Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep and CEO of House of Revenue, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders. Her team currently leads the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 15 companies nationwide.
Mary joined the Predictable Revenue podcast to discuss how CEOs can remove friction from the outbound sales process and scale their company’s revenue holistically.
The two stages of scaling
Mary defines two separate stages of a CEO’s scaling journey: the start-up scale and a scaling-up phase, which begins once they hit the second stage of growth. During the start-up phase, the company is focused more on product-message fit than product-market fit, and the emphasis is on acquiring customers rather than profitability.
“From there,” Mary says, “Once you get to one, two, sometimes three million in revenue, you’ll start to notice that what got you to that point won’t necessarily get you to the next level.” That second stage of growth is what House of Revenue helps their clients navigate.
At this point in the journey, you may find the infrastructure from your start-up phase no longer works. Mary offers advice on how to set yourself up for success and reach that next level as quickly as possible.
Narrowing down your target market
“When you start a company, you’re doing it off an assumption or hypothesis,” Mary says. “You’ve identified a problem in the market and you’ve come up with a solution.” This initial phase is all about testing the hypothesis, fine-tuning your product or service, and gathering data.
The first step of testing your hypothesis is to narrow down your ideal customer. “If you could pick one to build your entire customer base, who would it be?” Mary asks.
During the start-up phase, it’s common to cast a wide net of outbound sales prospects. But to scale to that next level, Mary recommends having no more than one or two ideal customer profiles (ICPs), and to direct all of your sales development and marketing efforts toward that one ICP.
Using data to scale your outbound sales development
Mary recommends CEOs collect data in three primary areas: company, customers, and competition.
Gathering internal data
First, Mary recommends CEOs look at their go-to-market strategy to evaluate how the brand is performing and how it’s perceived by the market. She also emphasizes the importance of getting re-centered on who your customer is. A common mistake she sees companies make is ramping up outbound sales, only to get “more of what they don’t want”.
For example, you may be able to sell your product to a variety of different market segments and decide the best way to grow your revenue is to focus on each market equally. But if you reviewed your internal reports, not all those markets are producing equal revenue.
Mary also recommends talking to your customer success and support teams to see what’s working. You need to understand which initiatives are most and least effective, so you can replicate what works and replace what doesn’t.
Customer data in sales development
According to Mary, voice of customer surveys are one of the most powerful tools for scaling revenue–but only if used correctly. “We like to ask questions that are both subjective and objective,” Mary says, to understand both the customer experience and more data-driven details.
Here are a few sample questions to ask your customers:
- How did you find out about this company?
- What was the problem or challenge you were facing that prompted you to engage with our company?
- How was the sales process for you? What went well and where is there room for improvement?
- How was your onboarding experience?
- What would you change about the product/service/company?
“One of my favorite questions to dig into is why they remain a customer,” Mary says. To better understand your ongoing client relationships, ask them for specific ROI statements and why they’ve chosen to continue working with your company. “If you’re not proactively working to retain a customer, your competition is.”
“Who else is playing in this space, and what is the experience they’re creating for the buyer?” Mary asks. “What ways are they communicating with and attracting buyers?” She recommends secret shopping to learn more about your competitor’s outbound sales process, and find ways to improve upon it.
Once you understand who you’re competing against, you should have your brand and go-to-market strategy.
Cooperation between marketing and outbound sales teams
For companies looking to scale their revenue, Mary stresses the importance of operating within a single funnel. “Buyer’s are getting frustrated with friction in the buying process.”
Mary and her company have seen a recent resurgence of full-cycle salespeople, who guide a customer from the initial sales development phase through to closing the deal. This eliminates the most common point of friction in the buying process: the handoff.
The next step is to ensure alignment between your marketing and sales development teams. “We want to have a holistic effort between marketing and sales,” Mary says. “Every campaign should be worked in tandem.”
One way to accomplish this is to customize marketing and sales campaigns for each ICP. “If you have four different buyers, you should have four sets of variations,” Mary says. Automation technology makes this process much easier; each ICP should automatically be directed to content that speaks their language.
Customization reduces friction from the buying process because every piece of content that ICP interacts with (whether it comes from marketing or outbound sales) feels tailored to their specific wants and needs.
Growing your outbound sales team
The first step to scaling your outbound sales team is to “identify all inbound tactics and get them running so you have plentiful lead flow”. Next, Mary recommends hiring one great marketer and contracting out to an agency for anything this person needs additional help with.
For sales development reps, Mary recommends hiring in pairs; this allows for more team-building and friendly competition. It also means that if one of those salespeople doesn’t work out, you’re not starting from scratch.
One mistake Mary cautions against is growing your outbound sales team too quickly: “A huge mistake would be you raise a bunch of money and hire 12 or 20 salespeople, but you don’t have your playbook yet, you haven’t tested your campaigns or sequences or processes, and it’s not scalable…You have to test it before you scale it.”
How to use outbound sales data
Once you’ve collected enough data on your company, customers, and competition, it’s time to put those numbers to work. Mary recommends CEOs focus on leading indicators and lagging indicators. “Leading indicators are your saving grace,” Mary says, because they allow you to predict what will happen in the future.
If you want to reach a certain quota, you need to know both your close rate and your pipeline numbers. Then work backward to figure out how many meetings need to be booked to reach the quota. If your numbers aren’t on track, you’ll need to change course and reevaluate.
Knowing your numbers allows you to set fair goals for your sales development team, as opposed to pulling quota from thin air.
Mary also recommends keeping an eye on your top-of-funnel metrics. Most CRMs have a dashboard for tracking website traffic, open rates, and engagement rates. This data can give you a better idea of revenue attribution (ie. where your leads are coming from), and also make sure you have enough activity at the top of your funnel to convert.
“As a CEO, data is your best friend,” Mary says. “You need to know your numbers.”
An underrated aspect of sales development
One revenue area Mary often sees companies fail to take advantage of is their existing customer base. “The sale doesn’t stop when they sign a contract,” Mary says, arguing that more companies need to focus on the client experience if they want to maximize revenue.
Likewise, marketing also doesn’t end after the sale. Your marketing team can create new client onboarding material, build how-to knowledge bases, FAQs, and instructional videos. They can implement chatbots and automation to reduce the need for hands-on tech support. All of this makes for a smoother customer experience–and therefore increases the likelihood of referrals.
Sales development and marketing teams can help create customer incentive programs and generate what Mary refers to as customer success qualified leads (CSQLs). “Generating new leads from the customer base is where a lot of money is left on the table.”
While some companies may include a brief “Hey do you know anyone else that needs us?” at the end of an email, most haven’t formalized this process. “At the end of the day if you just do a remarkable job, word of mouth is going to happen,” Mary says. “But where do you capture that word of mouth?”
She suggests monitoring online reviews and engaging on social media to tap into this new market. “Customer success low-hanging fruit for companies looking to scale revenue.”
Scaling starts with a smoother outbound sales process
For CEOs looking to scale their revenue, the first step is to audit their current environment: gather data on their internal processes, customers, and competitors. Then you need to identify the gap between your current state and desired future state and make a plan for closing that gap.
The biggest takeaway is to make data-driven decisions whenever possible. As Mary says, “Opinions are valuable but data is priceless.”
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Throughout 2021, we had the fortune of interviewing 50+ sales development experts on the Predictable Revenue Podcast.
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