What would a mid-market company learn if they could go through their entire growth journey in just two years?
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Do you ever think about it? What would it be like if you now hit the reset and relived your company's entire growth journey to a mid-market scale? Like way faster than it originally took? This journey I personally went through when as a co-founder and commercial lead taking a stagnated startup to growing rapidly into mid-market size in less than two years. That was from approximately 60.000 € annual revenue to over 15.000.000 €*. This article is about that journey.
“It’s easy to see how the sales and customer process digitalization automatically becomes the highest priority when it’s the only way of securing the scarce expert resources being used where they deliver the best value. Without that there’s a chance you’re sacrificing the company growth rate and profits.”
This article is for you if you’re actively solving the challenges of how the sales and customer processes could be further developed to be more efficient for unlocking more revenues and better profits.
What you can take from this article are ten extremely actionable learnings that in mid-market scale can be used for removing the sales and customer process bottlenecks that might hinder your growth. At the end of the article I’ve done my best to summarize these ten learnings to three key takeaways.
Why do I compare B2B mid-market companies and startups?
I’ve also experienced working in and with mid-market companies, and realized that the problems they deal with are much the same, the biggest difference being the time span. Mid-market and startup companies both in their own ways also have to somehow deal with the problem of how to beat their enterprise scale competitors that have deep investment pockets.
For a startup their cash runway is typically measured in months. Even if there’s more capital available, using it fast enough for securing high return for the investment is the target. Use the given runaway to prove the right things or the odds of being doomed dramatically increase in a very short time period.
Before finding a product-market-fit a startup company in many ways resembles a miniature mid-market company suffering from stagnated growth. The reasons and scale might differ between the two but the problems have many similarities in them. Both are trying to find out why they’re not growing and how to fix that in a way that scales?
Ten extremely actionable learnings of living an entire growth journey in less than two years
In my co-founder commercial lead role I was responsible for scaling up the sales and customer processes. The start of the company was quite slow, as it tends to be before finding the right product offering and business model. For most startups that’s all there will ever be. But for us when Covid hit and regulation scheme suddenly changed, the market took off in a major way. What previously was a desperate sales operation trying to find even the one interested potential customer suddenly needed to cater a full blown demand.
The reality was that our processes were far from being ready for it. The continuous resource scarcity forced me as the commercial lead to seek scalable solutions because otherwise too much of the introduced demand would have been missed. We didn’t have the option all the time just to hire the next sales rep and limit our growth only to human resources.
Here are my ten actionable learnings that hyper scaling revenue in less than two years taught me:
- Meeting up to 30 demanding customers per week forces to be creative in developing and launching scalable micro improvements quickly
- Learning to be successful in handling the first sales meeting in short form, for example in 15 minutes, is a must and customers are valuing these low friction touch points no matter of their size
- For a good customer experience the first actions that need to be taken are often related to processes happening immediately before and after a meeting
- Time consuming repeating tasks are quickly revealed by the large volume of sales meetings and developing a scalable way to answer to them is a vital condition, often being some sort of sales material
- Releasing whatever improvements quickly has to be prioritized over making them perfect, or the risk of using the very limited time and resources on something that does not bring more value is increased significantly
- Discovering all the possible digital channels there are and harnessing them to be at service reduces the risk of growth bottlenecks but on the other hand require good integrations to serve the purpose
- Digitalizing the simple transactions and touch points in the sales process shortens the sales cycle significantly
- The accumulating customer data without a proper data model quickly becomes a burden which slows down the growth while destroying the profits, as it does not reclaim the potential of accelerated learning and automation enabled efficiency boost
- Scaling the targeted expertise capabilities for developing the sales and customer processes is very difficult fast enough via only inhouse recruitments, the ramp up just is too slow
- High demand results to high amount of deliveries and when scaling sales without scaling operations in the same cadence the house of cards crashes sooner than one can say “cat”
The conclusion? Add high speed to the equation and digitalizing the majority of process automatically becomes your highest priority
It’s easy to see how digitalization becomes the highest priority because it’s the only way of securing the scarce expert resources being used where they deliver the best value. Without that there’s a chance you’re sacrificing the company growth rate and profits.
The high speed at the same time practically forces us to implement an agile mindset often far from perfect, leading to even hussle-like action. What follows though is highly optimized customer acquisition cost, minimized sales cycle and above the average hit-rates.
Three key takeaways
What I shared in this article is nothing revolutionary and in my opinion it shouldn’t be. Making sure your sales and customer processes aren’t the bottlenecks for your growth and profitability, should never be an unachievable challenge. But take into account that moving towards digital and more automated processes will require changes in your current ways of working, even in thinking.
Reliving the growth journey at a high speed could automatically solve many of the challenges that established mid-market companies face. In the modern sales development literature and research it’s broadly recognized that the capability of solving these challenges are vital for your company to thrive instead of suffering the never ending vanishing market shares.
Here are in my opinion the three main takeaways for mid-market companies looking to thrive in the future:
- Execution is king as having a quick feedback loop enables accelerated learning
- Ensuring your sales team is equipped with analytical and quantitative skills to utilize the opportunities from the ever accumulating customer data
- Combining the two above to a creative growth driven mindset is what allows you to rapidly remove the most critical bottlenecks in your processes leading to future revenue growth and profits
So, how do you imagine your growth journey as a rewind would look like?
*Author disclaimer: I operatively worked for the case startup until 09/2022, revenue at the time of exit being +9M€ (H1 confirmed). The 15M€ is an estimation of the 2022 total revenue.
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