How to Create a
Successful
Growth Strategy

From Aligning Your Team to Defining Your Growth Stack

Teamwork makes the dream work.

(No, but really.)

Think about the future of your business. What does it look like? What do you hope to achieve in the next year? In the next five years? Now, if you asked your counterpart in sales or marketing, would their answer be the same?

Success does not happen in silos. Success is bred in environments where random variables come together in perfect alignment. It’s the place where opportunity meets potential; where timing and ability intersect; where sales and marketing work together in perfect harmony.

When you think about creating your strategy for growth, it’s important to think about the broader team and all of the moving pieces that exist outside of your typical day-to-day. You want to be sure that your vision for the company aligns with the rest of the organization and that you’re working together to achieve your goals.

From establishing the right communication channels to figuring out the best ways to work together, we’ll walk you through everything you need to create a successful growth strategy that will work for your whole organization.

No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.

Communication

Creating an environment where teams can thrive.

If you’re a small team, communication may not seem like much of a hurdle. But as you grow, communication is naturally going to become more difficult. That’s why it’s so important to establish a culture of clear and open communication from the start.

Choosing the right tools

First, you need to establish the infrastructure that will allow teams to communicate effectively. G-Suite or Office 365 are great options. Both are cloud-based business productivity apps that give you access to the essentials: an email address and inbox, calendar, easy file storage and sharing, online conferencing, and team chat solutions. As your team grows, you can start to explore more robust solutions to aid in communication, but having the basic abilities to send emails, view each other’s calendars, share files, and chat online will be critical to your success.

 

 

Establishing the right cadence

Now that you have those basic communication channels in place, how exactly are you going to communicate? It might seem like a silly question; conversations will happen organically. But there is real, intrinsic value in communicating with intention. You should constantly be challenging each other to work together more effectively, better align your goals, and push each other to take things to the next level. Having a set schedule of meetings (or other opportunities to get on the same page) that both sales and marketing agree on will help you hold each other accountable. What’s the best cadence for those communications? It depends on what works best for the team. Below, we’ve outlined a few types of meetings and team communications and the frequency we’d suggest for each.

  • Leadership Meetings
  • All Hands Meetings
  • Email Updates
  • Casual Conversation

Leadership Meetings

Leaders across sales and marketing should be meeting on a regular basis to ensure alignment of goals, track progress, identify blockers, and work through recovery plans as needed. Depending on the size of the organization, these meetings can be as brief as a 30-minute check-in once every week. As with any meeting, it’s important to come prepared with an agenda, set expectations ahead of time about what will be covered, and follow up with any notes or next steps.

View sample agenda.

All Hands Meetings

Occurring less frequently, but for longer sessions, the all hands meeting is a time for sales and marketing teams to come together, review progress, talk through highlights and lowlights from the previous month, and discuss what’s required to meet the current month’s goals. This meeting is a great opportunity to promote empathy across teams and help reps and marketers understand each other’s unique challenges. It may be a good time to go deep on a new experiment the marketing team is running, a new tactic the sales team has implemented, or simply take time to recognize outstanding performers across both teams.


View sample agenda.

Email Updates

Regular email updates are a great idea. The best content? Charts that track progress against the team's goals along with a summary of highlights and lowlights. When it comes to email communication, setting up an alias for both the sales team and the marketing team will make it easy to get the email out to everyone at once.

Casual Conversation


Group Chat

Slack and Hipchat have become popular tools for team-wide communications. Both give you the ability to create chat rooms or channels where the entire team can join in on the conversation.

 
Social Outings

Corporate outings can have a bad reputation, especially if you still associate them with trust falls and awkward icebreakers. But scheduling time for sales and marketing to come together in a fun, social setting can really help folks connect on a more personal level, fostering empathy and respect.

 
Team Lunches

If an after-hours rendezvous doesn’t work for your team, consider hosting team lunches or power breakfasts where the team can come together.

Collaboration

Aligning Sales + Marketing

How are sales and marketing going to work together, exactly? If only it were as simple as marketing bringing in a ton of hot new leads, and sales selling all of them.

Collaboration takes work. You need to establish boundaries, goals, and a commitment to one another about what each team promises to do for the other.

Goal Setting

The best place to start is with your goals. More specifically, your revenue goals. What number do you need to hit for the year? For the month? Now, how many deals do you need to close in order to get there? What do those deals look like? Next, think through how many conversations a sales rep needs to have in order to close just one of those deals. From there, you can figure out how many leads marketing needs to provide so that sales reps can have enough conversations to close enough deals to hit your revenue goals for the month, and ultimately, the year.

Here’s a quick example, lemonade stand style:

Julie wants to make $1200 for the year from her lemonade stand.

That means she should aim to make $100 per month.

Julie charges $1 per lemonade, so that means she needs 100 people to buy a cup of lemonade.

Julie can typically sell a lemonade to every other person that walks by. So, she needs 200 people to walk by if she wants to sell 100 cups of lemonade.

So Julie hires her little sister to go down the street and get 200 people to walk by.

So if Julie’s sister (marketing) can get 200 people to walk by Julie’s lemonade stand, then Julie (sales) should be able to sell 100 cups of lemonade. But if a 500-piece marching band happens to parade past Julie’s lemonade stand, they’re probably not going to buy a lemonade. And if Julie decides to go inside for a snack while her sister is directing people past the lemonade stand, that’s not going to work either. This is where the SLA comes in.

Establishing an SLA

An SLA, or service level agreement, can be used to align sales and marketing by forcing each party to commit to specific deliverables. Marketing promises to deliver a certain number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales. Those MQLs meet a certain set of criteria that both parties have agreed to--maybe they’ve filled out a specific form, attended a certain webinar or event, or they’ve done something else that indicates that they’re interested in buying your product or service. From there, sales promises to follow up with a certain number of those MQLs, converting them into sales qualified leads (SQLs) whom they promise to nurture and work.

It’s important to revisit your SLA regularly. Ensure that both parties are delivering on their commitment, and that the machine is working as you need it to. You may find you need to adjust your definition of an MQL mid-quarter, or change some of your individual team goals in order to hit your revenue goals for the year. The important thing is to make sure you’re reflecting, together, on what’s working and what’s not and what you can do to improve.

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.

Creation

Building Your Growth Stack

Next, let’s talk about creating your actual Growth Stack: the tools and mechanics required to transform your team into a well oiled machine.

The tools you use can maximize your growth significantly, if you choose them carefully. When deciding which software, tools, and processes you’re going to commit to, it’s important to think about how those solutions fit into the larger growth machine you’re building. Outline your strategy first, and then decide which solutions are really going to supplement that strategy, reduce friction, and save you time.

For example: We already talked about how marketing should provide MQLs that meet certain criteria. But what does that criteria look like? And how will they be able to tell if a contact meets that criteria? Marketing needs to make sure they’re collecting information about each contact that comes in. The best way to accomplish that? With a form.

That was an easy one. But what about handing that contact over to sales? Is it easy enough for marketing to pull a daily digest of new MQLs and send it over to sales? Or could your team benefit from a marketing automation platform?

And what exactly does “send it over to sales” actually mean? Hopefully, it means adding those contacts to your CRM -- a critical component of any Growth Stack. Your CRM should be the backbone of your Growth Stack, giving you complete insight into all your relationships in one central place.

The tools you choose for your Growth Stack are critical to your success. You can learn more about the essential tools for your Growth Stack here.

 

Iconography courtesy of Creative Stall from Noun Project.

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