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No matter the brand or company, there is one question that is always asked—how do we grow our revenue? It's the classic business question, and it's no wonder because growth is something everyone strives for. You can read many tips and tricks to tackle this goal, but Darell Amy, Growth Strategist, has it down to a science.
Darell sat down with our CEO, Stacy, to give advice that will help companies expand their revenue and their clients. Keep reading for excerpts of their conversation. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses how to double revenue by following two strategies: getting new clients and cross-selling to current clients by setting aggressive but realistic growth goals.
Darrel is a growth strategist at Revenue Growth Engine, where he works with executives, sales leaders, and marketing professionals to develop and execute revenue growth strategies from the approaches he has learned over the past 27 years. He’s trained over 1,000 salespeople and developed training programs for multiple Fortune 500 companies. Since 2004, he has also led the marketing agency Convergo, which he co-founded, helping companies leverage the latest digital marketing strategies. As a member of the Forbes Business Council and the C-Suite Network Advisors team, Darrell advises executives on ways to grow. He is also the host of the Revenue Growth Podcast and the co-host of the Selling From the Heart Podcast.
Question: How did you get here today? You have a couple of podcasts. you founded an agency, you are a coach. What is it that you've done to drive yourself to here?
Answer: Well, I had an interesting career where I was wearing two skis. I was wearing a sales on one leg—you know, it's almost winter; it's almost ski season, right? We can go with this analogy—I was wearing the sales ski, and I love sales. I've been in B2B sales since I graduated from university about three decades ago, and it's been it's B2B sales, sales development. Love it and love the profession of sales. At the same time, twenty years ago, one of my first clients, when I started a sales training company, said, "Hey Darrel, that sales training is great, but our website doesn't say anything about it. Do you build websites?" Being an entrepreneur and my first client, Stacy, do you know what the answer was? It was like, "Yes, sir, I'll do what you need." But you know, it started a very interesting journey, and I dusted off that marketing degree I had and started this journey in digital marketing as well.
So, having gone down that road of web, search, social, inbound account-based marketing, and all of that, I was sitting and getting ready to present at a conference. It was a growth conference which is right up my alley, and the room was full of marketing leaders, sales leaders, and some entrepreneurs who were sitting at the back of the room. I watched as I stood there, the entrepreneurs were sitting in the back of the room because all of the marketing people were in the front row they were leaning in, they were ready to go, and I could tell the sales managers and leaders that were there were just kind of like, "Why? We could be out selling. Why are we sitting in this room?" And I could tell the owners were sitting in the back drinking their coffee, and the little thought bubble over their heads was, "Can't you all just get along and figure out how to grow?" Because a lot of companies, big and small, marketing going in one direction, sales is going in the other. Marketing, we've got our own language. Sales has its own language, and what ends up happening is we get out of alignment very easily, and to use the skiing analogy, we all know what happens when our skis aren't pointed in the same direction. There's probably going to be an orthopedic surgeon involved at some point.
And when we get aligned around that saying, "what do we need to do to grow revenue," then the obvious next question is, well, "how do you grow revenue?" And at the end of the day, there are actually two ways and only two ways to grow revenue if you boil it all down. On one side, we go get new customers, net new business. On the other side, we cross-sell more to our current client base. So net-new, cross-sell. Market share, wallet share. Land the deal, expand the account. And when I realized that, a couple of things happened. First of all, I realized the role of marketing and sales is both to drive net new business and to ensure we're moving our clients to what I'd like to call 100% sold, but they're buying all of the products and services they could be buying and join all of the benefits they could. And the other thing I noticed, Stacy, is: Most companies seem to be good at one or the other. They're either really good at going out and landing new deals, or they're really good at managing their client relationships to grow revenue inside the clients. But when you get both going at the same time, that's when the magic of exponential growth begins to happen.
Question: I think you know you just hit on an important topic where you said most companies are good at one or the other, and what that leads to is a lot of companies who are very good at sales are not good at keeping their clients because they haven't put that into their systems. And then the agencies that are great at expanding upon their clients, they are good at serving. They build relationships. So what you're doing is you're saying you need to bridge the two?
