Ego has no place in growth culture...
It is the number 1 cause of failure in any growth program... this idea that there is nothing left to learn... that past experiences and success are enough to drive future wins... that "staying the course" is anything but a hope and a prayer.
You don't invest in growth without embracing culture change, and I am going to share the formula with you.
This isn't bad news. It's actually awesome, because it means there are steps you can take TODAY to improve the performance of your sales and marketing teams if you're making investments that don't seem to be jibing.
Here are two areas that growth culture impacts, and what you need to do in order to meet them head-on:
1 - Marketing
There are organizational components of marketing that do not jibe with true growth culture.
First, we must toss out this antiquated concept of "content calendars."
This means no regularly scheduled blogging, content offers, email campaigns, socia media marketing, or anything else that in the old days was meaningful only after repetition. We're not against repetition, but it's one thing to repeat yourself because your calendar/engagement told you so... it's another thing to do it because the data indisputably supported it.
Growth marketing isn't about marketing intuition; it's about achieving results through experimentation. Experimentation isn't just about trying new things; it's about a methodical approach to trying new things that starts with a hypothesis, and is supported through testing mechanisms and control factors.
Strategic vs Tactical
First, we must scrap this idea that investments that focus on tactical execution are in any way strategic.
There is only one strategy... you don't come in with an SEO marketing strategy and a social media strategy and an email strategy and a sales strategy and a tech strategy and blah blah blah strategy... Those are all tactics...
The strategy is the all-encompassing big picture--how everything flows together to achieve a specific targeted outcome.
It might look something like this:
- Create synergy with sales
- Sales architecture & philosophy collaboration and adoption
- Persona build-out and validation through interviews
- Value proposition development
- MQL and SQL definitions
- ... (can't give away ALL of our secrets!)
- Strategic collaboration
- Data diagnostic
- Competitive analysis (what do you want to emulate or do differently?)
- Keyword synthesization and research
- Infrastructure (stack and data gap analysis)
- Full funnel ideation (Acquisition, Conversion, etc...)
- Attract visitors to the website via SEO, blogging, social media, and paid media
- Convert visitors into contacts by leading them to forms that gate something they want
- Identify leads out of your contact pool with technology and real-time insights
- Follow leads through the sales funnel
- Get feedback from sales about lead quality
- Hold yourself accountable to quality metrics
Most who invest in growth only focus on lead generation (3 lines highlighted above), but fail to derive value out of their new sources of opportunities, because there isn't a strategy that ties ideas to outcomes.
By the way, this is only the first half... the second is listed below under "2 - Sales."
Outcome Metrics vs Vanity Metrics
When you invest in growth, it may be difficult to get away from traditional metrics we've all been groomed to accept — vanity metrics that tell a heartwarming story, but lack honesty when weighed against objective outcomes.
Even lead generation can fall under the "vanity metric" void of despair if we end it there.
For example, we have TWO recent clients that initiated conversations with us because they wanted to fill the funnel with more "MQLs." However, after further diagnosing their situation, we found that sales was overwhelmed already, and their standard for what they defined as an "MQL" was very low. So, we fine-tuned their approach to elevate the MQL standard, and it turned out that there were very few that fit the new description. Sales is overwhelmed by the volume of UNqualified leads, so none of them were getting called, and deals were falling through the cracks.
Therefore, "MQLs" in these instances were vanity metrics, not outcome-oriented.
You're making these investments to achieve sales, so why aren't we holding your investments to sales outcomes?
The "North Star" Metric:
In growth, all roads must lead to a financial outcome to be considered successful. We call this the "North Star" metric. If our experiments don't influence the North Star, then they aren't considered successful until we can determine without a doubt that they have.
Analytics aren't used as a platform to validate your investments. They're tools to inform decision-making.
These decisions can span across your entire business and have with our clients.
Examples of "North Star Metrics" achieved by our clients:
- Customer acquisition costs reduced from $6,000 to $745
- Desirable customer type consists of more than 50% of all deals
- Undesirable customer types completely turned off
- New markets explored and penetrated
- Company scaled by more than 200% during a pandemic and recession
Reactive Experiments vs Proactive Campaigns
Growth culture is reactive, not proactive. We start with a well-educated hypothesis and a parking lot full of well-articulated ideas and ways to measure their impact... but then we let the data do the talking.
This means no content calendars, no minimum blog output, and EVERYTHING is framed as an experiment, not a campaign.
Short Cycles vs Long Cycles
The world is evolving at a rapid pace. In order to react to our experimentation in a manner that's effective, we must do it quickly. Instead of calendars that plot out quarterly or annual content, everything lives within a 2-week sprint cycle.
We analyze every step of the way and draw conclusions based on outcomes, and by the time one sprint is coming to an end, another is being pushed out the door.
2 - Sales
Follow the inbound playbook (download it here)
There is a LOT that goes into generating quality leads for your sales team. If they don't adopt an inbound sales culture, deals are not going to close... I don't care HOW good they were in a past life.
This is where ego has the tendancy to evaporate your lead investments. Most sales people don't want to change... They've worked hard to get where they are... to achieve that swagger... and they deserve respect for their accomplishments...
They also deserve the chance to succeed... and YOU deserve their commitments to inbound culture.
This playbook is not an option, so you MUST get their buy-in... either during their interview, or during the creation of the strategy. If you let them participate, particularly your prominent leaders, they'll feel a sense of ownership and connection to it.
But beware. Sales people can have very fragile egos (mine included), and this may prove too challenging for some of them. It won't happen overnight, so try to be patient, but don't give them too much leeway either.
Hold them to it.
Don't give up.
When they see it work firsthand, your most obstinate will become your biggest proponents.
Inbound leads and outbound leads don't react to sales in the same way.
- Their value is at its highest in the 5-minutes following engagement to your content (see the statistics and methods for achievement), so we implement a tech stack that elevates that engagement to your sales team in real-time.
- They have given you permission to call and market to them
- They have given you obvious clues to their interests and pain points
- They will not take kindly to ignoring who they are or betraying their trust with cold tactics
- "Winging" it won't work--sales will position themselves as consultants, and consultants are organized, structured, and disciplined... they can still utilize their best personality traits (and should), but there is a very specific game plan that must be followed in order to derive value out of them
Here's a basic overview:
- Unlearn what you think you know about sales
- Prioritize inbound leads over EVERYTHING that can't wait 20-minutes
- Call leads within 5 minutes of content engagement
- Follow up with leads that don't book time right away with a plan (1 call + 1 email template each):
- "How can I help?"
- "Value proposition 1"
- "Value proposition 2"
- "About us"
- "Case Study"
- "Moving on--game over"
- Once first connection is made, set a 1-hour discovery call
- Gather SQL specifications during the discovery call + get them to ask for a proposal
- Set your presentation call before you hang up
- Send follow-up email feeding back discovery points, asking for validation
- After validation, prepare presentation/draft proposal
- Present to prospect on live call, and send after
- Get decision-maker buy-in
- Issue final proposal
- Review proposal with client
- Set kickoff call when final proposal signed
- Send first invoice
- Hold kickoff call
- Move deal to "Closed Won"
Use the templates and tools
A good inbound sales culture starts with process and alignment, and comes together with tech that's supportive, easy to adopt, and makes competing for big wins an enjoyable experience.
There are countless CRMs on the market, but our weapon of choice is Hubspot Sales (see our review here). It's the only "modern CRM" on the market that achieves most inbound sales culture requirements out of the box.
Whatever tool you use, lean on templates to carry your voice, mission, and culture vision.
In our 6-point 2x touch process listed above, we embed our sales script inside the sales email templates. It makes the sales process work like a paint-by-numbers, and gives us incredible insights to the process itself as well as the collateral being used.
When we can see that an email has an open rate of x, a click rate of y, and a response rate of z, we can actually use our marketing prowess to improve outcomes in a manner that sales won't have to be reconditioned to utilize every time there is a change.
Growth culture is the cornerstone to a successful growth investment. Because it's strategic in nature, every aspect relies on the other to carry the same mission and vision.
All for one (North Star Metric); one for all.
When sales and marketing are on the same page and each champion and embrace their individual contributions and roles, growth is not only achievable, but it's FUN. Scapegoating and excuses become echoes of what once was... Your culture becomes one of spirited performance where your strongest links fortify those around them, and truth and objectivity are your guiding lights.