How to Scale #Acquisition, with Stan Massueras (Intercom)
This article includes key takeaways from Stan Massueras, Megan Killion, and William Holden’s talk on how to scale acquisition. You can view the full video on Youtube or check out the latest from our Scale series.
Stan is EMEA Sales Director at Intercom, and previously led sales teams at Facebook, Twitter and HP. Stan and his team have worked on seamlessly blending marketing and sales, at scale. Delving into traffic generation, lead conversion, and user activation, the Intercom team explain how growing startups can make the different steps of the customer journey work together as a whole — and kickstart further growth.
6 key best practices
Best practice #1: Go beyond acquisition
Today, acquiring users is easier than ever. Aim for engagement: continued use of the product over time is the difference between companies that fly and companies that die. Only through regular and prolonged use of your product do you stand a chance of absorbing marketing/sales/support costs and of becoming profitable. Intercom focused early on acquiring the right costumers, and helping them adopt the tool to make sure that their clients were getting value from day 1.
Best practice #2: Aim for the compound effect
Timeless content is informative, insightful and — most importantly — it retains a high degree of relevance through time. By focusing on this type of content, you can further differentiate yourself by speaking on topics that are relevant to your audience in a voice that is your own. You can also capitalize on the compounding effect that is particular to this type of content: by casting a wider and wider net with each new post, you can grow your audience and increase the amount of leads coming from your inbound marketing efforts.
Best practice #3: Contextualize your CTAs
Push actions that make sense to your users based on the type of content they are consuming. By only trying to convert leads who have showed sufficient intent, and by convincing them to do so in a way that is unobtrusive and pertinent given the content they are consuming, you can ensure that your content successfully treads the line between quality and bottom line conversions.
Best practice #4: Free up some time
To effectively scale your inbound sales efforts, start by rationalizing your reps’ time. By running a quick analysis, the Intercom sales team realized they were spending a disproportionate amount of time closing a relatively small portion of their revenue. This is fairly typical for any SaaS business starting out with an indiscriminate sales process. To scale, however, it’s necessary to segment your inbound leads and to run them through dedicated funnels. By adding a layer of automated lead qualification, Intercom was able to offer fast-paced sales for small accounts and deliver enterprise-level consultation to larger prospects — closing more deals with an equal sales headcount.
Best practice #5: Be timely, be personal
One of the most valuable insights to have come out of Intercom’s analysis of their customer base and interactions with sales was that — in addition to typical criteria like company size and industry — clients who had received a quick response (less than a couple hours) were closing much more. To make delivering that kind of timely, personalized responses feasible at scale: they leveraged the chat bubble that has made Intercom one of the most recognizable SaaS products on the market as well as a bank of personalized gifs and videos that Account Executives can easily upload to any chat with their clients.
Note: AEs each create a series of assets by use case or industry to easily give a personal touch, while never actually mentioning the client by name. This tactic is also used for outbounding: explicitly referencing the client and their product directly in the video, as well as serving personalized landing pages that illustrate Intercom’s abilities on the client’s site.
Best practice #6: Sign off
One of the underlying conditions for AEs to be capable of going deeper into personalization was to ensure that they weren’t encumbered by requests from clients to which they had already sold. The best way to do this for team Intercom has been to make the transition explicit, and to set clear expectations for the future. By sending a quick sign-off video, each AE refers their client to a new point of contact in the company and sets them up for success by listing the key points on which they’ll be able to help with their continued use of the product.
5 key mindsets
Mindset #1: No one cares what you do
Early on, Intercom focused on building a community. And the way they went about creating a base of followers was to address their audience’s main concern: not what Intercom does or what it builds, but the problem they are trying to solve. Doing so has made it easier to grab their prospects attention, and to later convert those prospects into clients.
Mindset #2: Content, then marketing
In your content production efforts, don’t consider your competitors in your space as the competition. Think of it instead as Netflix and other forms of content that people love to consume. That is the standard you need to attain if you want people to actively engage with the content (editorial, video, audio, any piece of content!) that you put out. If it’s not to that standard, consider the following:
Mindset #3: Make time for content
If content is a critical part of your business, then you need to find the time to do it. This is made easier when you consider your content as a group effort, rather than just a project by 2 or 3 members of your team. This not only facilitates meeting quantitative objectives, it also raises the qualitative threshold for your content. By bringing in team members with different perspectives, opinions, and expertises you can enrich your content with different voices and appeal to a larger target audience.
Mindset #4: Don’t spam
An all too common mistake for teams seeking to build an outbound strategy is to try to be too industrial. This usually ends up in cheap — and immediately recognizable — sales tactics like the “15 minute call” subject line amongst others. Instead of setting activity-based metrics like “number of emails sent” to your AEs, turn the problem on its head and consider delivering a more contextual, personal approach for each of your leads.
Mindset #5: Why you? Why now?
Borrowed from John Barrows’ playbook, the “why you why now” sales method requires you to ask those questions of yourself before you engage a lead. Taking the time to customize the pitch, empathize, and present the product in a way that is beneficial to the company you’re selling to seems obvious, but is often overlooked. Cultivate that mindset in your team, and make sure that each bit of promotional or sales content (whether it’s a cold email, an ad, or a call) presents a unique and timely advantage for the person you’re talking (or trying to talk) to.
About the speakers:
Formerly sales manager at Facebook and Twitter, Stan Massueras joined Intercom 1 year ago as EMEA Sales Director. He oversaw the structuring of the sales team and their processes to tackle Intercom’s scaling phase. Megan Killion is an Account Executive, bringing a marketing background to the team, and William Holden is Intercom’s Enterprise Account Executive. Follow Stan on Twitter.