How Accord Went from 0 → 100+ Customers: 5 Lessons Learned

To most companies, 100 is a small number.

However, as an early stage startup focused on going from 0 - 1, then somehow reaching 10… 100 can seem like a pretty intimidating number! Especially when it comes to real paying customers.

So, with all the challenges that come with this rollercoaster ride, I felt like taking a moment to thank the heroes of this journey so far was in order – our customers <3  

Today we’re celebrating breaking the +100 customer mark! 🥳

Sending a HUGE thank you to our partners, customers, Accordions, and everyone who has supported us so far. We’re here because of YOU, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Wanted to share five key lessons we’ve learned from growing to 100+ paying customers in a year, and recognize some of our incredible customers who are moving from vendorship → partnership with Accord.

Here’s to the next 100 and beyond! 🚀

1. To get to 100, you need to start with just one. 👯

There’s a famous saying in Y Combinator and startups in general (shoutout to Paul Graham for this one): do things that don’t scale first.

In reality, how you find and sign your first customer isn’t going to make sense for getting to 10 or 100 – and that’s okay (almost preferable)!

To paraphrase Aaron Ross & Jason Lemkin in From Impossible to Inevitable: if you can get your first 10 paying customers, you can get 20, 100, etc. Your first few customers will give you a path to your next 10 (and more) if you listen and respond to their feedback.

You can’t sit around and wait for customers to come to you. You have to do the work to seek out early adopters and bring them on board. Your initial user will give the input needed to build a better product and processes, which in turn will lead to your second user, who will give you more feedback… and it compounds from there.

Your growth might seem small and slow at first. But finding and starting with just one customer is what makes the next 100+ possible! Special shout out to Kevin Nothnagel who gave us our first shot with his sales team and strongly believed in the product from day 1!

2. Partner closely with aspirational customers. 🤩

Your first few customers aren’t just paying you to solve a problem, but also to work closely with a startup they believe in and to be a part of the journey. (Just think: if they weren’t, they’d probably pick something more proven… not your <10 person company!)

In our first year of starting Accord, we were lucky enough to get an intro to the legend Aaron Cramer (top Enterprise AE at Figma). Figma was (and still is) an aspirational company for us to partner with, so we dove headfirst into the relationship, investing heavily in helping their sales team win more deals and create a more collaborative buying experience via Accord. 

Through this design-partner approach, we got to know other passionate sales leaders who shared our philosophy around the future of B2B sales (transparency, accountability, and collaboration wins), and built a strong partnership. It took us over 12 months from that initial intro to formalize our first few seats together, but that foundation of trust & feedback led to them becoming a cornerstone customer. 

All this is to say: find the companies you aspire to partner with and see if they’re willing to come with you on your journey. If your values and missions are a good fit, it will be an irreplaceable partnership. (Thank you Kyle, Marissa, Aaron, Jack, Shelley, Tahirih, Jonathan and countless others for taking a bet on us!)

👉 Learn how Figma partners with buyers & wins more deals with Accord.

3. Know your ICP, focus on it, and re-evaluate it over time. 🎯

Just because people buy your product, that doesn’t mean they’re the best fit.

And even if they’re a good fit now, they might not be forever.

In the earliest days of Accord, we found that startup founders and early reps were the most likely to adopt and use the product – and we got amazing feedback from them as they used us on deals with prospects.

Fast-forwarding a year, our ICP is now slightly later stage (Series A - C, like Atrium, Metadata, Thrive Global), but working with those folks early on allowed us to build WITH real users who were excited about what we were creating.

Your ICP will evolve over time. A helpful resource for thinking about this is the adoption curve from Crossing the Chasm: your earliest adopters will be different from the mainstream market you’re trying to break into, and you’ll need to position and sell differently.

Another mistake to avoid: pursuing everyone who might be interested in buying your product – at the risk of bringing on customers who aren’t a good fit.

Signing a lot of customers who aren’t the best fit for your product will ultimately backfire on you. By focusing on your ICP and best-fit users, you’ll create more advocates and better long-term results.

4. Balance repeatability with personalization. 🔁

Personalization is what helps you stand out to prospects & customers. Repeatability is what helps you predictably scale more customers, faster.

When you only have a few customers, it’s easy to be much more personalized in your outreach and communication. You can go above and beyond for those early partners without over-stretching your team. That personalization and attention is what will set you apart at the beginning and help you build long-lasting relationships.

But to repeat myself: the things you do at the beginning don’t scale!

From the start, even while doing the unscalable, you should be looking for opportunities to build repeatable processes.

What are the common questions your prospects and customers are asking? What are the general stages of the buying process you’re guiding customers through, and what needs to happen in each stage? What messaging is resonating with your ICP in calls and emails?

The sooner you write these repeatable processes down and track them, the better you’ll be able to understand what’s working (and what’s not) in your sales process – and the faster you’ll grow.

But don’t lose that personal touch as you start to scale. Look for opportunities to go the extra mile for your prospects and customers in every interaction. Do 10 extra minutes of research on them and their company. Follow up after every call with the next steps you talked about, and helpful resources you can share in the meantime. 

Build personalization into your repeatable sales process, and you’ll be set for success.

👉 See examples of repeatable, collaborative sales & CS playbooks in Accord – used by teams at Atrium, Figma, and high-growth startups. 

5. Word of mouth is more powerful than you think. 💯

Don’t underestimate the power of giving 10% more to every buyer / customer relationship.

We get a lot of referrals from users who love Accord – not just because the product solves a core problem to hitting ARR targets, but because we went the extra mile during our partnership, even before the deal closed.

I’ve even received many emails from customers sharing their bad experiences with other companies’ sales process – unorganized, non-buyer-centric approaches – and tell me to reach out to them to see if Accord can help. (That’s the kind of support that still blows my mind and makes me LOVE our community! Shout out to Eric @ Zerigo Health for always spreading the good word)

Prioritize partnership instead of vendorship in your sales and success process.

People buy based on recommendations from people they trust. People buy when they can see you actually care. Consistently delivering 10/10 makes a difference.

Top revenue leaders and founders use Accord to partner with buyers and hit ambitious revenue goals. Learn more about our amazing customers.

Want to see if Accord can help you win and onboard customers faster? Get started with a free workspace!