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Beyond lead generation: sales and customer success growth hacking

Growth hacking is mostly focused on initial marketing or lead generation. But what happens after that?

Mari Luukkainen
Mari Luukkainen
8 min read
Beyond lead generation: sales and customer success growth hacking

A simple definition is that growth hacking is an all-embracing term for data iterative strategies focused solely on growth. Businesses use it when they need massive growth in a short time and on tight budgets. This is why it’s been so popular with early stage start-ups with low marketing budgets. In other words, these strategies are aimed at getting as much growth as possible while spending as little as possible.

With this in mind, let’s look at how it works. Growth hackers often focus on creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses to get customers and make sales. These strategies usually include alternatives to traditional marketing, like social media, viral marketing, or targeted advertising. Let’s look at a few examples to drive the concept home:

  • Dropbox. Starting as a small startup with almost no marketing budget, Dropbox is now worth more than US$ 10 billion. They did this by creating the most successful referral program ever. By offering 250mb of storage to any user who referred a friend, their signups soared by 60% overnight.
  • LinkedIn. Enabling users to create public profiles that search engines would index, give users a great reason to sign up on the platform. This simple hack led to growth from 2 million users to 200 million users within a few years.
  • Airbnb. By simply improving the photos for listings on their site, Airbnb was able to drastically improve the number of bookings on their platform. Adding to this, they allowed users to cross post listings on Craigslist. This instantly gave them access to a huge customer base.
  • Tesla. Would you believe that Tesla does not spend any money on marketing? By using scarcity, exclusivity, referral products and selling a lifestyle instead of a product, they turn their customers into marketers. With this strategy, Tesla have sold more than 600 000 cars to date.

Now, these are all impressive numbers. But can you notice what they all have in common? Yes, they’re all simple strategies that fall squarely in the realm of growth hacking. In other words, they’re all alternative methods to traditional marketing, they’re cheap, and they’re aimed at getting as much customers as possible in the shortest time.

But they’ve got another thing in common. They’re all mostly focused on initial marketing or lead generation. But what happens after that? Businesses need the usual sales and customer care departments like normal enterprises to move on after lead generation and complete the customer lifecycle.

What if you could apply growth hacking strategies to these as well? Could start-ups reduce costs while supercharging their sales?

Tracking and optimizing your lead contacting numbers

Let’s look at the traditional model. As leads come in, whether through traditional marketing or growth hacking strategies, a business must nurture those leads and lead them gently through the buyers’ journey. To do this, a business needs:

  • a sales development representative (SDR). SDRs focus on inbound lead qualification, moving leads into and through the sales funnel and setting up sales qualified leads (SQL) from marketing qualified leads (MQL). In other words, they reach out to the leads, take them through the initial stages of the sales funnel, and get them ready to talk to the sales team. By qualifying leads, they separate the buyers from the browsers.
  • a sales team. Once a lead is qualified by the SDR, it’s passed on to a closer on the sales team. Here, customers will either make a sale or, if not, be nurtured until they are ready to buy.

This process is, to say the least, labor intensive. It uses a lot of resources, both human and financial. Taking into account that 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy, it’s also time intensive. Add to that the fact that sending inappropriate content and making unsolicited sales calls are becoming increasingly ineffective, and you’ll appreciate that it’s an uphill battle.

Now, what if you could apply some growth hacking principles to this process. In other words, you want more optimized lead contacting at a lower cost. Remember, you want the biggest bang for your buck. A perfect way to do this is to automate your lead nurturing process. Using automated lead nurturing means that customers are contacted quicker and sent the right content at the right time. This saves SDRs time on qualifying leads and increases close rates when they are contacted.

Automated lead nurturing allows a business to track leads throughout the sales funnel, knowing exactly where they are. By using much more data compared to the traditional method, a business can segment, and target leads based on where they are in the sales process. Based on this segmentation, a business can drip feed appropriate content at the right time. For instance, the content and communicating will differ from MQL to SQL.

There’s no more unnecessary calls and inappropriate content, and the business takes advantage of every opportunity to make a sale. This leads to increased revenue at a lower cost, meaning a higher return on investment. In fact, businesses who excel at lead nurturing make 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost.

By applying these principles:

  • the sales team doesn’t waste time on educating customers on the product or service. The customer is already educated and knows what value the product or service can add. This frees up the sales team to make more sales and increase revenue.
  • gives the marketing and sales team more time to focus on other tasks. This can be making more sales or devising more innovative marketing strategies.
  • a business can optimize its nurturing workflow. Automation means that the business knows exactly where the process struggles. It can then develop content to address these and streamline the process.

