#4 episode of Helping B2B High Ticket Service Providers Grow – One Lesson at a Time, with the business coach and CEO of ZPI Holdings – Tim Kubiak.
Tim wanted to step down from the enormous, dynamic and uncontrollable corporate world.
And that’s what he did!
Working with SMEs brought him the freedom and focus he always strived for.
The two things he is most passionate about? Sales and go-to market strategies.
STAY TUNED for more incredible lessons, stories and growth tips, straight from the most successful entrepreneurs!
#3 episode of Helping B2B High Ticket Service Providers Grow, with the Founder of the podcast “Talking with the Experts” – Rose Davidson.
[00:00:07.240] – Dancho – Hello, everybody. Welcome again. By now you should probably know me, otherwise, what are you doing here? But anyway, welcome to another episode of helping B2B High Ticket Service Providers Grow – One Lesson at a Time. And by now, as you know, every episode we actually invite the best from the best, of course. So today I have Tim Kubiak, and he’s here to tell you a very interesting lesson. I’m not telling any more about it. We’ll get there. So, Tim, welcome to the show.
[00:00:38.880] – Tim – Thanks so much for having me. It’s good to talk to you again.
[00:00:41.680] – Dancho – Well, I imagine that since you’re on the other part of the world, it’s quite morning for you. I was like, you’ll be either in pyjamas or something like, wow, at 8, 9 a.m., probably you need to talk about, I mean, lessons. I mean, come on.
[00:00:56.940] – Tim – I’ve got coffee. We are all good.
[00:01:00.220] – Dancho – There you go. Actually, I should have brought some coffee, but after this. So, Tim, thank you very much for coming on this episode. I was so excited when you confirmed, because we have some history behind. I also came on your podcast. What was it three, four months ago, I think? Wow, time flies.
[00:01:18.700] – Tim – Time flies.
[00:01:19.910] – Dancho – I know you pretty good because when I actually asked to participate in your podcast, I had to research you, man. That’s part of the due diligence. But for everybody that don’t know, I mean, we should probably kick off the interview with the origin story and who you are actually, if you can present yourself.
[00:01:36.540] – Tim – Sure, the humorous version of who I am is I’m the only short fat guy in yoga and I’m an aging rock and roll metalhead. Professionally speaking, I came up through the technology business, started a small company in the States. They got acquired early in my career, I have helped global roles. I’ve run three quarter of a billion dollar organizations with hundreds of employees and, you know, all along, everything from infrastructure of telecommunications all the way through high end cyber security. And about two years ago, I decided I had enough of corporate life. So I started working with small clients and tech founders and helping them build their businesses and their sales organizations. And that’s the foundation of what I do today. I work with innovators and people that are trying to bring things to market.
[00:02:27.030] – Dancho – Nice. What pushed you to get away from the corporate world? I mean, I have some personal experience and first, money are different, that’s for sure. But for you, what was the balancing curve that said, you know what? I’m tired of this corporate bureaucracy and just switch to the SMEs?
[00:02:45.280] – Tim – So it really was a couple things. First of all, it was quality of life. And it’s going to be strange from an entrepreneur saying I could never step away from the business. But the truth is, in corporate life, there’s so many things you can’t control. And your political fortunes are one of those. So if your sponsor leaves or gets ousted or something changes in your structure, your whole job role and everything changes. And I’d lived through several acquisitions of the companies I worked for being required. I did some work on people who are doing the acquisition, so I know both sides of the fence. And I had worked for private equity companies, and I got tired of people who didn’t understand the market, making decisions solely on the bottom line. The other part of it is as you go up higher in organizations, and I spent my entire life wanting to be a corporate executive and working in sacrificing
[00:03:42.260] – Dancho – Climbing the ladder.
[00:03:43.300] – Tim – Yeah. And what you find out is I lost touch with customers, I lost touch with products, I spent all my time in internal meetings arguing about stuff that ultimately was just, forgive the phrase, territorial pissing right over. This is mine, not yours, instead of actually taking care of people.
