Why a SaaS business needs a growth team and how do growth teams operate?

Mukil Ganesan
May 9 · 6 min read

High growth SaaS companies like Slack, Atlassian, SurveyMonkey have strong growth teams. The startups in the SaaS space are building growth teams during the early stages of their business. Driving growth for a SaaS product cannot be handled by a single person. Before getting into how to set up a growth team for your business, let’s know about why you need a dedicated team for growth.

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The product management (PM) team and the engineering team builds a stable product to meet the industry standards. Post-launch, the duo will work on fixing the issues and adding more valuable features to the product.

Meanwhile, the marketing team would let the word out to the world by leveraging the appropriate channels and ramping up PR activities. The business will start acquiring users, and customers. Recurring revenue generation begins after a few months and the marketing initiatives will be monitored and optimized for maximum conversions.

The product will look like it’s growing for the first couple of months. The Daily Active Users (DAU) would increase, minimal churn will be seen, signups and revenue would be stable.

Post that phase, growth would start slowing down. The PM, engineering and marketing teams would be putting in more effort across all the fronts. The PM team would be coming up with new feature updates which the engineering team would deploy in multiple sprints. The marketing team would introduce new campaigns to arrest churn and increase purchases.

But, still, the product would stop growing. The complete team would be blindfolded on finding the cause for the sluggish growth.

Source: Reforge, Andrew Chen.

Why and how did this happen?
What are the available solutions?
How to increase product usage exponentially?
How to generate stable revenue?
How to retain more users?

The growth team comes in to find answers for all these questions, build strategies around it, and eventually increase growth.


Brian Balfour, the former VP of Growth at HubSpot says,

“A growth team is a small, versatile, focused, data-driven and aggressive group of unique individuals, who are constantly pushing themselves to learn and execute new growth strategies, tactics, and techniques. The growth team blends people with engineering, design, product, and marketing backgrounds in one cohesive unit to work in quick iterative experiment cycles aimed at increasing growth rate.”

As Brian says, growth teams are highly agile and data-driven. Let’s have a look at the ideal roles and responsibilities of members of the growth team.

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Product Manager
The Product manager should be the one to direct the team members and play a key role in prioritizing, assigning, and executing the tasks.

Marketer
The Growth Marketer will be an expert in multiple marketing channels, segments, and work on pushing the marketing KPIs towards a positive trend.

Engineer
The Growth engineer will be a highly skilled, go-to person for executing the growth tasks which require engineering effort.

Visual Designer
The visual designer will handle the design aesthetics for the product UI and marketing collaterals.

Data Analyst
All the members of the growth team need to be analytics savvy. But, a data analyst would be instrumental in gathering, preparing, and analyzing the data to derive insights.


The Growth Cycle

Growth is a continuous process and all growth activities pass through each phase of the growth cycle.

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Data Analysis

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Analytics is the starting point of the growth activity cycle. The growth team needs to deeply analyze the data collected by the engineering, PM, and marketing teams and unlock rich insights by combining the data from all these sources. The whole user journey can be visualized, invaluable KPIs can be built, and the critical points in your funnel can be identified with this data.

A separate post for data analytics in growth teams is coming soon.

Ideation

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From the insights derived from the data analysis, the growth team needs to list down the ideas and brainstorm. Individuals of the growth team should pitch in their thoughts, debate on which ideas will deliver the best results. After thorough discussion, the team should finalize the set of ideas which they are going to take up to the next phase.

Action Items

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Now that the growth team has come up with considerable number of ideas, they need to decide on the series of action items. An action item can be as simple as changing the color of the CTA to complex tasks of formulating an onboarding flow. The complexity, dependancies, resources, tools, and the time required for each action item is defined and documented under a task name.

Prioritization

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This is one of the crucial phases in the growth cycle. The growth team needs to prioritize on the tasks. The team can’t go all out and execute all the tasks at the same time. That’s the recipe for a disaster. The growth lead needs to chart down which task should be taken on priority and who’ll be the stakeholders for that task.

Let’s assume most of your users are not completing the evaluation stage in your funnel. On the other hand, you have a controlled churn rate which meets the industry standards but, there are still opportunities to improve the numbers. In a scenario like this, the growth lead should highly prioritize the tasks on improving the number of users who complete the evaluation stage. The tasks on decreasing the churn can be labeled with less priority.

This is an obvious scenario. But, practically, the growth lead will be put in more complex situations to prioritize the tasks.

Execution

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This is the final stage on the growth funnel. The growth team will be running the experiments and collecting the data. An experiment might turn out to be a success or a failure. The success rate of an experiment will be communicated by the KPIs you’ve set. If the experiment meets your objective, it’s well and good. If not, you need to optimize by studying the inferences gained from data analysis.


In the ever-evolving SaaS business landscape, users are presented with numerous options. It’s indeed a challenge to generate signups, close deals, and retain customers. The users are exposed to a lot of marketing content every day, your competitors are striving to migrate your users to their platform, products are being enhanced with smart features and literally, a lot is happening. The growth team is the key to tackle the competition and grow your business in an organized way. Of course, growth professionals are the need of the hour.

Growth cannot be hacked in a single day. Growth can only be achieved by consistent efforts and systematic execution.


This post was originally published on www.mukilganesan.com. I’d love to have a conversation with you! Get in touch with me :)

Mukil Ganesan

Written by

Growth Marketer. Business Enthusiast. Blogger. Photographer. Designer — www.mukilganesan.com

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