper-Growth” companies are built. Its seven-part summary of strategies leverages not only the writer’s success but case studies from the likes of Salesforce and Zenefits.

Most books I read I get from recommendations, but this one had a unique endorsement from a unique source, this real quote from LiveTiles:

Jason Lemkin is like my own personal Jesus — Karl Redenbach, CEO of LiveTiles

With such an endorsement from Karl, I ordered it out of pure curiosity. In their seven focus areas, the authors reveal key insights that light the way for any startup trying to scale to 100+ million in revenue.

In my four years at LiveTiles — growing from zero to 30 million in revenue — we have constantly evolved our sales and marketing strategy. We have tried all three major approaches Lemkin & Ross describe in their book:

  • Seeds — Network and Worth-of-Mouth selling, telling a story person-to-person; the kind of selling that’s done from the start of the business
  • Nets — Inbound marketing such as our year of building blog content and pushing it out across PPC, SEO and social
  • Spears — Outbound sales like we do now with our N3 partnership taking prospects and repeatably turning them into potential customers

Of all the strategies tried, the most challenging would have been trying to pick the right “Nets”. We tried blog-based content marketing — pushing out multiple articles a day across a team of writers — and while it had an effect, in the arena of high-touch enterprise sales, it didn’t move the needle. More recently we’ve done inbound marketing around events, webinars, and guides which have driven a more reliable ROI.

In presenting their overall architecture for growing SaaS revenue, Lemkin & Ross describe very simple math to consider:

(Number of Opportunities) X (Conversion Rate to Deals) X (Size of Deals)

Of the factors in the equation, a lot of folks focus on expanding pipeline when the easier lever is increasing deal size. At LiveTiles we’ve consistently increased deal-size year-over-year by not only justifiably raising prices but shifting from telling a tool (Drag & Drop Page Design for SharePoint) toward an enterprise solution (Intelligent Workplace!).

To summarize one last section, “Do The Time” covers the expectations of sustaining a hockey-stick growth curve for seven years straight. In the writer’s experience, this is from inception to exit for the average company. In the book they list their expectation thusly:

  • Y1 Revenue: $1 Million
  • Y2 Revenue: $3 Million
  • Y3 Revenue: $6 Million
  • Y4 Revenue: $12 Million
  • Y5 Revenue: $24 Million
  • Y6 Revenue: $48 Million
  • Y7 Revenue: $80 Million

This projection was remarkable in that LiveTiles has been officially launched for 4 years yet is almost to year 6 in revenue expectation. I believe this enhanced rate is due to two unique innovations not considered in the book:

  • Born Global — From day one we’ve been selling on four continents and building an international organic growth strategy.
  • Acquisitions — From year three onward, we’ve acquired companies that have added their revenue to ours inorganically.

If Jason Lemkin is Jesus, maybe Karl will make Moses one day? We barely have time to write down our own strategies, let alone compile them in the same way Lemkin & Ross did so well in From Impossible to Inevitable. A must-read for any aspiring CEO, VP of Sales or Marketing, or anyone wondering how to transform their startup into a hyper-growth company.

Erik Ralston is Chief Architect at LiveTiles where he leads the software team building the world’s only Intelligent Experience Platform (IXP), powering pages and bots across the enterprise. Erik is also co-founder of Fuse Coworking & Accelerator in Tri-Cities, WA where he works on connecting people and sharing knowledge to turn new ideas into growing startups. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or the next Fuse event.

Erik Ralston

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Co-Founder at @FuseSPC Community & Accelerator in Tri-Cities, WA | Chief Architect at @LiveTilesUI