[00:04:04.850] – Dancho – And the corporate games involved that you’re like, man, can we just focus on helping people or growing stuff rather than all the games and politics and within the companies?
[00:04:16.990] – Tim – That’s exactly right. I joke now nobody can reorder me overnight unless I do it for myself. I was in Poland on a vacation for two weeks, and I had literally closed out staff calls on a Friday, and I got to Poland on a Sunday morning, was there on a vacation and literally by Monday afternoon, European time, I needed to get on a call about a reorg that somebody decided they had to do over the weekend. So I’m literally in Warsaw in the bathroom for me.
[00:04:51.360] – Dancho – If you want to make a change, you need to ask your boss. They need to ask their bus, and they need to ask their boss. And then after six months, they I’ll get it to you. And then already the environment has changed. But it’s interesting to talk with you Tim, because you have the corporate background and a corporate experience. And now you’re trying to apply it to the small people. Okay, that’s a bad saying. But to the smaller businesses could not really either they don’t have the corporate experience, nor they can actually afford the consultants that are from the corporate Big Five consulting company that are quite expensive, if you ask me. And that is actually a nice angle that you’re holding. And I’m sure that I mean, within all these years, you acquired a lot of expertise, like whether it’s in the merging acquisition or whether it’s into the tech aspect of the companies. And I mean, if you have to choose one because I’m sure you have plenty, what would be the one area that you feel that you’re most expert in?
[00:05:49.000] – Tim – Sales and go to market strategy. That’s my true passion. Everything else I can do stems from that. But it’s helping companies figure out who their customers are, what those customers buying cycles are, and frankly, maybe where they’re not getting the greatest return on their investment in their sales force.
[00:06:08.580] – Dancho – Nice, nice. Well, then you should really work more with SMEs because I’m also a small business. We create products and solutions and services and we see a market opportunity, immediately a new offer, a new product. While in the corporate world, things are quite slow and what we have to take concern about this and have into consideration that. So yeah, actually, in that case, you made the right choice Tim. I mean, switching to helping the SME world. Also, sales and go-to market strategy is quite challenging because you are working in 21st century. I mean, in 1950s, I’m sure it was really easy. You figure out the product and that’s it. But now everything is turbulent. I mean, things change. We have the Covid at place, now, by the way, in Macedonia started escalating, so probably we’re going to go on lockdown again in a week or earlier.
[00:07:02.440] – Tim – Wow.
[00:07:03.120] – Dancho – So trying to innovate to create these new products and also the environment is getting hotter and everything is mad at this stage, and I find it’s really challenging to still be able to create and we do it as well. But I wanted to see what is your approach here?
[00:07:22.880] – Tim – So my approach is get your foundations done, whether you call it a minimum viable product or whether it’s an evolution on an existing product or service and get it out in the market and find out what people like and what they don’t like and what they really want. And you talk about the SMEs, one of the things I run into is that people keep chasing an idea without validating its market acceptability, right? Or they talk to their five friends and the friends tell them it’s great. It’s like asking your grandmother, go talk to somebody who doesn’t love you and get a real opinion.
[00:08:02.240] – Dancho – Yeah. There was a saying, I’ve read it somewhere. Validation on your business idea is only by the people who swipe their credit cards. Nobody else. If they swipe their credit card, they vote by that just saying that is a good idea, I’m willing to put my money on it rather than huh, that’s a really nice idea. You should pursue it or no, it’s not going to work.
[00:08:23.000] – Tim – Yeah, that’s exactly right.
[00:08:25.390] – Dancho – Well, when it comes to the MVP, I mean, I’m sure that a lot of entrepreneurs and I even had that problems at the beginning. We want things to be perfect when we get it out on the market. I mean, it’s my name on it, and I wanted to make it like, top of the line. So how are you actually figuring how to, because from the one end, you have the product that you consider to go to the market, but you also need to work with an entrepreneur or with a business owner who is actually working on the mindset a lot.