Answer: I think so. And I would think—however, you answer that question—whether you say, "Hey, Darell, we're really good at net new," or "Yeah, hey Darell, we're great at cross-selling, but it's been a while since we've had a new client come on board, and the last few that came on were kind of accidental." Whatever situation you're in, what I would say is keep doing what you're good at, and take the area that you're not good at, and begin to work together as a sales and marketing team and say, "well, what processes could we put in place to help drive, you know, cross-sell revenue," if you're great at net new. And what I find is this is so so powerful because the law of exponential growth, and we unpack this in the Revenue Growth Engine book, is actually incredibly powerful because modest growth in both net new and cross-sell simultaneously leads to incredible results. For example, if you grow 12%-15% in your net new business, which is simply measured as your number of clients or customers—I like to call them clients. Customers go to Walmart to buy toothpaste; clients go to trusted advisors for advice. I digress. So if you measure net new and total number of clients and cross-sell as revenue per client. So if you get your net new business up 12%-15%, and you're able to grow your cross-sell, revenue, your revenue per client by 12%-15%, the math is incredible. You actually double business organically somewhere between 24 to 36 months. It's actually incredibly powerful.
And so if you take a look at where you're good, keep doing what you're good at, and put the processes in place to ensure that you've got something that you can drive and tweak in the area (you're not good at), and get both net new and cross-sell going at the same time, you've set your business up for exponential revenue growth. And in this environment that we're in right now, where we're heading into some choppy waters, it's really, really critical to be thinking about every angle to drive revenue in your business.
Question: So, how can people set themselves up for success? You gave us two different ways: you can either get new sales or you can grow your current client base. So when you're getting new sales, what are the best ways to do that, or the general mistakes one should avoid while doing that?
Answer: I think the biggest mistake most companies avoid is trying to boil the ocean. When you start a company, and I was telling you about starting my own company, when that prospect said, "Do you build websites," like, "Yes, sir, we do it. Are you willing to write a check? And then yes, we'll do it," you know, you have to start a company that way. But there's a point in the maturity of an organization where you realize that there are ideal clients and there are less-than-ideal clients. An ideal client—we talk about this at length in the first few chapters of "Revenue Growth Engine"—an ideal client is a client that needs everything that you offer and is a great fit for your business values wise, culturally; and the fit thing is really important because we want them to stick around. And so, it's really interesting.
That good old Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, you know him as the 80-20 guy, right? The Pareto principle: he found out that 20% of clients were driving 80% of the results. I've seen this across multiple businesses; when we'll go to a revenue growth workshop, we'll take the top 20% of their client base. Without fail, it's driving the bulk of their revenue. So who are those people? What do they have in common? Can we build an ideal client profile, and can we set our company up to go and really get those people? You know, do we say goodbye to the rest of our clients? No, not necessarily, unless they're problem clients, probably should fire some of those, but that's a whole other conversation...some clients are way more perfect than others.
When we understand that ideal clients—and do this exercise, and it's a fun exercise—if you want to do this, just look at some of your top clients, the ones that drive the most revenue, and they're not always the whales. They're not always, you know, the Fortune 500 companies, usually, they're sitting right in the middle. Look at the ones that have the most revenue potential and then go, "Okay, what if they bought everything they could buy from our company over the next decade? What would they be worth?" I like to call that 100% sold. If they were all in, what would they be worth? And when we go through this exercise over and over again, we look at the ideal client value, and then we look at the average client value. How do you calculate that? Easy! Annual revenue divided by your total number of clients. You just figured out your average revenue per client. So when you take a look a the average revenue per client versus the potential of an ideal client, over and over again, I see it's 10x, 20x, 30x. I actually had a company we were working with recently that was 100x of their ideal client value versus their average, and at that moment, you go, wait a second, we don't have to boil the ocean. And, by the way, unless you're coca-cola or Nike, you don't have an unlimited marketing budget, right? So let's figure out who those ideal clients are, let's figure out what outcomes they want, and let's market to them very, very focused.
