What Is a Growth Team? (+ 7 Pro Tips for Building Your Own)

What do companies as different as Hubspot, Slack, Uber, Tesla, and Buffer all have in common?
Even though these companies span industries as diverse as marketing automation, ridesharing, and automotive, they each attribute much of their success in capturing market share to the power of growth teams

Growth teams offer a modern, lean, focused alternative to traditionally siloed departments. Instead of sales and marketing and customer success and product all existing in their own separate worlds, growth teams pull together creatives from all different domains to optimize each of the six levers of growth and drive sustainable business growth. 

But what is a growth team? What do they actually do? And, most importantly, how do you build a growth team at your organization? 

This article will answer all those questions and more. So, without further ado...

Growth teams tear down the silos that have plagued enterprises for decades. Traditionally, businesses relegate sales, marketing, customer success, and product to separate departments. Each department works autonomously on its own initiatives, tracks its own metrics, and mostly they ignore each other. This arrangement inevitably creates waste, in-fighting, and ultimately a poor user experience. 

Growth teams work differently. They have representation and buy-in from each department. They’re cross-functional and agile, able to quickly identify and reduce friction in the buyer’s journey. By unifying behind one primary metric, growth rate, the whole team stays aligned on solving the same problem and achieving the same goal.

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What Do Growth Teams Do?

Growth teams measure, track, and work to improve metrics associated with the six levers of growth, namely awareness, acquisition, activation, revenue, retention, and reputation. Larger organizations may have teams or employees focused on each specific growth lever at all times, while smaller teams will often work together to optimize one lever at a time. 

Typically, the growth team will meet on a regular cadence to discuss progress on active projects, evaluate performance and share notes about each stage of the customer journey, and build campaigns to address gaps and exploit opportunities. 

For example…
Your growth team determines they need to increase the number of monthly demo requests. After considering several potential growth marketing plays, they decide to optimize the demo request page, which gets good traffic but has a poor conversion rate. 

As they set out to improve the page, the sales leader shares the top three goals that most prospects hope to achieve during the call. These get added as bullet points in the copy. Then the success team leader chimes in the share that, of the five product features highlighted on the page, their ideal customers really only care about three. 

By improving the page to better address the goals, objections, and jobs to be done of their ideal customer profile, the growth team is able to double the conversion rate of the demo page, resulting in dozens more demos each month and significant revenue growth.

What Are the Roles of a Growth Team?

The most effective growth teams leverage the expertise of a variety of professionals. Typically, a growth team should have representation from every stage of the customer journey. Your team should also include all the creatives necessary to make improvements to marketing collateral, website, and product. 

A growth team will typically have a leader, often called the Head of Growth or Growth Leader. They’re responsible for keeping the team aligned and focused. 

Depending on the team's size and goals, other members may include growth marketers, designers, product engineers, salespeople, videographers, CROs, SEO specialists, content marketers, copywriters, and more. 

Related: 3 Examples of How To Structure A Growth Team For Rapid Growth

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Should You Build an In-House Growth Team or Hire an Outsourced Growth Team

So, should you go in-house or outsource your growth team? As with anything else, there are pros and cons to each option. The best choice for you will depend on your current revenue, marketing budget, number of employees, and revenue goals. 

In-House Growth Team

Pros: Increased control of the process and results. Flexibility to offer additional incentives like bonuses or equity.

Cons: Extensive time to result. It can take several months to find, hire, and onboard each team member that you need. It can also be expensive to hire all the necessary team members, especially if you’re adding multiple roles at the same time. 

Outsourced Growth Team

Pros: The team has worked together previously and will leverage proven systems and processes to deliver results. You’re able to fill all technical and strategic gaps with one hire. 

Cons: If all goes well you will eventually outgrow your outsourced team, and the transition from outsourcing to building an internal team can be rocky. Some knowledge can get lost in the transition if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Related: 5 Steps To Building A Growth Team To Maximize ROI

7 Tips for Building Your Growth Team

Tip 1: Decide How You Will Structure Your Growth Team

Decide early on what you would like the initial organizational structure of your growth team to look like. You can always add members over time, so consider what the MVP version looks like, and what the growth team may look like after a couple years of growth. 

What skill sets do you need? What departments do you need to include to ensure you have representation from every stage of the customer journey? How many team members can you afford to hire right now vs deferring as future hires? 

Tip 2: Start by Hiring an Experienced Growth Leader

The Bulls had Jordan, the Union had Grant, and the Fellowship had Gandalf. Every great team starts with a great leader. 

Start your growth team journey by hiring a talented Head of Growth with a track record of delivering results for an organization like yours. If you find an experienced growth leader, they will help you establish effective growth systems and hire the right team members. 

Tip 3: Talent before Credentials

Every single member of your growth team must be creative, resourceful, and adaptable. Often the most talented growth team members didn’t graduate from the Ivy League, but rather have proven themselves to be able to creatively solve problems and achieve results in constrained environments. 

Tip 4: Don’t Skimp on Salaries 

When hiring your first, core growth team, don’t go for the cheapest hire you can find. Senior marketers, designers, and developers demand bigger salaries, but they will more than pay for themselves by delivering sustainable revenue growth over time. 

Later on, you will be able to afford to train junior team members. However, if you don’t start out by hiring some star players, you won’t have anyone to establish the frameworks and processes those junior team members will need to succeed. 

If you can’t yet afford to hire an entire growth team, then it may make sense to partner with an outsourced growth team who can fill strategic and technical gaps and help increase revenue enough for you to afford more internal hires. 

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Tip 5: Align on the Growth Team’s Primary Focus Metric

Your growth team needs to know what the score is. Are they putting up points like Scotty Pippenor throwing up airballs? Align your growth team around one “North Star” metric that all team members will bring their talents to bear on improving. 

Some examples include QoQ Revenue Growth, MRR, and YoY Net Profit Growth.

Tip 6: Be Patient

Have you ever planted a sunflower? You plant the seeds, water, and wait. Then water and wait some more. And then a sprout, which eventually grows to be taller than you! You can’t hack your way to sustainable growth… real growth takes time. 

Sustainable channels like organic are built slowly over months, but unlike paid media, investments made in organic pay off with compounding growth in traffic, leads, and opportunities for years to come. 

The fastest path to failure is rushing to market without a clear go-to-market strategy supported by clear plans and objectives for each team member. 

Tip 7: Celebrate your Wins

Your growth team works hard. They overcome disagreements, confusing data, and shifting market forces to achieve results for your organization. Be sure to recognize and reward their effort regularly.

Acknowledging when key milestones and goals are met will motivate your team to go after the next target with focus and intensity. Keep score, and cheer when you win. 

ANSWERED: What is a Growth Team?

Now you understand what a growth team is and what it takes to build one. The next step is to decide whether you’re ready to build an in-house growth team, or if you should hire an outsourced growth team to fill your strategic and talent gaps and start gaining momentum quickly. 

Lean Labs is a hybrid growth team that works with innovative SaaS and tech companies to scale growth and profit. If you want to know what we would do if we were your growth team, book a growth mapping session today!

If you want to see exactly how we plan for growth, budget for growth, and accelerate growth for our most successful clients, check out The Growth Playbook.

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