[00:08:58.220] – Tim – So part of that is having the conversation about where, where the product is supposed to fit. And now use Google as an example. Google was not supposed to be what we all know them for. That was an evolution of their business. Taking the metadata and turning and becoming a search company with driven by advertising revenues, it’s not what they started out to be. And if you look, most big companies actually aren’t what they started as. They’ve grown into what they’ve become. And so one thing I watch when I work with founders is they’re so sat on this is what I’m going to do. And this is how I’m going to do it. And the reality is there might be a dozen adjacent opportunities that you can pivot just a little bit, change the conversation, work on the messaging, and you have a whole new customer spectrum. And by the way, those might be the ones that really make you take off.
[00:09:59.950] – Dancho – Yeah, yeah. No, I completely agree. As an entrepreneur, you really need the flexibility. But Tim, how did you actually became an expert into the sales and go-to market strategy? I mean, is it something that you can learn or you inherited like a supernatural skill?
[00:10:20.520] – Tim – No. It’s a learned skill. And some people have a natural affinity for things, sure. I wanted to be a musician, right. As a child and as a teenager. And I learned music to a pretty high level. But I was never a world class. I never had the talent for that. Business, I don’t know that I had any innate talent, but as you do it, you learn it. And there’s the old phrase fail fast, fail forward. And what I did is I just put myself in situations and just take on more and more and more and get a broader range of experience. And 30 years later, you understand it. The other thing is I’ve watched all the things along my career and my corporate career and what small vendors and small technologies come in. And I’ve watched them fail or not be successful in selling and disappear. And you look and go, why didn’t they create the market demand and all of the things that went with that. Sometimes it was the solution itself. A lot of times it was the sales and marketing execution.
[00:11:23.150] – Dancho – Nice. So you had, like, a third-party view of what was going on and what were the mistakes that were made actually in their businesses, right?
[00:11:33.670] – Tim – Yeah. Absolutely. They come in, they do a presentation, right. It’s like a marketing message that misses. Everybody would sit, shake their heads, eat their free lunch and leave and not doing anything.
[00:11:45.150] – Dancho – Nice. Yeah. But I was also wondering, sales and marketing is like creativity, but processes and systems on how to get stuff out there. But on the other hand, the other part of the brain, the tech part. And you I know that you’re also a strong tech person. So how do you balance those two? Because, you know, you have a creative guy or you have a geeky guy, like in front of a computer and stuff. And those are really two different characters even.
[00:12:14.520] – Tim – They are. And part of it is getting the geek and the creative to talk, right?
[00:12:21.780] – Dancho – Nice. So don’t get, what if they get into an argument?
[00:12:26.020] – Tim – That happens a lot. And sometimes that could be productive, actually, right? And I’ll give you a great example. For a long time, there was a marketing department that I worked with. Their measurement of success was how many people showed up to an event or how many people opened an email. The sales and the technical group were based on how many people chose to buy that technology and how they engaged. The goals were completely misaligned. Hey, I can get you to come to my show or come to my booth or read my email, but if I don’t get you to take that next action, it’s really not successful for the company. So getting them to talk and align those goals is a big thing. The other thing is being open to outside perspectives. One of the things that I watch companies do, you talking about aligning them is I watch them talk in their own nomenclature. They don’t use the words their customers use. You go out, you go to sell and you’re using words, it sounds fantastic and represent, but what you do and your customer is hearing them either differently or not truly understanding what they do because you’re not talking about them.
[00:13:36.600] – Dancho – Yeah. I think it was called tech bubble or something like there was a saying like that and you need to actually translate for people to understand it because I use that a lot. Now with the book that is 30 days since publishing. The editor from UK got back with 8000 edits and like, I don’t understand this acronym, I don’t understand what is this, I don’t understand that, and I’m like, okay, even the better reader said that. Okay. Try to make it more human, try to make it more understandable. And yeah, I cut myself in that area that sometimes you just talk with like MVP and throwing keywords, and people are assuming that they will understand.
