Interview with Anthony Coundouris

We intervied Anthony Coundouris about his new book run_frictionless and about the Sales System. Here’s what he said to us in the interview!



Friction is any obstacle which slows the customer reaching their goal, and equally slows the sale from occurring. 


What does frictionless mean for a business?

To answer this question let’s let’s examine friction.

Today, we know a lot about friction.

For example, friction has a quotient. It can be calculated.

Friction accumulates. Customers remember the friction they experience from one interaction to the next. 

If friction is high, customers drop off. They abandon their goal.

By reducing friction, a buying decision becomes effortless for the customer. It feels like a natural, wonderful experience, where every detail has been considered


Can a founder of a startup ever be free from a sales role?

Yes. The mistake founders and high performing salespeople make is trying to replace themselves with another human.

We naturally try to solve the problem with recruitment. The problem is, there isn’t another human like you looking for a job. Those who are like you are busy doing their own startup, not working for you.

For the salespeople they feel like the product is flying of the shelf. People just want this.


So the System becomes the heart of the startup. What are the benefits of relying on a system?

Sales systems bring a host of benefits other than scaling out a founder or sales team.

If you try to acquire a customer without a sales system, you won’t learn much. If you don’t close the sale, you won’t understand why, and if you close the sale you may also never know why.

Either way, it’s a dumb sale. You learned neither why they bought or didn’t buy. Had you a sales system, you could improve and make the next sale you win or lose, predictable.

Sell when the salesforce are not at their desk

Automation moves the customers through the sales system even when the salesforce or founder is not at their desk. A sales system does the heavy lifting and repetitive tasks.

Rather than writing hundreds of bespoke email, scripted email templates can be used, requiring only small changes to customize them to the needs of each customer. Document collection, once handled manually, is taken care of by online forms which deliver the files in one single package. Repetitive operations like these once performed by the salesforce are replaced by the sales system, freeing the salesforce to concentrate on high-value tasks.


What is the difference between playbooks and a Sales System?

One definition of a sales playbook is a playbook sets objectives, identifies metrics, and provides a common framework for selling.

A system is this and a bit more. A system involves intelligence gathering, a decision-making framework and creation of words and pictures.

It may also specify the applications which serve words and pictures.

For the framework I recommend the 4Qs.


In your book, you say “If you try to acquire a customer without a sales system you won’t learn much. What do you mean by that?

I once heard a strategic advisor from proctor and gamble tell me “don’t do anything which cannot be measured”

Think of the sales system as a blueprint, a plan. If everyone is selling using the same blue print it is easy to go back later and pinpoint where you lost a customer. These are friction points.

Once you find the friction point, you can make an upgrade. If you had no sales system, every person is selling using their own method, so tracking friction is case by case.

Any improvements you make cannot be enjoyed by the entire sales organization because everyone is doing it differently.


What is the 4Q’s ?

4Qs is a decision-making framework. It is designed to free a founder from a sales role.

The 4Qs provides four, distinct quadrants, or windows into an organization. The power of the 4Qs rests in its ability to connect people and processes to the customer.

The idea is it helps founders and high performing salespeople scale out of the business, one quadrant at a time.


How important is it for a startup to clearly define the customers it wants to service? 

A common phrase I hear technical founders tell me is “anyone can buy the product.” Have you ever met a person called ‘anyone’? There is Sally. And unless you can convince Sally to buy your product, Sally won’t buy.

Sally will not buy the product because ‘anyone’ can buy it. The two are not the same.


I really liked that you say that “servicing a customer profile that will never reach customer success is foolish”. Do founders relate to that, especially in the beginning?

At first, no. However, when it comes time to pay sales commissions, they listen.

I’ll tell a story about an organization I worked with late last year. I built them a sales system for them.


“Profit should be a bi-product, not a belief.” Really interesting. Why are shared beliefs important for a startup to scale faster?

In my opinion, the first thing a startup should do is strike a Q1-3 fit. This has nothing to do with Quadrant 2 – product.

When working with a startup, how easy, or hard, is it to implement changes in the current situation that the startup is?

I think it is about timing.

One serial entrepreneur who is considering rolling out the 4Qs said to me that in his portfolio, the startups who have taken funding.

I’ve rolled out the 4Qs to organizations as small as two and as large as a 130 people.

I tell founders, start as soon as you are able. It takes only a few hours to teach the 4Qs and a few weeks to roll it out to a business. As soon as the 4Qs are in place it is much easier to scale.

Those reaching out to me from startups are not always the founder. The founder has a lot on their plate, especially if they have taken series A funding.

Quite often it is the sales director or chief operations officer who contacts me.


Tom’s biggest mistake was having no sequence of how to create a customer. He made up the experience as he went along.” This phrase really resonated with me because in every training I do for a company I really emphasize that having proper automation and ready-made processes for the interaction with the clients make the whole business run…frictionless. How hard is it for a business to have a well-designed customer flow?

Q4 is my favorite quadrant. Quadrant 4 is the founder’s dream. What makes the fourth quadrant exciting to design is beginning with a blank canvas.

What does it feel like to become a customer of your startup? Is it colorful, delightful, or is it bloody painful? What’s going to make the experience memorable for the customer and how will their experience with your startup be different from others?

Unlike Quadrants 1, 2 and 3, Quadrant 4 is free of limits. Quadrant 1 limits you to serve a select customer profile. Quadrant 2 limits you to the boundaries of the product. Quadrant 3 limits the number of customers who share our beliefs.

Not Quadrant 4. Quadrant 4 is limitless. It demands you put your creativity to use. You can create an experience you would like to have and the one you want your customer to have.


How can a company start removing friction from its processes and where can they find you?

Sure, reading the book is not a bad idea. That way they can wrap their heads around the 4Qs. They can visit and follow the links to amazon.

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