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Linear or Declining Sales Growth Got You in a Funk? Go Talk to Your Developers…

Jim Ettig
April 12th, 2019

So you’ve spent countless hours on sales enablement to help improve your sales teams conversion rates and deal size. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on sales tools to make your team more effective and efficient. You’ve spent days/months searching for that next “rockstar rep”. You’ve optimized your CRM to help surface hot leads and implemented a sales process to help you achieve predictable outcomes from your sales metrics.

Your marketing team is doing all they can to drive leads to the top of the funnel for the sales team. You’re A/B testing content and landing pages to improve SEO and signups. Your marketing automation solution is blasting emails high, wide and deep. You’re attending expensive trade shows and events. You’re analyzing all the marketing channels to see how effective your marketing spend and content is performing. You’re hiring PR contractors and content folks to help drive more quality leads and expand your brand.

But at some point, your company hits an inflection point and the growth starts to slow. Some of the key KPIs like signups, MQL’s, and new business wins start to go linear or decline and then the panic kicks in. Once this happens you increase marketing spend in certain areas, double down on sales hiring, ramp up the sales enablement…..yet there is still no improvement.

You then walk into your weekly e-Staff meeting and pull up the same KPI’s you review each week to see the health of your business. The monitor lights up the pretty trend graphs displaying your key metrics:

  1. Site Visitors
  2. Signups
  3. Top of Funnel Conversions
  4. MQL’s
  5. Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rates
  6. Opportunity Win Rates
  7. MoM, QoQ, and YoY Revenue Growth
  8. New Business Wins
  9. QoQ Average Sales Price
  10. Gross Margins
  11. Opportunity Funnel and Forecast

As everyone sits in the war room the head honcho asks, “What’s causing our growth to slow across our top of funnel? It’s having a direct impact on our revenue. What are we doing about it?”

Does this sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

How Poor Performance Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Here’s something that may come as a surprise to you: your answer to help solve the top of funnel and revenue growth problem is already working at your company — and it may not take them that long to address it.

No, it’s not your “rockstar sales rep” or your amazing marketing content person. It’s not asking for more budget to spend on a new channel to then hope and pray you’re going to get an ROI.

Ready for this? The answer lies within your developer organization. Yes, you read that correctly! Your developers may have the silver bullet you’ve been looking for! Let me explain ….

I’ve been working in the application performance space for over a decade now. I currently work at Gatsby Inc, a company that is focusing on providing developers a modern framework to build blazing fast websites/apps with out-of-the box, built-in performance.

I know first-hand the positive impacts that website and application performance has on a business’s bottom line from the 10’s of 1000’s of happy customers I’ve worked with over the years. And don’t just take my word on this: look at numerous studies that illustrate the direct negative impact that poor website performance has on your business.

Studies have shown the following to be true for conversion rates and page abandonment:

  • 47% expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less
  • 40% of users will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • 1 second delay (or 3 seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by 16%
  • 4-second delay in page response results in 25% abandonment rate
  • 10-second delay will often make users leave a site immediately

How does that impact revenue?

  • If your e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.
  • 1 second of load lag time would cost Amazon \$1.6 billion in sales per year

Are you starting to see the picture of how poor site performance will dramatically hurt your top of funnel, and then ultimately your sales?

How Commercial & Engineering Orgs Can Work Together to Boost Performance and the Bottom Line

Breaking Down Organizational Knowledge Silos

So why does poor performance persist? Simply put: organizational knowledge silos. Commercial and engineering organizations don’t know (yet!) why and how they need to collaborate together to improve performance:

  1. Commercial leaders feel it’s outside their domain. Commercial Executives and Leaders feel they don’t have the domain expertise to know what questions to ask or advice to give to their CIO, CTO, and development team in order to optimize their site’s performance.

  2. Developers don’t know it’s a priority. Commercial Executives and Leaders simply assume their development teams are always using the best tools for performance and treating performance as a key initiative at all times. In reality, development organizations are responsive to and prioritize the needs vocalized by the commercial organization. If development teams don’t know performance is important to sales and marketing, they won’t prioritize it accordingly.

  3. Organizations don’t track performance as a key metric. Commercial Executives and Leaders often don’t think about what a huge impact site/app performance could have on the KPI’s they care about most, therefore, they never thought to focus on it. You’d be surprised how many companies I talk with don’t have someone owning performance as a key metric.

I feel strongly that there needs to be a tighter bond between the commercial and engineering organizations.

Questions to Ask in Your Organization

You should always be thinking about what tools or technologies are out there that could improve performance because improving your website/app performance WILL have a positive impact on the KPI’s you care about most.

