The backdrop of the pandemic may have halted business confidence in the economy, but as the green shoots of recovery start to appear, there’s never been a better time to grow your business.
The big question then comes up: if you want to double or triple your revenue in 2021, how would you do it?
Well, revenue growth isn’t random, it can be systemised.
There’s lots of advice out there — some awesome, some not so awesome. It’s impossible to cover everything in one article.
But I’ve tried to provide a high-level overview of the different building blocks you should consider as you look to scale your revenue, based on my own background in building and scaling fast-growth fintech solutions.
- Build a pipeline in a repeatable and scalable manner that can be refined and enhanced over time.
- Close deals faster and nurture leads properly.
- Take advantage of all new technologies that make it possible to be more efficient.
Define your destiny
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to clarify the market size you’re going after, outline your forecast sales over the next 12 months, and determine how much you’re willing to spend on marketing to achieve those results.
The top-down approach would see you forecast your revenue projections based on market share.
Whereas the bottom-up approach would see you start with estimates of revenues that you could achieve based on a clear ‘go-to-market’ strategy, with clearly defined channels of distribution and known volumes of leads that you’re able to generate.
These data points should then be baked into three key artefacts that you’ll financially run your business on:
- Profit and loss;
- Balance sheet; and
- Cashflow statement.
Once you’ve got a clear understanding of what your projected revenue target is, you need to re-engineer this high-level number into a clear pipeline breakdown so you have a clear understanding of what volume of leads you’ll require to achieve that revenue goal.
You’ll need a clear pipeline that’s broken down into distinct stages to track the customer journey and then to optimise over time.
For example, marketing qualified lead (MQL), sales qualified lead (SQL), contacted, offer, lead closed successfully or unsuccessfully.
Remember, the best way to double or triple your revenue isn’t by doubling or tripling your sales team, but by growing your volume of qualified leads, as well as optimising and automating every step of the journey.
Measure what matters
The main thing in pipeline management is to concentrate on what the metrics of success you need to track are.
For example, average deal size, percentage of deals that have moved from one stage in the pipeline to the next, and what percentage of deals have moved from stage to stage until they’re closed out.
Optimise and grow your lead sources
Just having a website with a great product isn’t enough. You should be considering your web-based traffic-building strategy from day one.
At Cape, we split up our lead generation into ‘paid’ and ‘earnt’ buckets.
- Paid: SEM, pay-per-click (PPC), pay per lead, billboards, radio, TV.
- Earnt: SEO and organic, social media, word-of-mouth, customer relationship management (CRM) lead nurturing, events, webinars.
It goes without saying, you want to be focusing on paying nothing for your customer acquisition, while also finding a way to have high engagement with them.
Generally speaking, your paid engine for growth can be like turning on a tap for leads. That being said, before actively engaging in any form of PPC, be sure to set aside a clear budget and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) target that you’re aiming for.
Also, be mindful that every lead channel and source will have varying conversion rates. Be sure to bake this into your financial modelling work when coming to a ‘customer acquisition cost’ that you’re comfortable with.
Optimise for lead types
Look to split leads into three types: seeds, nets and spears.
(This was something popularised by Aaron Ross. I highly recommend his books and work if you get time to check it out.)
Seeds are predominantly word-of-mouth leads from prior relationships and happy customers. You can’t proactively grow these, but you can be fast to close a deal.
Nets are marketing leads, events, webinars, white papers and advertising. It’s all about casting a wide net and is very much a quantity over quality game. These are easy to generate.
Spears typically come from sales and business development folk reaching out to specific targets, lists and companies.
The goal is quality over quantity. This is most likely a team that manages accounts or responds to inbound leads.
Optimise your customer journey
Hurray! You’ve generated some site traffic. But, erm, that’s not where the journey stops for you my friend, as you’ll need to crack on with optimising website traffic.
It’s important to remember it’s not just about the eyeballs you attract, it’s about the kind of eyeballs you collect, and how you slice, dice and direct them through your buying journey.
For that reason, once a visitor lands on your site, be sure to track on-page conversion and how customers move from one page to the next.
There’s a number of tools I’ve used in the past from Hotjar, Mixpanel, Optimizely to Fullstory that are all fantastic and worth exploring.
Optimising your communication channels
Testing messaging and call to actions (CTA) is essential. You need to understand what emails have been opened or the view rate, which can be indicative to show the strength of the subject line.
Otherwise, we look at click-through-rates to understand the strength of the CTA in the email and the response rates to show the strength of the actual messaging.
At Cape, for example, our starting benchmark for open rates is between 30–50%, click-through rates are 20–35%, and general response rates are 15–30%.
You should also look at when you’re sending out your campaigns. Data typically shows that either Tuesday or Wednesday at 9am, 3pm or 6pm is the most effective.
Automated lead nurturing touchpoints
You’ll need to pick a number of touchpoints per lead and decide how to contact them.
There are various reports out there that highlight the optimal number of touchpoints to reach out to a customer either via text, instant messenger, phone, email or carrier pigeon.
Salesforce suggests six to eight touchpoints of contact over a three-week period, and then moving the lead onto a ‘nurturing queue’ for follow-up at a later date.
Reactivate old leads
Just because you closed off an old lead, doesn’t mean the customer has necessarily given up on purchasing your product.
Be sure to stay at the front-of-mind, without over-communicating to your customers, so that when they’re ready to pick back up the buying journey, you’re the first port of call.
Create virality and referrals in your offering
Creating a ‘viral expansion loop’ by building virality into the functionality of your product is a great way to generate free leads from site visitors and existing customers.
When looking to create organic referrals from others, consider the best time to capture a referral is just as a lead has successfully closed.
If, for example, you’re an e-commerce business, can you offer your customer free credit on a future purchase if they refer you to a friend?
Build your technology sales stack
Finally, you’ll need to build out your technology sales stack to help with everything from lead generation, management, nurturing and optimisation.
This will consist of scraping lists, data enrichment tools, outbound email campaign software, CRM and marketing automation.
Cashflow is king
You can’t survive on cash alone, as what you need to achieve is a positive cashflow position, with strong cashflow management processes in place.
But, as we look to the New Year and draw a close on an eventful 2020, predictable lead generation is the one lever you can pull to help your company achieve greater top-line revenue growth.
Good luck and godspeed.