After 20 years of helping Startups to succeed I see the same pattern form again and again. The Startups that succeed are those that understand their customers and how to reach them rapidly. Of course you must have a good product or service, but whatever business you are in you will only achieve growth if you are making profitable sales.
Many businesses begin with a sale to former work colleagues or friends. Referrals are a great source of early sales, but within 3 to 6 months you have generally used up all your favours. Businesses that survive and grow are those that have a healthy sales pipeline of fresh prospective customers.
The key to growing a strong sales pipeline is to understand your customers and have a method to reach them rapidly and close sales effectively. If you are selling to consumers (B2C) then you should be thinking about using PPC, SEO and Social Media. In this article I’m discussing Business 2 Business (B2B) growth hacking.
Twenty years ago I heard everyone say that “Telemarketing is dead”. It was the advent of the TPS (Telephone Preference Service). Twenty years on, apparently telemarketing doesn’t work because of GDPR. Quite frankly, it’s sheer bunkum! TPS, GDPR and all the other legislation was brought in to place to protect people’s data and certainly not to prevent people doing business with one another. You might have noticed that anyone who says “Telemarketing doesn’t work” just happens to hate making cold calls and is generally useless at this line of work.
Every day, £Billions of deals are discussed and closed by telephone. In fact, over the last 5 years I have helped companies to have better results by telephone and screen-sharing than sitting in the same room as a prospective customer.
Growth hacking is about experimenting and iterative learning. For the astute business development expert, nothing works faster than formulating a plan and then engaging with prospects via telephone. Each telephone call helps to tweak the understanding of a customer’s needs. Each follow-up call is tweaked to perfection in terms of closing prospective clients by learning their pain points and how to make the prospect say “yes”.
In the early days, don’t be fooled by those who try to sell you a fancy CRM system or piles of beautiful printed brochures. You need “reasonable” marketing collateral such as a website and PDFs explaining your offering. The “process” is more important than the tools in the early days. You need to understand your prospective customers quickly and engage with them rapidly. Then you need to adapt your sales funnel process as soon as possible by refining each step towards closing the sales. The faster and more efficient your sales cycle, the less people you need to talk to and the more people you will close that you engage with.
Beware the sales person who claims to have the “little black book of prospective customers”. A true growth hacking business developer uses a set of processes to understand your prospective customers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a new marketing algorithm or a spaceship. It’s not “who you know”, but “what you know”. The “what you know” here is an understanding of your potential customers. Then using an iterative process of tweaking your sales process to find the right buyers as fast as possible and make them say “yes”.
For one of my clients I’ve helped them with triple digit growth, year-on-year for four years. They’ve also won the Deloitte Fast50 award for the last 2 years. If you want my help or just a little bit of free advice – please feel free to say hello – firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn.