A Year in theLife of a Startup:A Marketer’sChecklist            Ilya Mirman               Rev. 12-01-2011
Contents                                                            Introduction.............................................
Introduction                                                          I recently passed the one year mark at my current st...
Summary: Startup Marketer’s First-Year ChecklistA Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist                   ...
Marketing        Website Redesign Tips from HubSpot:                                                                      ...
Differentiated positioning                                                                       Hopefully, by the end of ...
Content                                                                        Some questions regarding the content of you...
SEO                                                                            Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key v...
Case studies and References                                                              •   How many case studies do you ...
Which social media sites matter                                                                                    •   Wha...
Lead generation                                                                          Lead generation results vary wide...
Marketing metrics                                                                        Without metrics, we are dead meat...
Modern marketing analytics tools make it nearly effortless to not only see the big picture                              (t...
Lead nurturing, lead intelligence                                                                              •   What ar...
“Using the methodology, we worked to                                                                     understand the cu...
Awards                                                                        Winning awards might give you some degree of...
Prospecting tools and selection criteria                                                                  Sales teams live...
Leveraging lead intelligence in Sales                                                          •   Why do prospects come t...
Sales rep onboarding                                                          •   Do you have a training curriculum to bri...
Cross-functional  The three critical phases of a startup:                                                                 ...
About the Author                                                                   Ilya Mirman has spent the past decade b...
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A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer's Checklist

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Summary of stuff to achieve in a startup's first year, focused on marketing (and sales).

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A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer's Checklist

  1. 1. A Year in theLife of a Startup:A Marketer’sChecklist Ilya Mirman Rev. 12-01-2011
  2. 2. Contents Introduction........................................................................................................................ 3 Summary: Startup Marketer’s First-Year Checklist ............................................................ 4 Marketing ........................................................................................................................... 5 Refining the Web site ..................................................................................................... 5 Differentiated positioning .............................................................................................. 6 Content ........................................................................................................................... 7 SEO ................................................................................................................................. 8 Case studies and References .......................................................................................... 9 Events ............................................................................................................................. 9 Which social media sites matter .................................................................................. 10 ©2011 by Ilya Mirman Connection with bloggers............................................................................................. 10 This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Lead generation............................................................................................................ 11 Marketing metrics ........................................................................................................ 12 NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Lead nurturing, lead intelligence .................................................................................. 14 Awards .......................................................................................................................... 16 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ Sales.................................................................................................................................. 16 Mapping the Sales process ........................................................................................... 16 Prospecting tools and selection criteria ....................................................................... 17 Leveraging lead intelligence in Sales ............................................................................ 