Snafu, a newsletter about selling

Snafu: when you don't focus on a single customer

Published about 1 month ago • 4 min read

Welcome to the 469 new readers who’ve joined Snafu this week!

Here are some lessons about organizational burnout and the consequences of not focusing on a single ideal client or offering.

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Why you should focus on a single customer

You've probably heard that you should focus on a specific type of customer or prospect.

I’ve always found this to be a struggle because I don't want to work with just one type of client! I like a lot of people and want my business to serve a variety, as well.

Today’s article is about organizational burnout and the consequences of not serving a single client.

The consequences of high growth

My creative agency, Zander Media, took off in 2020. With a lot of companies in need of video production, we grew from one full-time employee to ten in less than two years.

Being an enthusiastic salesman, I said “yes” to every piece of inbound work. Zander Media produced scripted commercials, testimonials, animated videos, entirely new brands, and even a documentary.

Building the plane while flying it

As a ten person company delivering a wide variety of services, we tried to be everything for everybody. As a consequence, the team and I were perpetually stressed.

We were building the plane while flying it.

The benefits of a singular focus

What would have happened if we had only provided a single service?

I’d have had to turn down a lot of work. But the team would also have had time to learn the specifics of the tasks required.

We’d have gotten better at doing the specific things required for that kind of deliverable.

Burning out my team

At Zander Media, we had enough sales to keep the business going. We had an abundance of skilled employees. But we didn’t have enough time to learn how to do each job from scratch, which then led to an unsustainable working environment.

Trying to adapt to the needs of each new project took a toll and we lost several valuable employees.

Dissatisfied customers

There are a lot of unknowns when you try something for the first time.

It takes a lot more work to deliver a novel offering. Things are likely to go wrong and there’s a high likelihood of poor communication.

We were fortunate at Zander Media that many of our clients from that stressful era continue to work with us today. But I worked consecutive 80 hour weeks for two years to make it happen.

Without a specific focus, you are much more likely to lose repeat business, or lose your business entirely.

An efficient way to think of business

Think about your business as a manufacturing plant that produces a very specific type of widget.

While you probably don’t want to work on an assembly line, it’s a useful metaphor.

What's the one thing that you or your business want to do exceptionally well? Focus there.


Who do you serve? Describe a single, unique customer. (It is okay if that ideal client changes in the future.)

Think of a single person in your life – someone you actually know – and write a few details about that person.

Their demographics:

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for work?

Their psycho-graphics:

  • What are their wants and needs?
  • What are their hopes and dreams?
  • What are their challenges?

Practice getting very specific about the person you are selling to. Doing so will help you sell more sustainably.

3 Things I’ve Loved This Week

Quote I’m considering: Writing is at its best — always, always, always — when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer. -On Writing by Stephen King

I love this approach to writing, and to creativity more generally. On Writing is also one of the best books I’ve read about the creative process.

Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection by Charles Duhigg

Pulling stories from FBI interrogators, therapists, and the NRA, Charles offers tactics that all of us can apply today to improve how we communicate and relate to each other.

His previous book The Power of Habit was my first introduction to the idea of habits and behavior change. I was pleasantly surprised that Supercommunicators also contains a lot of very applicable tactics.

I’ll be interviewing Charles for the podcast in May, so stay tuned!

Sports Tool I Use Every Day: Pro Grade Liquid Chalk

I’ve tried all sorts of chalk and similar tools to improve my grip and not tear callouses. This liquid chalk is what I now use every day at the gym for weight lifting and gymnastics.

Pro tip: you only need the smallest dab to thoroughly cover both hands. I buy a new bottle every 2 years.

Support Snafu

This newsletter is free and I don’t run ads, but I do spend dozens of hours researching and writing about selling each week. Here’s how you can support Snafu.

30-day sales course - The course is coming out in May! Each day for a month, you'll receive an email with a short video, an article, and homework. The course also comes with a money-back guarantee. Join the waitlist here!

​Attend Responsive Conference - We are hosting an immersive 2-day conference this September in Oakland, CA. This is my one big event of the year and I'd love to see you there!

Books by Robin - I've published two books - so far! If you’re interested in learning to do a handstand, check out How to Do a Handstand. If you’re building a company or want to improve your company’s culture, read Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

Thanks for your consideration!

Until next week,

Thanks for reading!

I appreciate you being here. Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback? Just reply and let me know.

This newsletter is copyrighted by Responsive LLC. Commissions may be earned from the links above.

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Snafu, a newsletter about selling

by Robin P. Zander

Learn how to sell without being salesy. For anyone who has something to offer but is a bit hesitant about asking people to buy.

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