Bootstrapping At Scale
One famous Silicon Valley axiom is that nothing is a better teacher than being cash strapped. And many venture-backed firms who have closed huge rounds have gone on to make massively costly mistakes. That is why we promote strategies that achieve scale and triple digit annual growth with self-funding programs that require very little investment capital.
Sales & Marketing Should Power Themselves
Several of our startup and growth-stage firms come to us after their home-grown sales and marketing strategies have not driven projects returns. Often they plowed large budgets into activities that were for “long-term” goals or with long payback cycles. Simply put, don’t do these. Make it clear that sales and marketing are there to feed the organization, not the other way around.
Don’t Spend Money if The Results Cannot Be Proven
A professor once told me that “strategic” is a management uses when they want to do something that they know will lose money. Internet marketing and direct selling have the advantage of offering lots of data-driven activities. Insist on understanding the marketing pipeline and what the metrics are so you can trace every dollar from initial lead generation activity to receipt of bookings.
Short ROIs are the only ROIs
Digital marketing spend should be able to result in profitable dollars in within 90 days or don’t do those activities. Prioritize scalable, low-cost selling over high cost selling at all turns. Also prioritize scalable solutions wherever possible. Don’t do expensive, outside enterprise selling until you have concluded there really is no other way to grow. one of our clients achieved their first ever profits by cutting outside selling investments and focusing on new digital marketing and inside selling tactics that drove higher volumes of easier to collect subscription sales. They built all this while becoming profitable with relatively little up front incremental investment.
Stay Home First
Human nature means doing what you like and what has succeeded for you in the past. This often leads leaders to emphasize higher cost, slower sales models than they need to. If you can make money by direct, automated selling through digital marketing then optimize around that and scale as large as you can before looking at other selling models. Look next to inside sales models before looking to outside models. Outside selling is a critical practice for many firms but is typically the slowest to grow with the longest sales cycles and the hardest to scale so do not assume it is your only option.
There is a time and place where outsourcing can help with scale but never when you are early stage or unprofitable. You must be able to generate leads and close them yourself before you can outsource that to another company. Similarly, indirect selling such as though partners or channels has its place but should be a last resort. Nobody will ever care about your sales growth as much as you do.
Slice data, then slice again
Everyone wants to be data driven, but doing it successfully means slicing data and looking at cohorts while eschewing averages. Averages hide treasure. Encourage large amounts of short, inexpensive tests. It could be that one lead traffic source with one landing page with one call to action with one inside sales strategy and script is massively more profitable than the others. It is not true that you can treat marketing and sales as distinct activities. Leads generated from different lead sources rarely will respond the same to your sales strategy. Assume they will not. Even small changes in copy or call to action can convert different leads or set different expectations that cascade to very different sales experiences. Drill into that and plow your money into that cohort to scale it. This has allowed us to make many, many clients massively profitable on strategies they thought were disproven.