18 Sales rep onboarding .................................................................................................... 19 Sales metrics ................................................................................................................. 19 Cross-functional ............................................................................................................... 20 Set Goals ....................................................................................................................... 20 Iterating & refining ....................................................................................................... 20 Know where to step on gas .......................................................................................... 20 Infrastructure refinement and upgrades...................................................................... 20 About the Author ............................................................................................................. 21A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 2
  3. 3. Introduction I recently passed the one year mark at my current startup. As I looked back at the things we’ve been able to do over the past year, and compared and contrasted that with the first year’s goals and efforts at my other two startups and those of my friends running marketing elsewhere, it occurred to me that there’s a great deal of overlap (probably because there’s a lot of commonality among our goals, efforts, and achievements). So, I figured I’d make a checklist of sorts – the things one has hopefully accomplished by the end of the startup’s first year in the marketplace. To some extent it’s a follow-up to my earlier eBook, “Building the Marketing Plan: A Blueprint for Startups.” Though this time around, it’s less about putting together a plan, and more about proposing a specific criteria for evaluating progress during, and at the end of, the first year. This is by no means a definitive guide or a comprehensive list, but rather a proposal for what might be reasonable for a startup to accomplish, and questions you probably want to answer, within the first year. (And of course, depending on your specific situation, some of these may be much harder/easier, and more/less important than others.)A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 3
  4. 4. Summary: Startup Marketer’s First-Year ChecklistA Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 4
  5. 5. Marketing Website Redesign Tips from HubSpot: Refining the Web site For more, check out this webinar on the science of website redesign I’ve found that the first year of a startup’s life provides a great and timely opportunity to test, revise, upgrade the web site. After all, though your team probably has all sorts of hypotheses about the right messaging, content, calls-to-action, you will learn a ton once you’re live, in the marketplace. And chances are, there will be at least a few surprises. So, some of the questions worth considering along the way are: • Who are the primary roles (or “personas”) you’re targeting with content on the site? • What content do you have for these personas? • Depending on their stage in the sales process (Information gathering? Evaluating products? Understanding your key advantages?) – are you providing this content, and is it easy to find? • What are your calls-to-action? Do you want people to raise their hand for a demo? Download a free trial? • Which pages are popular - and what does that tell you about what visitors are doing? • Which important pages are NOT popular, and why? Content? Layout? Navigation? • And based on all this – are revising/updating/testing on a regular basis?Use analytics (in this case, HubSpot) to gain insights into your web site’s assets:the inbound links, which content is most popular, etc. A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 5
  6. 6. Differentiated positioning Hopefully, by the end of the first year, you’ve had a chance to zero in on messaging/positioning that works: it’s compelling to prospects, and is differentiated in the market. Moore’s Positioning Statement Template • User personas: who are the primary target users and decision makers, for whom you’re crafting your product, your messaging, your content – the “archetypal For (target customers) person whom you want your marketing to reach”? It’s almost never just one Who (have the following problem) persona, nor can you realistically do a good job with more than three or four. If Our product is a (describe the product or solution) you’re selling to businesses (B2B), it might be the end user (e.g., sysadmin, That provides (cite the breakthrough capability) mechanical design engineer, accounting clerk) and the principal decision maker Unlike (reference competition), (director of IT, engineering manager, CFO). If you’re selling to consumers (B2C), Our product/solution (describe the key point of where the user and decision makers are one and the same, it’s still useful to identify competitive differentiation) a couple of the key personas. For example, if you’ve built a photo sharing site, different product features and marketing messages may appeal to Gen Xers , versus recent retirees. Example: Moore’s positioning for SGI (during SGI’s • Positioning statement: Geoffrey Moore’s seminal book Crossing the Chasm has heyday) been a bible for countless startups. Moore’s template for a positioning statement forces the startup to have laser focus around who your product is for, what For movie producers and others problem it’s solving, what the breakthrough capability is, and what the leading Who depend heavily on post-production special effects, competitive alternative