Sales Growth strategy
The 360 Growth framework
A simple, proven guide for saas sales growth
Sales growth strategy has changed. The modern buyer is smart — they’re information-rich and allergic to sales pitches. The only way to reach them is with a cohesive experience across sales, marketing, and customer support.
The recipe for sales growth is different for every company, but the principles stay the same. The 360 Growth Framework helps SaaS companies build a modern sales growth strategy that aligns strategy, action, and resources.
ShipTech Partner seemed to have it all.
The transportation management startup was just acquired by a Fortune 250 company, one of the world’s largest logistics platforms. Their SaaS platform saved customers thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours each year. They had the technology, capital, and product-market fit to compete on a global stage.
But something was missing.
Founded in 2013, ShipTech Partner had relied heavily on outbound sales to grow their business. That strategy worked well for the first few years, but after a while their rate of growth began to slow. Customer acquisition costs were on the rise and the sales cycle was lengthening.
ShipTech Partner’s sales growth rate eventually stalled out.
Why SaaS Businesses Fail
ShipTech Partner’s story is not unique. The company had the technology, capital, and product-market fit to succeed. So why did sales flatten?
The answer has nothing to do with ShipTech Partner, but the modern buyer. As consumers, we are pummeled by sales and marketing messages every day. We’re so tired of this assault that we can’t even tolerate a website pop-up, let alone a cold call or email.
Outbound sales has always been a numbers game, and today, the numbers just don’t add up. “When I started in sales 26 years ago, I knew I could make 15 calls, talk to five buyers, and identify at least two new sales opportunities. Today, I would have to make at least 25 calls to speak with one buyer.”
That’s Mike Poledna, a former VP of Sales at multiple publicly-traded companies. Today, he’s the Founder and CEO of 360 Sales Growth. “I’d have to increase my sales activity significantly just to maintain my numbers, let alone grow. That’s unsustainable.”
ShipTech Partner faced the problem of unsustainable, outbound-driven sales growth.
“We wanted to increase our rate of sales growth, but needed to do so without adding to our headcount,” said Reagan Korth, Director at ShipTech Partner. Without a more sustainable plan for sales growth, ShipTech Partner would lose ground in their market and face tremendous pressure from increasing competition.
They needed a new way to grow.
Developing a Modern Growth Strategy
Sales growth is no longer the responsibility of just sales — it’s a company-wide endeavor.
For Freightview, that meant first aligning sales and marketing around a common growth strategy. Who was their ideal target audience? What did Freightview do that no other competitor could? How could Freightview communicate that message, and what tools would they use to scale and automate their work?
Next came the execution: Driving engagement, conversions, and evangelism of the Freightview platform. Today, the best way to achieve Lift Off is through a mix of inbound marketing, sales, and customer support. Freightview used all three channels to bring their growth strategy to life. Sales started to pick up again.
Finally, Freightview had to build on what was working and accelerate growth. They used quantitative, job-specific assessments to ensure the right people were in the right positions. Then they rallied the entire company around a powerful purpose:
“To solve logistics problems in unconventional ways." (This may sound dull to the laymen, but to a company full of critical thinkers and supply chain fanatics, it’s a battle cry.)
What did this modern sales growth strategy do for the company? The results speak for themselves: In less than 10 months, Freightview shortened their sales cycle by 28%, increased deal size by over 30%, and did so while reducing overhead and cutting costs.
What Freightview accomplished wasn’t luck, or even extraordinary talent (though they have plenty of it). They followed a simple, proven framework for growing sales. Let’s break it down.
The 360 Growth Framework: Proven 9-Step Process for Sales Growth
Before we get into the steps, let’s get something important out of the way: The 360 Growth Framework is not a “Get Rich Quick” solution. It does not grow sales overnight. It does not save you from hard work. Instead, it’s a roadmap — a guide to help you uncover your most dynamic growth levers and execute on them in a systematic way.
The 360 Growth Framework has three phases:
Phase 1 - Foundation:
Phase 1 - Foundation
The foundation phase is all about developing a strategy for success. Every business will have a different growth strategy, but every growth strategy includes three parts:
In a nutshell, positioning is what you do, who you do it for, and why they should choose you over alternatives. Strong positioning allows your brand to occupy a valuable piece of real estate in the mind of your buyers. After Product-Market Fit, it is the most important factor in your sales growth success.
When developing your positioning, be sure to ask these questions:
- What is our target market?
- [For B2B] Who is our ideal company account? (i.e., Ideal Customer Profile)
- Who is our ideal buyer? (i.e., buyer persona)
- What challenges do we help our ideal customers and buyers solve?
- What success do we help them achieve?
- What do we do better than anyone else?
- How do we communicate our value effectively?
The result of your positioning strategy will be messaging. Messaging is how you communicate your differentiated value to customers. These are the tag lines, promises, and “superpowers” that customers come to associate with your brand.
There are numerous ways to develop messaging. Our favorites include the StoryBrand 7 Model and the Market-of-One Messaging Framework from Brendon Dell, author of 12 Immutable Laws of High Impact Messaging:
You may read the above questions and think, “I know these answers already.” And maybe you do. But there’s a good chance things have changed in your customer’s world since the last time you spoke to them.
In the words of CEO Coach, Scott Zimmerman: “The most pervasive cause of ongoing business underperformance is leaders driving hard and demanding more on a strategy that is no longer differentiated enough.”
Just when you start feeling “confident” you know your audience, it’s time to take a closer look. Don’t skip the positioning research. The rest of the 360 Growth Framework depends heavily on it.