[00:14:20.140] – Tim – Yeah.
[00:14:21.090] – Dancho – Okay. But that’s really a good point Tim. And I was curious as you’re working with a lot of tech companies within the SME, you specialize with more tech companies with artificial intelligence and companies that can create MVP. And your goal is to get as early as possible feedback. And this really reminds me of the Agile project management style. I mean, a lot of software companies are preaching don’t go with the waterfall already, let’s transit to the agile. And what are the benefits? I mean, I know there could be a lot, but how do you see it actually?
[00:15:00.680] – Tim – So two initial benefits are time to positive cash flow can accelerate by getting the market and getting paying customers. The other thing that it can do is it can change your development cycles. So instead of developing, developing, developing, you can do a to your point, agile, or you can do a feature release schedule that might be completely different than you would have come back with without real customer feedback, or you might be able to do you talk about an evolution, you might be able to do patches and minor additions that existing customers will love, but will drive additional new customers into your portfolio sooner because you’ve got that feedback.
[00:15:48.570] – Dancho – Yeah. And I think that feedback is what keeps company, because based on that feedback, you can innovate. You can create new products or you can tweak your existing. But honestly, I don’t know other way because you create a product and start serving clients, and then all of them are saying, I wish there was this as well. So there you go. You have an upsell. Well, for additional money, we can do that as well at the end of the day. So it’s really just listening to them and try to please them. Give them what they want.
[00:16:22.500] – Tim – Understanding where your shortcomings are, too, right. That’s part of selling is understanding where your weaknesses are against your competition, against market perception.
[00:16:32.480] – Dancho – Yeah. Exactly. I’m thinking we have done feature comparison metrics like, well, if all the competitors have it, but you don’t have it, man, I mean, customer will be expecting it’s like, everybody have it, so you should have it as well. And the was when nobody has it, only you have it, then it’s like, well, you need to do a lot of marketing on that feature because you know that nobody has it actually.
[00:16:56.930] – Tim – Yeah. Telecom companies are a great example of people who the old school PBX manufacturers that made the big systems that run huge companies and universities and health care systems. They would add features that nobody would really use. So I have 100 features, and you only have a thousand. Meanwhile, everybody only uses twelve.
[00:17:20.800] – Dancho – Wow, that’s feature stacking. Put a lot of stuff, but like, I needed only one. No worries. There are 1000 more additional features just for you.
[00:17:30.900] – Tim – Yeah, that’s right. Just in case.
[00:17:33.290] – Dancho – Wow. Wow. Nice, Tim. I actually enjoyed this conversation, and I’m thinking because I ask every guest that we have here is like about the one single lesson. And we usually even put some emphasizes, like, what do you want to be remembered for? The one thing that is, of course, related to your expertise, not about the yoga, don’t get me wrong. But in that regard, I mean, what’s that one thing that you’re a stronger believer and advocate around?
[00:18:04.170] – Tim – So I believe that for most businesses and space I work in, you have to understand what your most important customer opportunities are and where you fit in that. And we’ve used the term unicorn, and you hear it all the time. It’s not about chasing that unicorn. That perfect thing being that company. It’s about understanding what are the top three to five sales opportunities. Could be individual clients, could be customer market sets, but that are going to drive your business to next level.
[00:18:38.520] – Dancho – I see. So your goal is not to chase the unicorn in terms of something that does not exist or something that is too hard to achieve. Maybe they’re unicorns, I’m not sure.
[00:18:50.150] – Tim – They’re both, right? Yeah. One of the things I often do when I come in business to business companies is I sit down and look and say, show me your top five opportunities or show me your top three opportunities if say, you have a Salesforce for 30 people. Show me your top three people’s top three opportunities. And let’s figure out how to go windows. Don’t worry about everything else.
[00:19:11.120] – Dancho – Nice, nice. Actually, you’re also talking about focus.
[00:19:16.180] – Tim – Yes!