is. Certainly your marketing will be broader – reaching Silicon Graphics provides computer workstations multiple segments, promoting multiple benefits, and targeting more than one That integrate digital fantasies with actual film footage. competitor. Forcing yourself to narrow the focus with the positioning statement Unlike any other vendor of computer workstations, helps avoid wishy-washy schizophrenic marketing, where depending on where you SGI has made a no-compromise commitment to meeting look, you can’t tell what the hell a product does, for whom, and why you should film-makers post-production needs. bother. • Mission statement: While the positioning statement is immensely useful, it’s primarily an internal document –a compass keeping you on track. On the other hand, the mission statement is indeed for public consumption – a brief statement of the essence of the company. Ideally, this will be closely connected to the elevator pitch for the product.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 6
  7. 7. Content Some questions regarding the content of your site: • Do you have a blog you regularly publish on? Are you using webinars? Videos? • Is your content mostly about your products, or helpful/educational material regarding your prospects’ problems? What’s popular on your site? What do your competitors most successful content to attract inbound links, traffic, leads? (Fortunately, there’s all sorts of tools to figure this out.) • What’s popular? What’s not? Why? What are you doing about it? • Do you have content for each stage of the sales process, from your customer’s perspective? E.g., initial info gathering, key reasons to choose your product, ROI, product evaluation, a pilot deployment, standardization, etc. Content creation is a central element of a startup’s inbound marketing strategy, with the ability to transform the entire customer acquisition model. Inbound marketing is a way of getting found by prospects, with the following primary elements: creating remarkable content, optimizing that content for search engines, and promoting this content through social media. Unlike paid traffic – which disappears when you shut off the spending, inbound marketing content is a gift that keeps on giving, building your barrier to entry. There’s a ton of excellent resources on the topic online, so I’ll just add Publish not only a blog, but every form of content that your a couple observations and suggestions: target customer will enjoy. For example, the team at HubSpot publish a blog, a podcast (www.HubSpot.tv), videos, photos, 1) It’s interesting that a ton of startups have at best a beautiful website, but little presentations, and even a book. And this content – providing content that attracts traffic and links. In the first year of your startup, there’s ample tips, best practices, industry information – is useful regardless of opportunity to start publishing content, experiment, see what sticks, rinse and whether the reader is using HubSpot’s product. repeat. 2) One common question is, what is the right content to publish? One of the best things I’ve heard on this is, “nobody cares about your products – people care about their problems.” So look beyond brochures and white papers, and think about creating content that’ll help your target customers solve their problems. 3) One cool thing about inbound marketing is that once you figure out what’s of interest to folks, you can repurpose content in a variety of ways. For example, a blog post can be leveraged in an e-Book, a short video, provide the basis for a tutorial, etc.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 7
  8. 8. SEO Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key vehicle for your website being found online. Answers to the following questions will help you craft an SEO strategy: • Do you know what terms matter in your industry? • What terms do your prospects search for? • What search terms do your competitors target with pay-per-click (PPC) ads? • What are the traffic volumes of these keywords? • What is the difficulty in ranking organically for these? These days, there’s a bunch of free (or nearly free) tools for figuring this out quickly (e.g., KeywordSpy and SpyFu). The sooner you figure this out, the sooner you can start building your SEO-based traffic magnet. Like so much about startup marketing, this is an ongoing process. Over time, as you build up your SEO “mojo” (your authority according to Google and the other search engines), you can start to reach higher, pick more popular terms and develop content to rank for them. Identify and refine terms to target Web analytics tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot software will allow you to identify which organic search terms are already driving traffic to your website. These keywords will provide a good baseline of Analyze results and Start building core keywords and provide you with a list of keywords and SEO /PPC content for target performance results that you can benchmark your future SEO efforts landscape terms against. Measure your ranking for these termsA Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 8
  9. 9. Case studies and References • How many case studies do you have? • Do they: o Cover the key markets you serve? o Cover the key usage scenarios? o Describe the key benefits in both qualitative and quantitative terms? o Have return on investment (ROI) metrics? o Drive much traffic to your site? • How broadly do you use them? o Press releases? o On your web site, as both detailed case studies and quotes? o Customer video testimonials? o In webinars? o Live presentations by your customers at industry events? o To take the occasional call from a prospect considering your solution? o Etc. After all, one of the most powerful sales/marketing tools is customers helping spread the word about the problems they solved, and the benefits they received, from your product/service. Events Depending on your business, tradeshows and conferences may provide an opportunity for generating leads, driving awareness, and helping establish your company as a thought leader. These may include large conferences, tradeshows, or small user group events. You may find it useful to compile a database and apply a consistent, rigorous criteria to select which events might make sense to attend as an exhibitor, speaker, or networker. • Which events matter? • What is the event attendance? • Is there an opportunity to present at a session? • Are your competitors there? • What is the total cost to participate? • What is the expected lead volume?A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 9
  10. 10. Which social media sites matter • What are the important sites your prospects use to find and share information? • Where are your competitors seeing traction? • How widely used are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn in your segment? • Which sites drive traffic? How does that convert to leads, customers? • How important are content sites like SlideShare, YouTube Connection with bloggers • Do you know who are the influential bloggers in your space? • Do you have a relationship with them? • Do you read their blog posts? • Do you comment on their blogs, participate in the online conversations? • How frequently do you reach out? How often do you brief them?Using tools like HubSpot and Salesforce.com, you can get end-to-end analytics • Do they write about you?for each traffic source’s conversion rates (traffic  leads  customers) As marketing strategist David Meerman Scott says, “Social media is a cocktail party”: “Viewing the Web as a sprawling city with social media as a cocktail party helps to make sense of the best ways for marketers to use the tools of social media. How do you act in such a situation? • Do you go into a large gathering filled with a few acquaintances and tons of people you do not know and shout "BUY MY PRODUCT"? • Do you go into a cocktail party and ask every single person you meet for a business card before you agree to speak with them? • Do you listen more than you speak? • Are you helpful, providing valuable information to people with no expectation of something tangible in return? • Do you try to meet every single person or do you have a few great conversations? • Or do you avoid the social interaction of cocktail parties all together because you are uncomfortable in such situations? …So go ahead and join the party. But think of it as just that – a fun place where you give more than you get. But what you get in return are lasting friendships, many The social web is growing every day….where are YOUR prospects which lead to business opportunities.” and customers hanging out? David Meerman Scott, 4/30/2009 A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 10
  11. 11. Lead generation Lead generation results vary widely, heavily driven by factors such as the quality of the list, the offer, the creative, how frequently you’ve “hit” the list, etc. Hopefully, by the end of your first year in the market, you’ve done enough pilots and experiments to have answers to many of these questions: • What is the cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale for each lead source? • What is the conversion rate from lead to opportunity? To closed deal? • Given the conversion rates, what lead flow rate (e.g., new leads/week) does your sales team need? • Do you have lead gen offers for each stage of the sales process, addressing the prospect’s concerns, questions and motivations at that stage? • Which of your lead gen programs would you repeat? Invest more in? Scrap? Though I’m a huge fan of inbound marketing, I’ve seen a lot of value in doing some outbound marketing, at least early on. Inbound often takes months to generate results – perhaps longer than you have to make your first sales, start figuring out and Tip #1: Look at each program individually, for detailed insights; optimizing your sales process, and building the right tools and content. So outbound Tip #2: But also, look at the overall categories, because you may see programs – e.g., direct mail and email, pay-per-click (PPC), newsletter sponsorship – interesting macro trends (e.g., that PPC campaigns perform better than provide an opportunity to achieve a couple things: tradeshows) 1) Allow you to pressure test list sources: Brainstorm a list of the possible list Tip #3: Excel’s conditional formatting is a quick way to see the stack rank – what did well, what didn’t. sources (e.g., trade publications, or consumer-focused vertical pubs) and job titles or demographics to test. 2) Test several offers: Thinking about the steps of the sales process, you’ll Lead Cost / Deal probably want to have offers that help prospects at each step – addressing the particular questions and overcoming the hurdles. So early on, there might be a $5,000 need for an information kit with valuable tips, or a brief demo that lets them $4,000 dream; later on, once you’ve earned the right to ask for more time, you might $3,000 offer an e-Book or white paper; and so on. You won’t know ahead of time $2,000 what might really resonate, so experiment, and quickly. $1,000 3) Don’t be the company that – 6 months after shipping product – just has a white paper behind a lead form. $- PPC Direct Mail Tradeshow Total $693 $1,676 $4,692A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 11
  12. 12. Marketing metrics Without metrics, we are dead meat. The good news is that it’s increasingly easy to measure nearly anything, much of it with free (or almost free) tools. Every business is different, so while there’s no universally-applicable list of what to measure and with what depth, there is a relatively short list of metrics that are actionable, and collectively paint a reliable picture: • Traffic – What is the volume, and growth rate? Where is it coming from? What content is most popular? • Leads – Which programs/sources/offers are driving leads? • Conversions – What is your conversion rate of traffic to leads? Leads to opportunities? Opportunities to sales? What is the cost of customer acquisition (more on that one later). What are your best landing pages? How do your landing pages’ conversion rates compare with best-in-class sites? • Competitors – How do all the key players stack up in terms of traffic, reach, inbound links, key words rankings? And you might want to drill down, looking beyond the aggregate stats. For example, in addition to looking at the big picture of monthly traffic/leads/opportunities pipeline, what might be particularly actionable is figuring out which content drove interesting volume of traffic and inbound links; or which community site drove visitors that ultimately had higher conversion rates. Some great tools are: Google Analytics; the integrated analytics in HubSpot; and specialized tools such as ClickTale to really examine your visitors’ behavior, or Visible Measures for web video metrics.With analytics, you can get an end-to-end view of your business – seewhat’s working, what’s not – data you can then act on. A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 12
  13. 13. Modern marketing analytics tools make it nearly effortless to not only see the big picture (traffic volume, conversion rates, etc.) but also drill down as deep as needed – e.g., stats for an individual inbound link, a specific call-to-action button, a specific email blast.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 13
  14. 14. Lead nurturing, lead intelligence • What are the steps your prospects go through in learning about, evaluating, purchasing and deploying your product? • What are the logical content, offers, calls-to-action you can offer along the way? • Are you using any automation and intelligence in automating some of the interactions with the prospect? • What are the click-through for your lead nurturing offers? • Is there any evidence of lead nurturing positively impacting sales (e.g., close rates, time-to-close? When I ran Marketing at SolidWorks, I had the fortune to work with David Skok (Matrix Venture Partners), who was on our board. Before becoming a venture capitalist, David was a serial entrepreneur – so between his own experiences and that of his portfolio companies, he saw first-hand many best (and worst) practices. Out of this experience, he drummed into us some excellent strategies and tactics around building a sales and marketing machine. With HubSpot’s lead nurturing, you can easily create, test, and launch campaigns; and move leads from one campaign to another. At JBoss, David and the team mapped out their sales process - and by looking at it from the point of view of the customer, they could identify the CONCERNS and MOTIVATIONS at each step (see figures on next page). Once this process is understood, you are in a position to design the marketing and sales tools, techniques, and a leadFrom “Lessons from Leaders: How JBoss did it” by David Skok nurturing program to address your prospects’ concerns and motivations at each step.(And check out other articles on his blog, www.forentrepreneurs.com) The JBoss team treated it as an engineering system – one that can be designed, analyzed and optimized.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 14
  15. 15. “Using the methodology, we worked to understand the customers’ mindset and motivations at these key steps in the sales cycle, and looked at the tools available to motivate them to do what we wanted.” (From “Lessons from Leaders: How JBoss did it” by David Skok)Tools to move customersthrough specific stages(From “Lessons from Leaders:How JBoss did it”)Automated lead nurturing canstreamline delivery of many ofthese tools and content. A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 15
  16. 16. Awards Winning awards might give you some degree of bragging rights and help raise awareness about your company and solution. Sometimes it gives you a leg up; other times, it just puts you at parity. Either way, awards are something often worth pursuing for a startup. With that in mind: • What are the awards that might matter? What are your competitors bragging about? • What are the possible categories and types of awards to go after? (There’s awards for individuals, for companies, for products, for campaigns, etc.) • What are the awards the most successful companies in your field are going after? • Knowing you won’t win many of them, are you going broad enough? • What are you doing to win the relevant ones? o Do you have good award write-ups? Have you refined the applications based on which ones win vs. lose? o Who is on the decision panel? o Have you briefed them along the way? Sales Mapping the Sales process Very early on, it’s critical to figure out what the sales process looks like – after all, you will likely need to eliminate major hurdles and bottlenecks in order to scale your business from the first 10 sales, to the next 100 and beyond. So on an ongoing basis, you must engineer your marketing and sales process with as much rigor as you engineerIdentifying the sales process and filling in the gaps: your product. Having answers to these key questions helps: 1. Map out the sales steps; 2. Identify the bottlenecks, hurdles, and key questions; • What are the steps the prospect goes through? 3. Develop sales tools and processes to address bottlenecks. • What are the corresponding concerns and motivations at each step? • what are you providing to address these at each step?(And of course, as the product matures and the market evolves, • How long is each step? What is the gap between these steps?there’s a corresponding evolution of the sales/marketing steps, tools • What can be done to reduce the calendar time and effort? E.g., sales tools,and metrics.) marketing materials, marketing programs, sales workflow?A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 16
