By Michael Humblet
During my career, I received tons of questions of corporates on how you can use growth hacking to accelerate your sales, so I figured it'd be a good idea to discuss this topic in my Sales Acceleration Show with David Mendieta Villegas, co-founder of Elium Academy. Elium Academy is a hub for digital entrepreneurship that helps scaleups to find the best way to grow and young professionals to acquire the digital skills required to build companies of tomorrow. In a recent interview, we discussed how you can create a structural framework to accelerate sales with 3 steps: sales and marketing as part of a growth team using CRM as an automation tool and rollout sales inside of the growth sprints as part of the revenue and referral section of the growth hacking funnel) to acquire new markets and customers.
Humblet: "David, can you first introduce yourself?"
Mendieta: "I am a serial entrepreneur and I have been building tech start-ups and social entrepreneurship companies and the latest thing that I did as a growth hacker is building a growth hacking academy. Today I want to talk about how to implement growth hacking inside a company based on my consulting experience and then I want to talk about how I created the academy. In the end, I hope to learn from you about how to make the connection with sales to accelerate your revenue."
Humblet: "So, David, how does a growth hacker hack his own company? How did you start?"
Mendieta: "First, I want to talk about the three steps to introduce growth hacking in your own company.
The first thing you need is an idea. You need to have this base that you want to implement. That can be a landing page, a system with tracking so that you can really understand your customer and collect data.
The second step is to put together your funnel. In this funnel, you need to understand how you acquire customers, how you keep your customers and make your customers refer to other customers. Everything happens in this funnel, so you need to split it up into small experiments. And these experiments we call the hacks. Because when one of these experiments actually work, then is when you grow your customer base in a significant way."
Humblet: "And that is when you start putting money in it? I see a lot of big companies doing that. They just throw money at it, but they have no clue. So, you put in smaller amounts and test?"
Mendieta: "Yes, and then you need to understand in what stage of the funnel you are because different companies have different problems. It could be that a company actually acquires customers, but has a hard time retaining them. And then the third step, like you say, once you understand that your experiments are working, then you scale them up. Scaling up is not only about putting money in your experiments, but it could also be about outweighing them. Because when you do an experiment the first time, you could do them by hand and then in the second stage you put together the systems to scale it."
Humblet: "One of the things I always see is when the word ‘growth hacking’ is mentioned it’s always about optimisation, tooling, CRM etc.. So, you take it a lot further than that? It is not limited to automation?"
Mendieta: "Our approach, in the end, is always about strategy. If you have the right strategy to growth then you are going to be able to find what you track, what data to collect, which systems to automate etc.."
Humblet: "So, the main question of today is: how to use growth hacking to accelerate your sales. Now, let me give you three major tips.
Tip one: you have to implement sales sprints into your sales team
Use the agile methodology that you all know and that you are applying for your product development, you need to start applying that to your sales team. That means you segment better, you set up your process, you find your niche and you start accelerating on that segment.
Tip two: you need to understand your funnel to optimise your sales process for conversion.
That means, if in sales all is about revenue and relationship, then you need to start optimising the way you do business, like a landing page. When you think about landing pages and tools you really go through the whole process. Why don’t you think about your sales team like that? You start optimising the process."
Mendieta: "And not only the sales team, the sales quote, the sales presentations. All can be optimised for conversion."
Humblet: "That’s right. Optimise for conversion and speed! That’s why you use focus in the sales sprints, because it’s always about optimisation and conversion."
Humblet: "The third tip is to use your CRM in an actionable way. You need to start using it in a new, very actionable way. It should not be reporting, you should be using it for you. If you look to the evolution that happened in marketing where they have automated so much that marketing evolved to a really intelligent way of doing things. Now the same needs to happen to sales. It needs to go to the next level, your CRM needs to work for you and automate as much as possible. It needs to be actionable."
Humblet: "Now, let’s go to your academy. How did you build it up and how did you growth hack your own growth hacking academy?"
Mendieta: "I have been working with growth hacking for a while, but it was only in about January that we decided to teach people about it because we have very valuable content to share. Our challenge was that we wanted to do this very fast because we have a lot of other business going around. We put ourselves a deadline of three months to do everything and in our case, that was attracting new students and attracting companies, because our program was not only about education, but also about how do we sponsor the education of people that want to learn about growth hacking by creating value to companies that these students could help. And we had real live cases.
So, the program would be a 12-week program with in the beginning classes and then they jump into taking real challenges from scale-ups in Belgium and help them grow. So, this is what we did. First of all, we put together the base. From the three months, we used three weeks to create our landing pages, to create our introduction videos, to create our curriculum and to put together a team of experts. So we had someone from Tesla, we involved you etc.. We had then two months into which we had a brand that in terms of education was not well known. So, we had to grow really hard into understanding which experiments we had to run to acquire these customers. So, we created two funnels: the b2b funnel and the b2c funnel. Our initial assumption was that finding new companies would be much harder. So we started there. The first thing we did was experimenting outbound, which was the obvious thing to do. So we put together the landing pages, we sent emails, we tracked data and we surprisingly reached out to about 80 scale-ups. We had a response rate of about ten percent. So we realised that our initial assumption was wrong. Finding new companies was not the hardest part, but getting students to pay for the education was much harder. So we spent all the rest of the time to this b2c funnel and we tried absolutely everything. And the things that eventually ended up working were the things we didn’t think would work."
Humblet: "Could you give some examples?"
Mendieta: "We did a process of LinkedIn automation to reach out to people, which is a weird place to reach out to people that have a job and offer them an education. The chance that that person takes that program is very small. What we then started doing was segmentation. We started targeting people with very specific profiles. For example, someone who works for a big consulting company with a taste for entrepreneurship. We then reached out to these people, we built a relationship and tried to we tried to sign them up. Next, we implemented a fully automated process.
We also went to job fairs. They seemed to be very ineffective. The people there were not in the mindset of learning. They only wanted to earn money and get a job. Another technique that worked for us was that we started to put our program like it was a job. So we went to all the different job postals and we started posting our education program as a job. We did not feel like we were tricking anyone because in the end the chance of a getting a job through the program is very high, because you are working with all these different scale-ups.
Now, Michael, I want to understand from you how do you see yourself when you go to all these companies. Which sales techniques do you apply when you are with a customer that has implemented growth hacking?"
Humblet: "I deal with a lot of companies, start-ups, scale-ups and they always ask me: do we need growth hacking or not? Sometimes I say yes, when it’s very experimental or when they really want to scale. That’s one. On the other hand, when I come in there already has been some growth hacking and then it’s all about sales skills and building relationships with the customer. The customer is going to phone you, you need to pick up the phone and then you need skills. So I do a lot of skills trainings, I will then go into the CRM: I will check pipelines, I will check how you go through the stages and apply knowledge. For instance: If you are at the qualification stage and you start losing deals, you have a value proposition issue. If you start losing deals at the proposal stage when you make your quote, then you have a pricing issue. And the real sales skills, the real closing issue is at the end of the sales cycle. That’s when you can say now you really need to learn how to close a deal and a lot of companies do that way too early. So for me growth hacking, it really feeds that funnel a lot. You do a lot of experiments, it’s almost the new form of business development, that’s how I would call it. And you feed and you try to take it through the tunnel, you optimise and then you put scale to it. That’s how I see it. It’s the only way, the fastest, cost-efficient way to do this."
Mendieta: "And what from the technical point of view? Sales can also have a lot of tooling; a lot of systems you can implement like CRM’s, lead document systems, etc.. I myself use a few of them and I have seen how even my experiments by focussing on good sales tools help saving me a lot of time."
Humblet: "On the one hand, yes. If you do it very well. But a lot of companies are a slave of the tool. It things are not going well I see people sitting filling out the tool, adding content to the tool. Whereas I say in sales you really need to be with the customer physically. That is where your future money is. So there is a balance. But a lot of new tools, like the one you have been using, deliver real good quality and they have been improving the sales process a lot. I would say: check it out and thank you, David, for your time!"
Elium Academy is a hub for digital entrepreneurship that helps scaleups to find the best way to grow and young professionals to acquire the digital skills required to build companies of tomorrow. You can see the programs here: http://elium.academy/ and the services for supporting scaleups here: http://scaleupbeat.com/
Looking for more inspiration to accelerate your revenue acquisition immediately? Check out the other videos of my Sales Acceleration Show, on YouTube.
Text edited by Karolien Selhorst. Find her website at www.karolienselhorst.be or check out her profile at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karolienselhorst/