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...
What Is a Growth Team?
A growth team is a cross-functional team that focuses on improving performance at every stage of the customer journey. Growth teams take the scientific, data-driven methodology of engineering and apply it to marketing, sales, and product development.
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.
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.
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.