And in the book, I advocate, especially for my B2B friends, who are able to really identify those ideal clients—I love inbound marketing. I just got back from the inbound conference. It was fantastic, but I also like the outbound marketing, which is saying, let's take an account-based focus. Now that we know who our ideal clients are, then we know who are ideal prospects are. Whole other conversation. If you know your ideal prospects, you don't need leads. You already know who your leads are. You need engagement, so let's just shift our mindset. And so there, there's a lot we could talk about there, but I think when it comes to growing that new business, the mistake we make is trying to boil the ocean. Instead, get focused on your ideal client and get proactive about engaging with them.
Question: What are some mistakes people make with the sales process?
Answer: Let's go to cross-sell. One of the things that we love to do as sales professionals, and I'm a recovering sales professional, I'm down to therapy twice a month. It's going pretty well, the tick is slowly going away...By the way, my very first sales manager showed clips from Glengarry Glenn Ross in our sales meetings, and the reality is success in sales is anything but that. It's building trust, and it's selling from the heart. And I get to have conversations with all my favorite sales thought leaders on the "Selling From the Heart" podcast. At "Selling From the Heart," we believe that the number one currency of sales is trust, and this goes along with our marketing friends as well. And all my friends in marketing we're also responsible for building trust. How do you build trust? Well, that's a two-sided coin: authentic relationship and meaningful value. It's that authentic relationship, by the way, with multiple decision-makers and influencers in a deal, and it's also going in and delivering meaningful value, which is what we were talking about earlier, the outcomes that they want. That's the meaningful value. But what happens with sales is we close the deal, we come back to the office, we ring the bell, we write it on the board, we slap high fives, we start buying, you know, a new bathing suit for the President's club trip to Cancun, and we realize that you don't close a sale. My friend Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter, says, "You don't close a sale. You open a relationship." And I think one of the things that happens so often, and this is why a lot of companies get stuck on net new and never realize the full potential of their account base, is that they close the sale, and then everything just kind of gets handed off to operations or client success. But really, if you think about it from the perspective of I didn't close the sale, I opened a relationship. The selling and marketing doesn't stop on that first order it only just begins.
And from a marketing perspective, when someone becomes a client, they actually have given you permission to market to them. We finally got the coveted permission...So what are some things you can do from a marketing perspective to facilitate the cross-sell. Well, we can think about the onboarding process. Joey Coleman, one of my favorite books, "Never Lose A Customer Again," says the first 100 days of a client relationship are the ball game. When we elect a new president, we always say you got 100 days, right? Well, we got that. It's psychologically researched, and back to in that first 100 days, your new client is making a decision as to whether they'll ever do business with you again. They might not cancel the order, but we all know we've been there in our mind. We're like, "never buying anything from them again." So we've got the opportunity now. That, you know, the moment that order is approved and sales could see order, to think about the process that we're putting in place to make that new experience great to counteract the inevitable buyer's remorse that's going on. And then you can think about all kinds of other things. One of my favorite tactics we talked about in the book "Revenue Growth Engine is creating a client loyalty program.
Question: What advice can you give our listeners today?
Answer: I say this at the end of the Revenue Growth podcast every week. I say, "let's get going, and let's get growing." And the point of all of that is right now we're here, you know, we're facing a New Year. We're facing uncertain times. We are going to have to work hard. We are going to have to get out there. We're going to have to try things. I want to really challenge you to get out and talk to your current clients. Ask them with empathy about what's going on in their world. Listen, and they will give you the keys to succeed in the months and years to come.
Darell has so much great information from his experience in working with executives, sales leaders, and marketing professionals to develop and execute revenue growth strategies. Check out the podcast below to learn more about how to expand your revenue and clients.
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Topics: Podcast Interviews, For Brand Marketers, Podcast, HB Podcast