You can now appreciate how this simple change can improve lead nurturing and increase sales.

Sales playbook structuring

A sales playbook is an integral part to any sales journey and outlines what a sales team should do at specific stages during the sales process. It can, for instance include sample emails, scripts, content, and actions that can be used at different stages of the customer’s journey. This is especially important for B2B sales.

With all this information, it frees up valuable time for the sales team to focus on selling. They don’t have to develop their own messaging, questions, and resources to use when selling.

It’s easy to understand why optimizing the sale playbook is important. Remember, more sales equals more revenue. An optimized playbook will contain information such as:

  • Buyer personas. Knowing and understanding your customer is important for any business. The playbook should have the information on the ideal sales target, what they care about, and how they need help. This enables sales teams to better sell to the customers.
  • Messaging. Instead of letting the sales teams develop their own content, the playbook can have messaging and content that is consistent with business’s brand and culture.
  • Activity metrics. Should the sales team make a certain number of calls a day? Should they follow up regularly with customers? Every metric relating to a sales team can be tracked and incorporated in a playbook. Where necessary adjustments can then be made to make their processes more efficient.
  • Technology. The playbook will contain information on all the tools in a sales technology stack. It will clearly set out which tools are used and when they’re used.
  • Plays. These are the backbone of any optimized and successful playbook. Here, the sales team will see exactly what to do depending on the circumstances. For instance, how many emails should be sent to a customer, what content should be sent to them, when they should be engaged on social media, and so on.
  • Follow-up communication. Just like communication for lead generation is important, so is follow-up communication. In fact, it’s one of the most important parts of the playbook. Effective follow-up communication can increase sales quicker.

Now, you know how to optimize your playbook. But what if you want to optimize it further? Of course, you could also automate large parts of the playbook. This enables the sales team to know exactly who the customer is, and what their pain points are. Also, an automated system can also send relevant content to customers exactly when they need it. By applying the principles above, and automating large parts of it, you’ll have a perfectly optimized sales playbook.

Now, you’ve made the sale using a combination of marketing, growth hacking, and nurturing. What happens after that? That’s where customer success comes in.

Customer success

In a customer centric world, the customer is the most important part of a successful business strategy. Customers want information and advice, and they want it quickly. To be successful here, your business thus needs to be effective in customer care as well. And for that it needs customer care consultants.

Traditionally, customer care consultants or customer success consultants attend to customer questions, advise, feedback, and returns. As the name implies, they take care of the customer after a sale has been made. But keep in mind, this is not only about keeping customers happy after a sale, but also increases the customer lifetime value (LTV). Satisfied customers are returning customers and proper customer care ensure future sales and increased revenue.

But how many calls can these customer care consultant handle? In a global economy, what happens after hours? It’s important to remember that customers don’t limit their enquiries to business hours. They’re looking for answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Proper customer care is therefore labor intensive and requires reasonable capital resources.

What if we could apply growth hacking principles to customer care instead of just marketing and sales? We can. Remember the ideal is to make as many sales as possible, with the lowest possible capital outlay. With the technological tools available today you can automate a large part of the customer lifecycle.

Automating many of these customer care processes help a business provide the best possible customer experience to customers. These can include ticketing, answering customer queries, and categorizing incidents. These tools help a business to resolve issues faster, more efficiently, and ensures the largest possible LTV per customer.

With this in mind, these tools offer the following benefits:

  • your business can keep track of customer questions, feedback, and issues. Keeping proper track of these enables you to respond faster and solve problems quicker. These tools also allow all relevant role players to know exactly where the issue is in the system.
  • Not only can you keep track of issues, but it also allows customers to keep track of their issues. Many of these tools provide self-service solutions where customers can log queries, find answers, and track their issues.
  • With customers being able to get answers quicker and problems being solved earlier, these tools make the customer care processes far more efficient and productive.

Keeping customers happy in this way, not only improves customer retention and LTV, but also increases the chance of referrals. These referrals feed new customers into the pipeline that starts the sales and customer care journey from the start.

Final thoughts

There you go, now you can growth hack also your sales and customer success processes.

By optimizing several processes you can make your entire customer journey as efficient as cost effective as possible. The beauty is that these techniques don’t have to be siloed into several different categories or systems.

Technology today allows your business to combine or integrate all these systems into one platform. This cuts down on the workforce and man hours necessary to run these systems. As a bonus, it’s also cheaper.

More importantly, though, by properly implementing these systems, sales and customer care processes are more efficient. This, with more efficient marketing systems, creates a cycle of marketing, sales, and customer care that repeats itself. This puts you on a path of growth and success.

Growth Hacking

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