The second step in the Foundation phase is promotion. In other words, how do you plan to get your ideal customer’s attention? Too many companies take this step for granted, assuming that if they build it (a great product, website, social media account, blog post), customers will magically appear.
Here’s the truth: the best product in the world, with the best positioning, is worthless without promotion. Promotion can look like a lot of things. The best-selling startup business book, Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth, outlines 19 different growth channels:
- Reporting and analytics
Phase 2 - Lift Off
With your positioning, promotion, and platform strategy in place, it’s time to start growing. Phase Two has a single goal:
To build and refine your sales growth flywheel
A flywheel is like a funnel, except the last stage (Delight) feeds the first stage (Attract) to help you accelerate growth. Here are all four stages:
Before achieving the sales growth results you want, you need to get in front of your target audience (You should have answered this question in the Positioning step.) Your target audience needs to know who you are, what you do, and whether or not you can be of value to them.
The Attract stage consists of all the activities that people consider “marketing”: paid ads, content, social media, direct marketing, events.
But that’s not all. Many businesses still attract potential customers through cold outreach. This is still an effective strategy when paired with proper inbound marketing techniques.
Bottom line: You don’t just want eyeballs on your business — you want the right eyeballs.
‘Convert’ means different things to different people. Here’s our simple definition: When a stranger shares their contact information, signs up for a free trial, or tells you outright, “I’m interested” — that’s a conversion.
Website traffic and social media engagement mean nothing if a portion of that audience isn’t inquiring about your product or service. To improve conversions, you need to do a few things really well:
- Craft a compelling offer (This is where your positioning research will be useful)
- Make the “Path to Conversion” crystal clear
- Put a prospect’s fear and objections to rest
For example, Free Trials are designed to quell the fear of losing money. They give customers the confidence to try your product without the risk.
The “Close” is where you turn interested prospects into paying customers. This is your sales process — it will look very different for different companies (e.g., companies with a self-serve model vs. sales reps), but here are some common questions to consider:
- What buying stages does the customer go through?
- How do your customers make decisions (e.g., individually or by committee?)
- What selling activities will take place to support their decision-making process?
- What content do buyers need to make decisions?
- What proof points will we need to see to determine the prospect is truly interested in moving through their buying journey?
- How do you manage on-going sales conversations (if applicable)?
Nothing else matters if you can’t seal the deal with customers. Get after it.
Most products and services are simply adequate. However, a few truly surprise and delight us. Those are the companies we share with our friends, family, and even strangers.
Delighting customers has a direct impact on your button line in two ways. First, it improves your retention rate. The cost of keeping an existing customer is several times less expensive than acquiring a new one.
Second, happy customers are your most efficient and effective marketing channel. Despite all of the new technology in our world, word-of-mouth is still king.
These two reasons are why the fastest-growing companies treat their customer service departments as revenue centers, not cost centers. You need to give your customer service team the tools, resources, and mandate to go above and beyond.
The Lift Off Phase is not always easy and straightforward. In fact, most companies go through several iterations of their customer flywheel before it finally clicks. When it does, it’s time to move to Phase 3 - Accelerate.
Phase 3 - Accelerate
The final phase of the 360 Growth Framework is all about designing your organization to sustain faster growth. Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, we’ve all seen businesses and individuals fail dramatically as a result of their own success. Once you’ve identified a working growth plan, it’s critical to reinforce it with people and purpose.
Having the wrong people in critical positions is the fastest way to sabotage your sales growth. Unfortunately, we humans are no better at identifying “the right person” than we are at controlling our hunger.
When we make hiring decisions based on “intuition” and “gut feeling,” we tend to choose people that make us most comfortable. And in a rapidly-changing world, “comfort” should be the last criteria on your list.
What you need is data. Data-driven hiring takes much of the guesswork out of hiring. Each position on your sales growth teams (yes, marketing, sales, and customer success) requires different skill sets, so make sure you use position-specific assessments like those from Talexes.
Anyone who is a fan of Simon Sinek’s Start with Why will scoff at the placement of Purpose at the bottom of the page.
Purpose is essential to the long-term growth of your company. However, it shouldn’t be the first step of your sales growth plan.
It’s more important to nail your positioning than your purpose. If purpose happens to be a part of your position, then by all means. But don’t spend too much time figuring out your WHY until you’ve got a strong WHAT and HOW (in other words, product-market fit and sales growth plan.)
Purpose has the power to rally your team and send your business to new heights. Purpose-driven companies have more engaged employees, which in turn leads to stronger results. As a leader, your purpose is to develop your company’s purpose.
- Why does your organization exist (beyond just making money?)
- What are your timeless, unchanging core values?
- What is your BHAG: your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal?
With these three elements in place, you can develop a purpose so powerful that your team will move mountains to reach it. Purpose isn’t the end of your sales growth plan — it’s the beginning.
Grow Faster With The 360 Growth Framework
The 360 Growth Framework helps you identify the right questions to ask, then gives you the tools to answer them. It’s not a “Get rich quick” scheme or a silver bullet. It takes work, but it guides you to do the right work to grow your business.
This isn’t a one-time exercise. As you set new goals, the 360 Growth Framework will guide you to evolve as well. You should revisit your growth plan at least yearly to ensure you’re still headed in the right direction.
It’s time to build a modern sales growth strategy. Only you have the answers, the 360 Growth Framework will show you the way.
MyHubPartner developed the 360 Growth Framework to help SaaS and tech companies grow faster. You’re free to implement the Framework on your own, or we can guide you through the process.
To learn more about the 360 Growth Framework, or to learn about working with us on your sales growth strategy, click the button below.