Some questions to ask others in your organization:

  • Why isn’t our CMOs, CROs, VPs Sales/Marketing working closer with the developers, CIO and CTO on ways to optimize your website or application performance, since the studies clearly show the positive impact it has on the things they care about most like revenue, leads, adoption, churn, bounce rates, etc?

  • Why is our website and application performance only measured, monitored and discussed amongst the Developer and Operation teams and not the commercial teams? Should our VP of Sales and VP of Marketing be measuring the correlation between site performance and the core KPIs you look at everyday like leads, revenue and bounce rates?

Staying Up To Date With Changing Technology

There are a multitude of things happening every day that you need to be on top of — because if you’re not, then poor performance is going to bite you sooner than later.

With the rise of new technology evolving at breakneck speeds, new devices rolling out every day, and new emerging markets springing up overnight, 50% of all site visits today are on mobile devices. And when your users are out and about, their network connection fluctuates, performance suffers, and many of them bounce. (When’s the last time a website loaded fast on your phone when you were out and about?)

If these assumptions are true then I hope the following will help you bridge the divide.

The Answer Is Inside Your Organization

The great news is that most likely you already have the right people within your company to help improve the KPI’s you care about most (revenue, leads, bounce rates, signups, customer experience etc.).

What you may not have is the right questions. That’s what I would like to help you with.

Developers love having a great developer experience. You may be wondering: what does that mean? In short, they need tools to do their job to provide amazing outputs, the outputs you want too. The tools they use to have the right functionality, stable, easy to use and have clarity.

Many developers do not have a great developer experience though. They are using old school monolithic CMS’s to create websites. They are using old frameworks for development that are slow and clunky. They are frustrated with the time it takes to get something deployed to production because they are waiting on other dependencies. The list goes on and on. To drive home this point, let’s say you gave your sales team an Excel spreadsheet to use instead of a CRM. Do you think they would like the “sales experience”? I think you get the point now. . Many would like to change but they may not have a strong enough voice to make that change. This is where you come in.

Generating Momentum to Create Change

So: what can you do?

  1. Get out of your office and go introduce yourself (always a good start!)

  2. Let them know what your KPI goals are and ask them how they feel they could help. Explain what you know about the positive benefits of site/app performance. (they love to help and will bend over backwards to do so!)

  3. Talk to them about the benefits that performance has on your goals and what it means to you, your team and the overall company. (not everyone connects the dots to the work they are doing and how important of a role they play within the company. IMHO, the developers are your Kings and Queens of the castle…so treat them as such!)

  4. Have them explain to you your current performance metrics so you know where you stand today, therefore, you’ll now have a benchmark for optimization.

  5. Ask them about their current toolset and developer experience. (Listen closely to what they are saying. Retaining developers in today’s world is paramount, and if they aren’t happy you should find out what will make them happy ASAP).

  6. Do they feel like the tools they have in place today will allow them to effectively and efficiently optimize your website/app for better performance?

  7. How do they feel about working with the current CMS you may have in-house today? If they are not pleased, what would they ideally like to use and why?

  8. Do they have the tools/technology in place to allow them to ensure your site/app easily loads across any device? What about poor network connections? The abandonment rate for mobile and other handheld devices is astonishing with poor performance. Check your own sites mobile speed and compare it to your competitors’ here.

  9. Ask if there are ways to improve performance while drastically reducing infra spend. There are many ways today to completely eliminate your backend servers and gain amazing performance — while increasing your gross margin!

  10. Recognize them often. They work endless hours and are always looking for ways to learn more to better themselves and the company.

  11. Be their champion of change. They need someone in their corner to get them the tools and technologies they want to be working with. Chances are if this happens you’re also going to benefit bigtime!

  12. Start sharing how their hard work optimizing your site/app is positively impacting your company’s commercial goals.

  13. Bring in beer, pie, tea and/or coffee. Because who doesn’t love beer, pie, tea or coffee?

Work Closely With Developers

So… I encourage the C-Suite and VP’s of Sales and Marketing to work closer with your developers and focus on ways to improve your site/app performance. Performance needs to become a first-class citizen within your company if it’s not already today. If you do so, then I’m confident you that pretty little chart you look at each week will start to go up and to the right again.

PS – If you happen to be a developer who read this and you want to use new tools/technologies, then I encourage you to talk with your commercial orgs about how you feel you could impact the KPI’s I mentioned in this post. You’ll get their attention if you feel you can improve the things they care about by improving your site/app performance. Chances are you may gain an internal champion to help you get the tools/technology you’ve been longing for once you do.

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Loves learning how our customers benefit from our service. Wine Snob. Dog Owner. Music lover.

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