Process and Models, the Science of Growth
Absolutely essential for predictable, accelerated growth is process. You must have a growth process. Not only must you have a process, but your entire team must follow the process – all the time. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t have a consistent process, there is no way to accurately model your pipeline and get to predictable growth.
Challenge: If you have predictable growth without a consistently followed process, call me. I’ve never seen it happen – not in companies that have more than a dozen clients. I am not at all worried about being overwhelmed with calls.
About the Process
What is a growth process? This process includes the steps from the initial outreach to a prospect from marketing to a closed deal. Here are the essentials:
- One Process. This process is a single process. It’s not a separate marketing process and a separate sales process. Companies who experience misalignment between their marketing and sales teams have 2 processes. Marketing follows its lead generation process and throws leads over the fence to sales, hoping good things happen. Sales picks up leads and perhaps enters a sales process. If sales is struggling, we commonly hear that marketing’s leads are bad. Don’t get caught up in this cycle.
- Handoffs. There will be handoffs across teams – typically marketing to inside sales to direct sales. Those handoffs need to be clearly defined. Qualification criteria during handoffs should be agreed to collaboratively across the teams. Service level agreements should also be in place. For example, how quickly is sales expected to respond to a qualified opportunity delivered from inside sales? How many times should they attempt outreach?
- Definitions. For the process to be clear, the stages and steps of the process need to be defined, with the expectations of what is required to enter the stage, what should happen within the stage, and what is required to move to the next stage.
About Using the Process
Just having a process is not enough. The process must be followed. Seems logical, but so many companies have a process, even configure it in their marketing and sales systems, but do not manage their teams to the process. How do you make sure your teams follow the process? Here are the essentials:
- The system is the source of truth. Don’t allow your sales team to report on deals in Excel. This is a red flag that they aren’t using the sales system (with the process), and thus don’t trust the system to report accurately. If it isn’t in the system, it didn’t happen.
- Manage to the process. One of the important aspects of having your marketing and sales leadership collaborate on a joint growth process is that they have buy-in. If they believe in the process (that they helped create), they will manage their teams to the process. This is a leadership discipline. Use the process, as reported by your system, in your progress/staff meetings.
- Compensate on the process. Often leadership discipline will be enough to have your teams follow the process. But just as a precaution, assign part of your incentive compensation to the individual’s use of the process – as reported through your system.
About the Model
If you have a process that is clearly defined and consistently followed, you can model your growth pipeline. You will know exactly what your pipeline should look like at any given time to achieve your growth targets. If your pipeline is weak in particular stages, you will know where to focus your energy on improvement. And you will also know early if you are at risk of missing your targets. Here are the essentials:
- Timing of steps. Understanding how long each step of the process takes, on average, allows you to model the lead time of your pipeline growth.
- Conversion of steps. Understanding the probability of each step moving to the next step (what we call “conversion rates”), you will understand how many deals you need in each stage to close your target number of deals.
- Cycle of bookings. Understanding what your bookings cycle looks like (e.g., perhaps you close most of your revenue in Q4), you will understand how your pipeline needs to grow quarter over quarter.
- Growth rates. Especially in complex B2B sales processes, where the average sales cycle length is many months or quarters, you must account for your annual growth rate to model your required pipeline. So often I see companies calculate their goals based on the bookings target of the current year, forgetting that they will be building pipeline for the next year (this year’s bookings x the growth rate).
Where Strategy Automation Comes In
All of the above can be enabled through systematic support – what we call Strategy Automation. Using a strategy platform to properly define process and all of its elements, reinforce the process throughout marketing and sales execution, model the pipeline, and calculate goals is powering new levels of growth acceleration and predictability. That is why we built ayeQ. ayeQ is Strategy Automation.
Stay tuned for additional posts in this series to better understand how Strategy Automation works. In the meantime, check out our on-demand webinar: Accelerating Predictable Revenue Growth [+ ayeQ Demo]! WATCH NOW