  17. 17. Prospecting tools and selection criteria Sales teams live and die by the quality of the leads they call on. Though you hopefully you have an ever-growing amount of marketing-generated leads, chances are that if you’re in a growing business, it’ll feel like a never-ending treadmill, and you’ll be adding inside sales professionals at a faster rate than marketing can generate leads. (Yes, there are the rare and notable exceptions – companies that have insane inbound lead volumes, or companies totally committed to the “freemium” model where inside sales reps focus 100% on upgrading downloaders of their free products.) In particular, the economics of “high velocity” (a.k.a. “low friction”) sales models are extremely sensitive to the quality of cold-call lists, for the following reasons: 1) The average sales deal is relatively small 2) Sales expense makes up the majority of the cost of customer acquisition (CoCA) 3) With cold-calling – even targeted cold-calling – you’re typically looking for a needle in a haystack, with somewhere over 99% of the calls not contributing to a sale. Success typically rests on that razor-thin difference in quality: a list that’s “99% bad” might drive profitable sales, whereas “99.9% bad” might be a giant waste of time, because the former has 1% quality leads, whereas the latter has 0.1%. Whether you’re using list brokers, online sources like Hoovers or iSell, or online directories such as Jigsaw, ZoomInfo, and LinkedIn, there’s many sources for finding prospects to call on. They all have pros and cons, but regardless of the source, everything starts from the list criteria you use. So – how do you zero in on the right criteria? One technique for systematically zeroing in on an improved selection criteria is Results from a typical cold-call list experiment as follows: For a technique for systematically zeroing in on the correct 1. Establish the selection criteria selection criteria, check out: 2. Identify variables to measure (e.g., conversion rates, deal close rates, ASP) 3. Establish a baseline “Refining Cold-Call Lists for High Velocity Sales Operations” 4. Design your experiment 5. Execute the experiment 6. Analyze the data And like so many other things, this is a never-ending process – there’s always more variables to test, hypotheses to explore.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 17
  18. 18. Leveraging lead intelligence in Sales • Why do prospects come to your site? What do they do upon returning visits? • What demographic info can you add to the record to make your marketing efforts more relevant, and sales efforts more effective? • Are you progressively adding automation to leverage this? The more you know about prospects, the more you can tailor their experience throughout the buying process. There are several sources of data worth collecting (and there’s a variety of tools that help you do this – HubSpot, LinkedIn, Hoovers, iSell, Google Analytics, LeadLander, etc.): 1. The content that originally brought your prospect to your site; 2. Behavior on your site (frequency and timing of, and content viewed during, returning visits); 3. Demographic data that can be appended to the lead record (e.g., title and contact info, company demographic data, etc.); 4. Response to lead nurturing campaigns. It might seem like a tall hill to climb, but I’ve found there’s a reasonable progression from a coarse and manual process, to a more automated, fine-tuned process: 1. Manual: The quickest win is simply putting the lead intelligence into the hands of Sales. There’s a variety of CRM plug-ins that make this possible – for example, the LinkedIn and HubSpot plug-ins for Salesforce.com. Right from the lead or contact record inside your CRM tool, your Sales team gets a much richer view of the prospect. 2. Lead grading: Over time, you can see which factors – both behavioral and demographic – correlate with sales success, and build a Lead Grade that’s relevant for your business (Salesforce.com and other CRM/SFA tools allow this fairly easily). And based on the lead grade, you can prioritize and steer sales follow-up. 3. Automated lead nurturing: The customization and automation doesn’t stop in the Sales department! Marketing can do all sorts of cool things with increasingly sophisticated automation. Automated nurturing programs can be driven by all sorts of factors reflecting the prospect’s behavior and demographics.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 18
