“Our organization hadn't really spent a lot of focus, time, energy, or money on marketing ourselves,” explains Nick Belenky, EVP Sales at Top of Mind Networks. As the leading mortgage CRM, the team knew this was an ironic situation to be in. Top of Mind had been so focused on giving a great product experience and helping customers market their businesses that they weren’t maximizing the marketing opportunities for their own solution.
This isn’t an unusual position for SaaS companies to find themselves in. Often, this focus on marketing to existing customers and supporting Product and Customer Success takes priority, while the potential for Marketing-led growth takes a back seat. However, as Top of Mind was discovering, the buying process is changing and moving more online. To keep up with competitors and acquire new customers, you need to be investing time and money into Marketing.
This is where Top of Mind found themselves at the end of 2019....
When you bring on new portfolio companies, defining titles, setting expectations and clearly assigning responsibilities in the company is usually among the first things you do. This should include identifying and optimizing areas of alignment between the leaders in the company. But, too often, this gets pushed to the back burner because there doesn’t seem to be a direct connection to the investment thesis or because investors are cautious of interfering with the company’s internal dynamics.
However, without alignment between function area leaders, the company could be:
You can’t assume the executive team will be aligned just because they’re in the same office. These relationships need to be proactively managed, with clear communication requirements and goals...
Improving sales efficiency is one of the most common growth levers that feature in PE investment theses. There is huge potential for growth here if you improve conversion rates throughout your sales funnel. However, you can’t improve sales efficiency if you don’t have data on how prospects are moving through the pipeline towards closed-won.
In high-touch sales models, getting data on pipeline status is as easy as shooting an email to someone on your sales team. But in companies with low-touch models that have small or nonexistent sales teams, this can be more complex. How do you know if a lead is moving through the pipeline if you don’t have a salesperson to collect that feedback?
In a low-touch, ‘try before you buy’ SaaS model (for example using free trials or freemium plans) you’re likely dealing with small deal sizes and short sales cycles. There are thousands of people who want to try out your product: The challenge is converting these users...
Whether you’re filling gaps in the current marketing strategy, growing the marketing function, or restructuring the team to merge products, hiring new marketing leaders is a common step after an acquisition.
Without the right leaders, Marketing won’t have the management and expertise it needs to scale demand generation, improve nurture, and support Sales. But finding marketing leaders that suit the company, its objectives, and your ideal roadmap can be a challenge.
The right marketing leaders will accelerate your growth; the wrong marketing leaders will keep you stagnating at status quo, or make rash decisions that could damage your brand. If you hire a CMO who isn’t a good fit for your business, the best-case scenario is several months of slow progress on your growth levers, money wasted on initiatives that go nowhere, and the expense and hassle of hiring a replacement within a year.
For PE firms, that kind of outcome is disastrous. With a limited time to...
Portfolio companies often believe that their investors only care about EBITDA and, therefore, that they’ll refuse to invest more into an initiative. If you’re a PE investor, you’ll know that’s far from the truth.
After an acquisition, aligning the management team and the board around core initiatives as quickly and efficiently as possible is the number one priority for both portfolio companies and the PE firm. Scaling Marketing is often at the center of this, and most PE firms are keen to give Marketing budget to grow—if Marketing can prove they’ll deploy that additional budget responsibly.
Too often, Marketing walks into the boardroom and asks for another $1 million to supplement their budget, without data to back up their request and without explaining how these projects support the key investment thesis growth levers.
Do you know where and how Marketing would be using the extra budget, and what their projected growth metrics are?...
When we’re brought in by a private equity firm to help a particular investment, the portfolio company’s immediate expectation is that we will ramp up Marketing priorities like demand gen and content right away.
Our response is always to slam on the brakes.
Scaling is always the goal, but doing so without the right data framework in place is equivalent to setting your marketing budget on fire. Scaling Marketing isn’t like flipping a switch: It’s about building an engine that is predictable so that we can invest more dollars with confidence as time goes on.
This requires data organization. Without data, you’re pursuing complex initiatives in the dark. You don’t know where to invest or how to track success on those investments. You’re playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and maybe you guess right and invest in the right space, but maybe you don’t.
To avoid costly misjudgments, you need to build a marketing data framework that...
The revenue opportunities PE investors identify during the due diligence process usually form a big part of the investment thesis and are pinpointed as core growth levers. After the acquisition, starting to build out the strategy for these leavers and put them into practice is a top priority. Seventy-two percent of investors are looking to validate their investment thesis in the first 100 days. You’ve paid a high price to acquire the company, so it makes sense to validate the core growth levers early to make sure you’ve made the right move.
To make this likely (or even possible), everyone needs to be clear early on what is expected from them. Marketing leaders need to be fully aware of how each of the strategic levers in the investment thesis connects to their function and responsibilities, so they can help make sure the company meets those projections.
There are seven core strategic growth levers often included in investment theses:
As many companies have found out firsthand, hiring salespeople with great track records doesn’t guarantee your sales team will hit their targets. Even if you’re filling your team with talented sales reps, they won’t be able to deliver their maximum value unless you train them to be experts on selling your specific products to your specific target market.
A 2018 study shows that the average tenure for a salesperson is only around 1.5 years, so chances are you’re regularly onboarding new salespeople. The faster you can get them up to speed and selling effectively, the more value you’ll be able to get from your limited time with each rep.
The key to training reps better and faster is to create a sales playbook. This asset outlines your company’s particular sales processes and best practices so everyone on the team can refer to and learn from it. The sales playbook should include all the resources new reps need to start making sales.
Digital marketing can generate incredible ROI, but to capture that potential value you need a well-organized team of experts.
If your Facebook ads are already driving leads, a paid media expert and a skilled marketing designer could optimize the ads to deliver leads that are higher quality. If a blog post is capturing 20 email addresses each month, the right writing and SEO skills could help it capture 50.
Building a team that can maximize the impact of your digital channels isn’t just a case of hiring extra digital marketers. Instead, the most successful marketing teams are structured in a way that focuses on digital marketing results and includes specific key skills.
Many teams that are trying to generate more leads through digital marketing are slowed down by growing their team in inefficient ways:
Does it seem like your team is churning out content without any means of prioritizing what to work on next?
We see this often within companies that have recently merged or made an acquisition and have a central marketing team. Teams can slip into the habit of working on each product line in a siloed way and lose sight of the projects that can best benefit the business as a whole.
Instead, the output of Marketing needs to be managed across product lines by focusing on measurable results. Building a cross-product content marketing roadmap allows you to strategically allocate your resources and drive leads in the most efficient way.
Many companies with multiple product lines or brands face three common challenges:
Creating content for each product line in a siloed way or without reviewing existing content can bloat your library with multiple versions of similar assets. This is an unnecessary duplication of effort and,...