[00:19:17.400] – Dancho – It’s not like try to get 50, okay, you’re talking opportunities, we are calling market segments or verticals, but at the end of the day, you can spread yourself so much thin. And also, when you have focus, you know who you’re talking to. You can adjust your marketing effort in order to target that particular group. And of course, you don’t want to target just random three verticals or opportunities. You’re trying to see the top three or top five you set that have the biggest revenue potential, to put it that way.
[00:19:50.260] – Tim – Yeah. The strategic to you in your business, right. Whether it’s revenue potential or whether it’s an essential win to penetrate a new market or a new customer type.
[00:20:02.140] – Dancho – I see. But that’s really good, Tim. It made me think now, you opened my headaches. I need to think about this and how I can actually apply this in BizzBee because at the end of the day, with the focus, last year, before last year, a confession, we were generalist as a business consultant, we were doing market research, business planning, product sourcing and everything. Last year we said, you know what? We cannot even keep the resources to serve all those different types of services. So we said, okay, we specialize in B2B lead generation. Let’s take everything out from our website. Let’s became experts in B2B lead generation. And let’s even focus on high ticket service providers, even in particular, consultants, marketing agencies and software companies, and then surround ourselves with them. I mean, start looking for their feedback, what kind of needs they have, what kind of needs they don’t have. And your spot on based on that feedback, we’ve realized that with the lead generation, they were like, well, we need some visibility and voila. We’ve created content creation services. So we’re saying, well, with our lead generation, we can also create content now. And it’s not like I locked myself in a laboratory and started scratching, figuring mad science. But it was like just talking with people and like when eight out of ten people say, you know what? This outreach and lead generation is perfect. But how should they start seeing me more often? And we were like, well, eight out of ten, that is actually a strong need. Let’s see how we can actually satisfy that need. And that’s how we actually created the content creation services.
[00:21:37.680] – Tim – Right. That’s being an entrepreneur at its heart. Hey, wait. There’s a customer. There’s eight out of ten customers. How do I do that for them?
[00:21:46.220] – Dancho – Yeah. Yeah. That’s an opportunity. Well, that sounds interesting. I actually should think a bit more about that and how we can utilize it in BizzBee. But maybe that’s the curse of the small businesses, we always have limited resources. So you cannot launch ten different products. But maybe that’s even a blessing in disguise because you need to prioritize. So if you cannot chase ten different products or services, you need to focus on one, on two. And there you go. You need to prioritize, which are the best ones.
[00:22:16.600] – Tim – Exactly. That’s exactly right.
[00:22:19.220] – Dancho – Nice. I haven’t considered it like that Tim. And I was also curious. I mean, you are also a consultant, a coach, a mentor. What are the future plans with you?
[00:22:29.820] – Tim – So I’ve taken on more contract executive work than I ever plan to. And I’m having a good time, you know, being the sales leader for a couple of early stage companies and being a contracted CEO for a five year old company. My personal coaching business is taking a turn I didn’t expect. And that is I really expected all of my clientele to come from those SME business owners. And what I’m finding is my coaching business and my mentoring business is much more high performing individuals inside of larger corporations. So the company may be sponsoring them, or they may not. But that’s the one thing that surprised me. And I think you’ll see me move to some more group coaching. And the other thing I’m seeing is there’s a lot of CEO mentoring out there, but there’s still some niches that aren’t well served because being a CEO or a founder in a tech company is different than being a CEO in a different industry. So I think you’ll see me early next year, launch a CEO program.
[00:23:36.260] – Dancho – Wow nice. So you’re moving from one to one, to one too many the group coaching aspect.
[00:23:43.200] – Tim – Yeah. We have started trialling it back in February, and it’s worked really, really well. And we’ve seen clients get better results.
[00:23:50.680] – Dancho – But Tim that’s exactly, you’re doing what you’re preaching. You’re getting the feedback. You had a plan, I’m gonna target the SMEs, and then you start it, and then you’re actually getting the feedback. And, like, wait a minute. These are not SMEs that I’m talking to. So actually, based on the feedback from the customer, you’re saying, well, this is actually evolving into something else.
