How to set up a scalable growth engine

Collin Stewart, CEO

12 December 2018

Finding product-market fit, even the earliest inklings of it is a huge milestone for any growing company. You’ve identified a need in the market, you have a solution to that problem, and people are willing to pay for it. You’re enjoying organic growth, and all that hard work and planning is finally starting to pay off.

In general, a company experiences three broad stages of growth:

  • Initial stages of product market fit: (early growth)
  • Search for scalable growth revenue: this is an unpredictable stage that starts, typically, when a company hits $3 million in revenue. There is a lot of testing done during this phase to determine what growth levers will work for each respective company. Preserving cash at this stage is paramount.
  • Scalable growth: you’ve determined what growth levers will work, and they are being implemented. You know how to grow, and scale the company.

The challenge lies, as the above list above highlights, in figuring out how to combat the inevitable early plateau. Developing (and implementing) new scalable, and repeatable, sales processes is hard. But without those new schemes, substantial growth is near impossible.

“Growing a business needs to be repeatable. Imagine, you ran a marketing campaign, and it went viral. That’s awesome, but it isn’t repeatable. So, you need to have a bit more control,” says Ali Tajsekandar, Founder and CEO at Wishpond, on a recent live chat with Collin Stewart, co-CEO of Predictable Revenue.

“On the other hand, you have an ad campaign, and it does well. The costs are in line, at first, but, as you spend more, it doesn’t scale further. You need more structure.”

 

 

According to Tajsekandar, the fundamental pillars of every successful growth engine are:

  • Being repeatable
  • Being scalable
  • Being profitable
  • Ensuring the long-term value of each deal you win must be 3x more than the costs of acquiring that customer ($1,000 cost must be worth $3,000 to the business)
  • Ensuring you are able to recover acquisition costs in 12 – 18 months

The Sales Process

Once you’ve managed to nail down these points, you need to build inbound process that is clear and precise.

In the case of inbound, that process should look something like this:

  • Attract Visitors (from SEO, ads, blogging etc.)
  • Capture Leads (top of funnel, cold leads)
  • Qualify Leads (leads become Marketing Qualified Leads)
  • Qualify Prospects (SDR qualifies prospects, and leads become Sales Qualified Leads)
  • Close Deals (Account Executives give demos, deliver pricing)
  • Onboarding (Client Success or Account Managers trains new customers)
  • Client Success (Customer is using the platform, and getting results)
  • Provide Referrals (Happy clients start providing referrals)

“The sales process is almost like a manufacturing line,” adds Tajsekandar

“Each responsibility is separated out.”

Growth tactics

Okay, so…you’ve figured out a growth engine, and you’ve designed a crystal clear sales process. Now, you need a few tips and tricks up your sleeve to attract prospects and, ultimately, generate new revenue.

There are countless growth tactics a company could explore (for every unique business, there is a unique growth scheme), but a few tried-and-true methods are:

  • Gated educational pieces of content (e-books, or whitepapers, for instance) – prospects download these resources, in exchange for their information. Once they download, their information is entered a sales drip.
  • Contests – again, prospects exchange their details to enter a contest. Once entered, their information is used in a sales drip.
  • Website chat services – to engage with visitors on a website, companies will use chat technology such as Intercom or Sumo, for instance. This tactic can be automated, or not. Typically, the more expensive the lead, the less automated the engagement should be.
  • A welcome mat – an overlay that pops up as visitors are reading a blog post, for instance. That overlay asks if the visitor is interested in chatting, or learning more about what the company has to offer.

 

The nuances of outbound

An outbound sales process is similar to the inside process outlined above, with a few important distinctions. Chief amongst those differences is how much more intentional you have to be with outbound prospects. Inbound is casting a very large net, outbound is being very precise in who you want to reach out to.

“Outbound success is, in part, defined by being able to define your niche. Who do you want to target? If you get this wrong, everything that follows will be wrong. From there, you build your lists, via a reputable data source. People often say buying lists is bad, but buying lists is really effective if you buy the right lists,” says Collin Stewart.

“Then, you have to define your playbook – how do you want to engage with your prospects? How much can you afford to invest? The way I look at it is, if I have a $1,000,000 deal, I am absolutely going to be personalizing every part of that outreach. With $15,000 deals, that’s a more programmatic outreach. All of your messaging here is personalized to a persona, or the market.”

  • SDRs are following the playbook, and booking meetings
  • Account Execs are demoing prospects
  • The sales team is following up with leads. This is a huge difference from inbound sales – outbound prospects don’t know they have pain. As such, members of the sales team are going to have to follow up with prospects that need to be worked over the long-term. These prospects are interested but aren’t ready yet. That’s a unique characteristic to outbound, and needs to be considered.

(Editor’s note: Have a great sales process, but want to make sure your sales team is trained as best as possible? We spoke with Pendo’s Bill Binch about how to develop high performing salespeople. Read out about chat here, or listen here)

Keys to success in outbound

Just as inbound sales has a set of effective growth tactics, so too does outbound have distinct components for success. They are:

  • Grow the top of funnel – consistently reach out to new prospects
  • Have perfect meetings – focus on pain, and educate prospects on how you can help
  • Execute perfect/intelligent follow-up – use what you have learned from those meetings to execute nuanced, effective follow-up messages.

Having a perfect meeting (and executing perfect follow-ups, for that matter) might sound difficult, impossible even. But, there are distinct features every meeting should have, in order for a salesperson to glean the information necessary to propel the sales cycle. Those features are:

  • Building rapport
  • Establishing need
  • Delivering your pitch, as needed
  • Understanding potential deal size
  • Understand the decision-making process
  • Understand the time frame for a purchase
  • Establish next steps

     “You can use these elements in a scorecard for your reps – score then between 1 – 3 on each, to make sure they are ticking all the boxes on those calls,” says Stewart.

    “The important elements on the list are: establishing need, understanding the decision-making process, the time frame for the deal, and locking down next steps. If you can’t book mutually agreed upon next steps, then that’s a sign they aren’t worth further prospecting. They have to keep showing interest.”

    The critical follow up message

    “About 80% of your outbound conversations, will be the result of follow-ups. Your outbound prospects simply won’t be ready,” says Stewart.

    “What separates the best salespeople is their dedication to going after these prospects and building intelligent follow-ups.”

    To ensure your team is having the most effective calls possible, ask them to participate in mapping calls with the end users of your product, rather than just targeting the decision maker. Those calls will yield critical information about their day-to-day routines and organizational structure, so when you finally reach out to the decision maker, you’ll know exactly what their pain points, and you’ll be able to articulate how you can solve those issues.

    “This information is great for email content,” says Stewart.

    “Now you have gone from sending a cold email, to showing you’ve done the work and that you understand their business.”

    For more both Tajsekandar’s and Stewart’s thoughts on sales development and building a well-oiled growth machine – including common mistakes to avoid, and the time it takes to start seeing results from outbound – check out the rest of their interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

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