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Five Things High-Growth Companies Do 

Katie Bullard | Jul 8, 2017 701 views 2 Comments

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What’s the secret to company growth? I’d be willing to bet that if you asked 10 sales leaders where they invest to maximize revenue growth, you’d get 10 different answers.

There are so many levers to pull when trying to increase sales effectiveness—new technology, staffing, training and processes—that it can be challenging to determine where to focus and which investments truly deliver on the promise of growth acceleration.

But I’m a marketer who’s driven by data— and DiscoverOrg is a data company—so we were convinced that solid, empirical data could point to the secrets of growth.



To test the theory, we recently partnered with Smart Selling Tools to survey 200 sales and marketing leaders about the factors that accelerate or inhibit growth at their companies. We wanted to understand what high-growth companies do differently than their low-growth counterparts.

The findings of the 2017 Growth Drivers Report were illuminating and validated the hypothesis that there are a few key strategies and tactics high-growth companies execute more often and more successfully than other companies.

The survey found that companies realizing at least 40 percent growth over the past three years (designated “high growth”) are more often investing in account-based strategies, outbound prospecting, rigorous sales training, data quality initiatives, and technology.

Let’s dive into each of these five factors individually.

#1: Account-based strategies

First, high-growth companies are two and a half times more likely to use an account-based marketing strategy than low-growth companies—and nearly twice as likely to use an account-based sales development and account-based customer success strategy. Low-growth companies are 56 percent more likely to use no account-based strategies.

The correlation between high growth and the use of account-based strategies is one of the strongest and most telling in the survey. It supports the notion of achieving growth by favoring a cross-functional approach to engage multiple contacts at target accounts with highly personalized, multi-channel communications. It’s not always easy to get sales, marketing, and customer success aligned, but, when you do, it pays off.

#2: Outbound prospecting

When it comes to outbound prospecting, high-growth companies were twice as likely to view cold calling as effective, while low-growth companies were more often either undecided about its effectiveness or viewed it as dead. High-growth companies also ranked strong prospecting as one of the top three skills of their sales team – a characteristic that did not show up in the top three attributes of low-growth sales teams.

This data speaks to the value of having a strong outbound prospecting strategy and team organization as well as the right tools and data to execute it well. For these strategies to produce results, team leaders must develop sales skills through training, coaching, role playing, and managing teams.

#3: Training

Speaking of skills development, the survey also found that, while most companies provide one or two hours of training weekly, the fastest growing organizations provide three or more hours of training each week. The findings, however, suggest that training by itself does not correlate to high growth, but is critical in sustaining it.

Fast-growing organizations need to train constantly to maintain momentum and enable teams to perform at a high level. Companies that err on the side of less training and coaching do not set their teams up for the same level of success.

#4: Data quality

Data quality emerged as a theme in several survey findings, most importantly because respondents cited the lack of high-quality account and contact data as a significant inhibitor to growth. In fact, high-growth companies cited it as the number one inhibitor to even faster growth. Bad data leads sales reps to spend too much time in non-selling activities like scouring social media and corporate websites for information and not enough time directly engaging with their prospects. It’s a complete waste of their time and talents.

Teams are most likely to accelerate growth when they exhibit strength in managing data quality. While it may not sound exciting, good data is the foundation of a successful sales strategy. High-growth companies start by first keeping bad data out of their systems, then partnering with data providers that focus on delivering accurate, fresh, and actionable intelligence.

#5: Technology

Finally, building a great technology stack is critical in high-growth companies, which leverage more than twice as many solutions in their sales tech stacks and 23 percent more in their marketing tech stacks than low-growth companies. Poor adoption of technology and systems, on the other hand, is the second leading growth inhibitor at low-growth organizations.

The right technology fully utilized can give companies a productivity boost, increase engagement, support team enablement, and create a competitive advantage. It is clear that organizations that adapt and adopt new technologies are poised to grow more rapidly than those that are slow to change or have sales forces that resist change.

In fact, from a skills perspective, the survey found that high-growth teams hired staff who are technology-savvy and adaptable to change—and valued them more than those who are experienced and disciplined in their sales skills. They take a chance on the less-experienced, adaptable reps who have that natural sales instinct, and then they coach and train them.

Conclusion

DiscoverOrg is focused on all of the above, but we’ve gone through multiple iterations to get our teams where they are today, and there’s always room for improvement. We’d be the first to acknowledge that not one of these tactics is are easy to implement. In fact, if there’s one summary conclusion to draw from the survey data, it is that high-growth companies execute well in the most difficult aspects of sales and marketing. They take risks, but, ultimately, they reap the rewards.

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2 Responses to Five Things High-Growth Companies Do

  1. Andrew Rudin July 10, 2017 at 7:10 am (231 comments) #

    Hi Katie: it’s always nice to see a fellow Virginia alum posting on CustomerThink. I’m wondering if the revenue gains these high-growth companies are experiencing are because the companies concentrated on the five areas you mention, or as a response to business conditions.

    Sales effectiveness and revenue growth are related, but they are not the same. Many high-growth companies are in high-growth industries to begin with, or they have developed product, pricing, and distribution strategies that foster fast revenue growth. From there, they adapt and innovate sales tactics to sustain or improve the growth. For example, I haven’t seen outbound prospecting as a growth driver, unless the company has innovated a novel approach. These days, that usually means incorporating AI, sophisticated data mining, and predictive analytics to augment – or replace – what salespeople used to perform individually.

  2. Katie Bullard July 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm (1 comment) #

    Andrew, Thanks for the really great points and Wahoowa! I definitely agree that no matter what, a company has to have a product that meets a clear market need and price and distribute in a way to capture value. What we have seen, though, is that a lot of companies have good products, but they don’t sell or market them in a way to truly capitalize on growth. We have seen companies clearly outpace their competitors, for example, in the approach they take to outbound prospecting – identifying their target buyer and engaging with them in a much more meaningful and personalized way than their peers are doing – even if both companies have solid products.

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