[00:24:10.200] – Tim – And I put my prices. That’s the beauty the whole way through as we went up market said, we used to charge this for now we’ll charge that and the prices are going up. And frankly, it’s almost like a validation that you’re decent, right? Or good at what you do because people are like, oh, that’s okay. The other thing is by understanding the different client segment, my sales cycles changed. It’s actually shortened. As I went upstream, the amount of money I’m asking for may be greater, but as a percentage of their own money or their discretionary budget or what have you, it’s actually much less. And so this made it easier to close this.
[00:24:48.160] – Dancho – Yeah. Money is always relative, depending who are you talking to. For someone, $50 is a lot, for someone 5 million is just something that they can afford it. So it is really relative. But since you are switching your target audience, you know that they can actually afford it.
[00:25:03.720] – Tim – Yeah. A great example is we had a client that invested a little over $100,000 with us for a couple of things, but they’re close to $15 million in incremental revenue.
[00:25:15.280] – Dancho – Wow. That’s ROI. Tim, when you build that group coaching, hit me up. I would love to beta test it to see.
[00:25:25.860] – Tim – Yeah, absolutely.
[00:25:27.000] – Dancho – To see how it is. And of course, for everybody that are actually listening to the podcast, I mean, if you’re interested in what was it from? 100,000 to 15 million, that’s like a good return of investment. It’s like 50K or 500K, I cannot do the calculations in my head. But on that topic, Tim, where can people find you? I mean, if I want to get in touch with you, where should I look for you?
[00:25:51.540] – Tim – Sure. So you can find me at my own website and fill out the contact need form. And I’m happy to have a conversation with anybody. It’s just timkubiak.com. You can also find me on LinkedIn. I’m usually, my avatar is me in a purple bow tie in these glasses so you can’t miss me. There are 16 other Tim Kubiak’s in the United States, but if you take a look, I’m the only one in a bow tie.
[00:26:16.900] – Dancho – Wow, you should put Tim Kubiak in brackets – the only one. So when you’re talking which one is like the one and only.
[00:26:26.600] – Tim – And there are two others that are executives in different segments, one in transportation and one in finance. So sometimes it is funny when people call me and try and sell me stuff.
[00:26:37.090] – Dancho – Well, I hope people don’t come and say, take my money, I want to be your client. Oh, but I thought the wrong Tim.
[00:26:45.270] – Tim – Yeah. Fortunately, we’re different enough businesses that once you start talking, it becomes clear quick.
[00:26:50.440] – Dancho – Yeah, I see. Well, Tim, I wanted to thank you very much. I’m actually taking notes as we discussed, so I really wanted to sum up what I’ve learned. I mean, personally, I’m looking at, yeah, as an SME building the MVP and get it out on the market is really the key thing here, because the faster you get it out, the benefits is actually the faster you get the positive cash flow and you’re changing the development cycle based on the feedback and that I think the two key things here. One is the really good feedback, the feedback that you get as early as possible. And the other one was the focus because the moment you get customer opportunities and top three to five rather than chasing the unicorn, you actually have not focused just on services, but focus on your time, focus on your resources, focus on everything, and then you can better serve your clients. And as you said, even reducing the cell cycle even tailoring the solution to that particular segment gives some extra values when you’re compared against your competitors, you’re like, well, I actually specialize in your industry, so I’m really special to that. So actually, that was my key takeaway because I take notes. So I really appreciate it coming on this episode. Thank you very much. And that would be actually all.
[00:28:12.740] – Tim – Thank you for having me. I’ve had a great time talking with you.
[00:28:15.920] – Dancho – Yeah, it was a pleasure, Tim. Have a great day.
[00:28:18.920] – Tim – You too.
Danco is a serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of a 3-year-old and a burger enthusiast. He is inspired by growth and goes above and beyond to make it possible – whether it comes to his 300+ clients or his people. Eager to learn more? Follow Danco on LinkedIn and Facebook.