  19. 19. Sales rep onboarding • Do you have a training curriculum to bring new sales reps up to speed? Covering your industry; your prospects’ key issues and challenges, your solution, your sales process? • Is there certification for the different levels? (E.g., for demand generation teams, versus account reps that present to customers) Are there periodic refreshers, and/or an ongoing program of education? It goes without saying that the sooner a new Sales team member understands your space and solution, the sooner they can become productive. (And, I’ve found this particularly important for the “high velocity,” low-touch sales model – where the new team members might have little experience selling a product like yours, or even selling, period.) Sales metrics Among the many metrics worth measuring for a sales operation, here’s a few that marketers should have an increasingly accurate sense of: • Sales cycle (stages, effort and calendar time); Conversion rates from stage to stage • Lead-to-opportunity conversion rates; and deal close rates, by lead source • Average sales price (ASP) • Metrics per rep: dials, opportunities, deals closed, avg quota attainment, revenue per rep, avg. lifetime value of customers closed by the rep • A key metric that for start-ups turns out to be one the biggest drivers of success or failure is the cost of customer acquisition. The sooner you can build at least a rough model of this, the sooner you can make adjustments in your business – for example, figuring out the minimum deal size that results in a profitable customer. As part of this effort, it is particularly useful to establish, early on, which metrics correlate with sales. Identifying leading indicators in the sales cycle that have a predictable rate of converting to sales is invaluable for planning and driving the business. For example, if on average, one out of 4 demos typically convert to a sale 3 months later, this gives us not only a great visibility for forecasting, but also a great metric to drive through sales and marketing activities.A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 19
  20. 20. Cross-functional The three critical phases of a startup: Set Goals 1. Finding product/market fit Sounds obvious, but some marketers forget to connect marketing activities with some 2. Finding a scalable and repeatable sales model agreed-upon, shared business goals. Without at least some connection to the goal (e.g., 3. Scaling the business “drive more leads,” “prospect self-education” or “”) discussions can easily devolve into (From “Setting the Startup Accelerator Pedal” by David Skok) vague and subjective debates (“the web site is ugly” or “tradeshow A is better than B”). Iterating & refining One theme common to many of the points above is about the importance of experimenting, changing, upgrading, refining on an ongoing basis. Particularly in the first year of a start-up, you’re in a race to figure out how to improve key metrics like lead volume, deal close rates, deal size, lifetime value of a customer, and many others. Every part of the sales and marketing operation lends itself to this: web site content; calls to action; lead gen programs; sales scripts; and infrastructure. Know where to step on gas And finally: Part of our job as marketers is to identify the programs and investments that have a positive return, to be ready when the business allows it. So within a short number of months, we should be able to answer the following questions: • Which lead generation programs would you repeat? What is the best cold-call list selection criteria? • What roles would you hire, what part of the organization would you expand? Infrastructure refinement and upgrades Are you increasingly leveraging technology to run and analyze your business? Are youThese days, you can rapidly progressively automating more of your sales, marketing, and support functions?build an increasinglysophisticated infrastructure Early in the start-up’s life, you need to choose marketing and sales platforms. There areto support marketing, sales a variety of good tools and technologies out there, though I’m quite partial to a set-upand support. that integrates Salesforce.com and HubSpot. Between these two products, you can quickly and easily build the infrastructure that’ll enable you to have a web presence, get found online, convert visitors into leads, nurture leads, and manage the sales process from start to finish. And depending on what’s relevant for your business, there’s a lot of useful supporting tools, technologies and plug-ins available. A Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 20
  21. 21. About the Author Ilya Mirman has spent the past decade building, marketing, and supporting enterprise software products. Most recently, Ilya was VP of Marketing at VMTurbo, a venture-backed cloud startup. Previously, as VP of Marketing at Cilk Arts (a venture-backed MIT spin-off acquired by Intel), Ilya wore multiple hats (marketing, sales, support) and led all marketing efforts for the company from 8 months before product launch through company acquisition. As VP of Marketing at Interactive Supercomputing (a venture-backed MIT spin-off acquired by Microsoft) he built and ran the marketing, customer support, and application engineering organizations. As VP of Marketing at SolidWorks (the worlds leading vendor of mechanical design software) Ilya helped establish SolidWorks as the standard in 3D mechanical design software, used by millions of engineers worldwide. Ilya holds a BSME from the University of Massachusetts, an MSME from Stanford University, and an MBA from MITs Sloan School. Earlier in his career Ilya designed Performing with Guns N’ Roses tribute band Mr. Brownstone lasers for high-speed fiber optic communication systems, worked on NASAs Mars at Eugene Mirman’s book release party. Mission, and washed dishes at Souper Salad. He enjoys jamming with friends, concert photography, and San Pellegrino mineral water. To connect with Ilya: Blog: www.IlyaMirman.com Mirman Photography: photos.ilyamirman.com Twitter: @IlyaMirmanA Year in the Life of a Startup: A Marketer’s Checklist www.IlyaMirman.com p. 21

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