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Sean Cahill started his career in sales, so it’s only natural that he absolutely hated marketing. To Sean, marketing was the group that gave them garbage leads that they couldn’t sell.
Eventually, he landed a job at Cisco that caused him to fall in love with marketing. From that experience, he developed a thirst for working with startups, where he started working in funnel generation for startups. This led to him starting his own company and developing a pipeline for startups and working to get them into a Series B.
Today, Sean works at Unify Marketing as the National Practice Leader for Marketing. He still loves working with startups!
To grow pipeline, Sean stays focused on these 3 main areas:
Sean realized early on in his startup phase that one of the biggest issues in the startup world is that when startups get a Series A , and they develop an MVP to take to market, and then they focus on the Series B.
Typically, it takes the startup getting $1M in MRR in order to get a Series B, and founders realize the only way they can close that many sales and generate that much revenue, they have to get more leads.
So they work to buy more leads, which then throws off their close rates and then they try to shorten their sales cycles and every time they try to pull another level to make up the slack, it just completely puts the entire process in chaos.
Startups don’t need more leads.
They need better leads.
They need the leads that are the most likely to close within 30 days.
They need the leads that are going to generate the highest ACV.
So how can a startup go about getting all of these ideal leads for the goals they need to accomplish?
This is what Sean would call the Perfect Customer Profile.
To begin developing this, you could:
- Go into your CRM and identify everyone that has bought from you.
- Begin to identify commonalities among those buyers.
- Take those commonalities and set it against your entire database and start tracking who else has those commonalities.
- Begin to understand what features you can identify in prospects that could be able to trigger a sale.
- Then focus all of your sales efforts on that data set that is most likely to become a buyer.
This whole process is called building a Propensity Model.
The whole idea is that instead of focusing on more leads, you are only focusing on the better leads, so narrow your database down to 1000 of your best leads.
Sean suggests targeting these better leads on a smaller level. These leads do not get the spray and pray marketing that gets blasted to the rest of the world.
Nurturing these leads comes in many forms, but Sean has had the most success with the following methods:
- Phone Calls
- Social Media
- Video from a tool like Video Card
- Send a specific and targeted physical gift
If whoever you want to target could have a $30K ACV, then it’s ok to spend $1K targeting them.
Using this method, Sean was able to get MRR from $10K to $30K and increased close rates to 50%.
Because everyone is inundated with more touch points and communications points than ever, the people who end up closing business are the people who end up being creative and thinking further outside the box.
The best part about this whole concept of Propensity Modeling and then following up with your 1000 best leads can be set up with automation using tools like Salesforce and integrated tools.
Being able to do this in a very personalized way at scale is the magic that can truly change your trajectory.
When it’s all said and done, you’ve basically automated your entire SDR process, and then you’d have your ADR or BDR just sort of co-pilot the lead through the entire process.
When you follow this process, your conversion rates will go through the roof because you are targeting better, you are following up in a more effective way, which means you will close more sales!
The biggest mistakes that companies make when trying to go from Series A, to Series B, to Series C are:
- Not properly defining product market fit
- Not having someone be your Chief Devil’s Advocate to tell the Founder when they are wrong.
- Thinking your total addressable market is everybody.
- Not giving your product the Mom Test.
- Investing too much in top of funnel.
- Not moving enough people from top of funnel to end of funnel.
- Not focusing on having a high conversion rate.
- Not having the right leadership at the beginning. Just because someone is good at sales doesn’t mean they should be your Chief Revenue Officer.
On the marketing side of things, some of the biggest mistakes made are:
- Not adopting industry best practices.
- SaaS companies still selling perpetual licenses.
- Not moving towards modern marketing.
- Change happens slowly inside the Fortune 1000.
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