Where Series A investors might prioritise intangible metrics such as the founder’s vision, raising a Series B comes with a lot more due diligence into the data. In particular, investors want to see correlation between the data’s past, present and future.
Firstly, the past. Investors will look at how you collect data to judge its accuracy. What tools have you chosen? What metrics are you prioritising? Next, the present. Investors want to see if the findings are used consistently across the company. How are you analysing the data? Is data integrity across each key revenue function aligned? Finally, the future. How have the assumptions in the forecast been made? Do you have the data to match the assumptions? Whether it’s showing future performance, targets and conversion or pipeline coverage, retention and sales, Series B investors want to see your entire revenue forecast built on clear data driven assumptions.
Being able to show that you’re nailing the basics of a scaling business, such as strong customer retention, revenue growth and increasing sales, is key to attracting Series B investment and that all boils down to the metrics you use. On the one hand, basic metrics like net revenue retention (NRR), monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and qualified sales leads (SQL) act as levers that you can pull and push at the right time to take advantage of things that are working and rectify areas that aren’t. On the other hand, clear reporting of basic metrics makes convincing Series B investors considerably easier as you can prove your growth and confidently advocate your future talent, hiring and investment plans to investors.
Although it seems obvious, it’s an area where many companies struggle. Sometimes the CEO-Founder is too easily seduced by niche metrics that go into too much detail. Other times, there’s a lack of consensus from the top team. Scaling companies should therefore take a step back, think about what topline figures they want to show, get all departments on-board and then use the basic metrics that prove the data.
Most companies scaling from Series A to Series B are faced with similar challenges. There’s questions about data, issues with reporting, decisions around the technology stack and agreements on processes. For the latter, it’s crucial to have clear process definitions that are agreed upon between each function. For example, each department leader should be aligned on the funnel definitions, such as marketing qualified leads (MQL), sales qualified leads (SQL) and sales qualified opportunities (SQO), to avoid confusion and ensure various teams are working in step with one another.
The same is true when it comes to data processes. Department leaders must agree on what data they want to show and the best metrics to prove it, but also decide their individual departments’ roles and responsibilities in achieving the targets. In this way, the data not only counts as a single source of truth, but also all parts of the business are aligned to the same end goals.
Imagine the scene: Series A has just been finalised and £5 million is burning the pockets of the CEO-Founder. With all these grand plans for expansion, they hire a highly-experienced team, plot their route to scale and invest in a myriad of reporting tools to show them how they’re doing. They set off at breakneck speed and come prepared to dazzle the Series B investors with their success only to realise the challenge on data and inefficient processes still persists. Why? Because the answer wasn’t to invest in the best technology, it was to build, define and implement a process. It’s easy to invest in a tool, believing it shall address a challenge and process issue, but the problem really lies with process and its execution.
Successful scaling companies are those where employees and functions are all aligned on processes and it doesn’t matter who you ask about them, the answers are always the same!
On the one hand, don’t jump too early, on the other, don’t wait too long. It might sound paradoxical, but in fact it’s complementary. After finalising Series A, you should invest in Sales or Rev Operations Leaders whose role is to address the basic challenges and mistakes mentioned early on. For example, imagine this one scenario (of many). The investment in the technology stack can easily double, triple or quadruple in a short space of time, but who owns it? Who has the know-how of the tech, can create the communication around its uses, and ultimately build the best possible ecosystem to support the revenue targets and growth? The only function that should own this is Revenue Operations.
Be it data integrity, single source of truth, basic reporting or the technology stack, the RevOps function is key to ensuring all your metrics and processes are aligned, and more importantly, all your business forecasting, assumptions and forward thinking targets are completely bullet proof.
Growth can never be quick enough, but comparing internal growth shows only one side of the story. How many times have you analysed your Target Market? What sources do you use to understand the size of your market? How do you compare it to growth of the business?
Buyers’ needs, demands and preferences evolve, so sticking with the same go-to-market (GTM) strategy for too long is effectively playing the market blind. You’re going in with an iPod at the right time, but still trying to sell it when the market has moved on to the iPhone. Yes, building out, employing, reviewing and then adapting a GTM strategy can take time, but if your GTM doesn’t account for how buyers are working, interacting and requiring products and services in the market, then what’s the point? Having a defined GTM process with planned strategy review meetings and reporting top-of-mind should be a given to continue the market capture.
BUT…the good news is that all the above mistakes can be avoided, or if necessary, fixed. A lot of it comes from experience and planning. In high-growth environments, it’s easy to push planning from one day’s to-do list to the next, but carving out time to develop a clear strategy and keep revisiting how this evolves, enables you to continuously identify what you need, when and from whom.
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