For episode two of our new "Outthinkers" video blog, we spoke with Steve Power, Chief Revenue Officer for BigCommerce, who breaks down for us five key lessons you can apply to more rapidly grow your online revenue.
Watch the 13-minute video here:
My team and I are gearing up for an all-hands-on-deck meeting this week to define a strategy to grow online revenue. Instead of just delivering large, bespoke consulting engagements, we see an opportunity to break down our IP into bite-sized, self-service, online products that will enable us to better serve the smaller, fast-growing companies we love to work with.
So it is no coincidence that at midnight in my kitchen, when I should be asleep like my kids, I’m finalizing the video I conducted with Steve, who is one of the world’s leading experts at growing online revenue. BigCommerce is revolutionizing online retailing, arming mom-and-pop entrepreneurs with the capabilities to compete with Amazon and attracting the interest of investors like AOL founder Steve Case. If anyone can teach us something about growing online revenue, it’s the person responsible for growing revenue for the leading company that helps entrepreneurs grow their online revenue.
Here is Steve’s (now not-so-secret) formula: five tips for rapidly growing your revenue.
Prepare for "the lag"
Your revenue won’t really take off until you have set the dials right on numerous aspects such as:
- Your product attributes
- Target market size
- Speed of delivery
- Services around your product
During the "lag" you and your team will be doing lots of tinkering until you get it right. Like an orchestra tuning itself pre-concert, your efforts may seem like a cacophony and your team may want to quit. But know this "lag" is just part of the process. Once you have all the strings tuned, your revenue will begin to soar.
Attract the right culture
If you arrive at the right offer, but then not the right culture, this will limit your potential. When you have the right culture, people are taking the right actions, producing better results, and attracting better people. It’s difficult to convert someone into the right culture if they don’t fit from the beginning. It’s easier to only take people in who will live your culture. So carefully monitor who you bring in. Don’t give a job to that superstar who will probably produce great results but will not live your values.
Follow a process to "get it right"
So you are ready for the lag and have the right culture in place. It’s now time to fine tune those strings and get it right. Steve outlined five steps you should take to do this:
- Ask "Who is the customer?"
- Ask "What are their attributes?"
- Ask "What problem are we trying to solve for them?" Are they aware of the problem or not? Are they willing to pay to solve it or not?
- Ask "Where are the customers?" and think through what this means for how you should best distribute and service your product. For example, should you go through partners, and if so, who?
- Implement a process to rapidly go through iterations of trials and adjustments (see next tip for more detail).
Start with a tight rhythm, then loosen
In the old product launch world, you invested heavily in developing your product, defining your marketing campaign, and then you funded a big launch. But online you can make trials, learn, adjust, and try again through a rapid iteration process. To set the right pace for such iteration, start with a daily stand-up meeting. Look at the numbers, what is and is not working, what to change that day, then repeat the next morning.
As you get closer to "getting it right," you can hold those meeting weekly and then monthly. You lengthen the time as the business evolves.
Most execution models I have seen suggest you set one rhythm and keep it. What Steve is suggesting is that the right rhythm evolves with you.
Track three sets of metrics
In my blog last month, "How Your Dashboard Can Make Your Company Crash," which was one of our most popular of the year, I laid out Steve’s model for creating the right dashboard. I’ll summarize it here.
If you drive a car while just looking at the dashboard, you will crash. Similarly, you can’t look at just one time-frame when driving your business. You should consider at least three:
- Through the windshield: What is coming? What are customers blogging about you? How many hits are you getting? How is your customers’ satisfaction?
- The dashboard: What is happening? How many calls are you making? How many proposals are you issuing? What is your conversion rate?
- The rearview mirror: What are the results? What is your revenue, EBITDA, return on investment?
So there you have it. A proven model for rapidly growing your online sales.
First: Prepare yourself for the lag.
Second: Get your culture right.
Third: Follow a five-step iterative process to "get it right."
Fourth: Set up a tight review rhythm and loosen it as your business matures.
Fifth: Track three sets of metrics.
"Think bigger!" was Steve’s final piece of advice. As an entrepreneur from Australia, a country with a population the size of Texas, he limited his ambitions. Now living in Texas itself, looking out at 49 others states, being pushed on by big thinkers like Steve Case, Steve Power realizes the value of thinking even bigger.
[Image: Flickr user Nico Paix]