How to Build a Top 1% Growth Team 3x Faster than Your Competition

How to Build a Top 1% Growth Team 3x Faster than Your Competition

Discover insider secrets on how to successfully build a high-performing growth team. How can you leverage CXL Institute, Kolbe tests and other online resources to genuinely impact your bottom line? Which skills truly matter for fast growth, and which are the nice-to-haves?

In this conference talk (from Elite Camp 2018) by Chris Out from Rockboost will show you a behind-the-curtain look on how they operate at RockBoost, and how you can leverage this knowledge for your agency or in-house.

But more importantly, you will see how this translates into running more growth experiments; at a faster pace, and that win more often.

Play the video here:

    (funky pop music) (applause) So, how to build a top one percent growth team three times faster than your competition. So, my name's Chris Out. I'm the Lead Growth Hacker Managing Partner of RockBoost, the first growth hacking agency in the Netherlands, and of course, I am super excited to be here today. It's my third time, and I always love coming back, and I'm also excited because, five years ago, I was trapped in this office. I was a third year auditor and I hated my job so much that I decided to quit my job to become an entrepreneur.

    This is how I was lying in my bed,
    because I didn't have an idea for a startup, we didn't have any money for a startup, and my girlfriend, back at the time, thought I was completely crazy, but there was one thing we were sure about, that we would make a shitload of money with the startup in the first year. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. We lost more than 200,000 Euro of our own money, but that year has given us an incredible gift, and a gift that I'm very thankful for, because that gift was a deep dive and immersion in the world of growth hacking, CRO, online marketing, and this is how it looked like we were started out a couple of years ago.

    We really didn't have a freaking clue what we were doing.
    Now, we do, and we get invited by people like Sean Ellis, who have coined the term growth hacking, like years and years ago, and this is a picture of me and Sean from a year ago in Hamburg, where we really had a tough discussion on what is really driving impact and growth for companies, and eventually, we had the same conclusion. It's all about growth teams. Growth teams and organizations, they are really the people that make the impact within growth, so I started my journey, like how to figure out, like what's a really good growth team and what can we do with that? Well, the first question I asked myself was what should a growth team do? And to answer the question, we have to look at our biggest enemy that we have within growth.

    We call it the silo problem, the broken silos.
    This is why companies can't be agile and can't be fast, because we call it the broken growth system. I think everybody recognizes a system where there is a product team who comes up with the nice product, then they give it to marketing to get some leads, and then sales has to convert those leads. This is a broken system, because they are not working together and if it goes wrong, it's always the fault of the other party. They're a silo. They're not customer-centric, so what did Facebook do in 2008? They started with a new growth system, building multidisciplinary growth teams, putting people together to make sure that they work on one goal to really drive impact, and who are the type of people that we should put into a growth team or a CRO team? It always starts with a growth lead, or the product owner, somebody who's really responsible for the growth.

    And then, of course, we have to add the enemies,
    but are they really enemies? Because what we have seen is that the IT people in growth teams, they make the biggest impact, because when a growth team comes up with an idea and they're like oh, we're gonna do this, it normally would have taken 16 hours when they throw it over the fence to IT, but now it's IT involved, and they can say hey, I can do exactly the same, but I can do it in two hours. So, really work on impact. You have other people in the team, like marketing analysts.

    You have the specialists, the analysts,
    of course, the designers. Other companies have copywriters in it, or you have sales or customer service, but this is the basic setup that you need to have for a growth team, and then, of course, the next thing, what is actually what they should be working on? Well, we always say they have to follow the growth hacking process, and you always start with one metric that matters, always one growth KPI, so not working on 10 different things. Really work on one thing, and step one, what you're gonna do is you're gonna analyze your data.

    What has worked for us in the past
    and what has not been working for us in the past? And because of that, you get a nice list of ideas that you can do. What we start with is always the first list of the 100 experiments you can run. We call it the first 100 growth hacks, and after that, you're gonna prioritize. Hey, what can we do? What will make the biggest impact? Then you're gonna test what you're gonna do, and after that, you're gonna analyze. So, we work with a company. They spent more than 10 million on their webshop. How many times a year do you think they could do this loop? How many times per year could they update their website? Four times a year.

    Six months in advance, you have to tell the designers
    and IT people what they have to change. They could never do this. They could never do this high-tempo testing, while other companies are doing this thousands and thousands of times a day. This is what really drives growth, doing high-tempo testing, experimentation, but where do you do it at? And I think this is a very big problem within the CRO industry. We are too narrow focused, because what should you really do? You should run your experiments on the entire customer journey, so how do you acquire customers? How do you activate them? How do you retain them? How do you make sure you can make money on them, and how do you make sure that they refer other people? A lot of people think that growth hacking CRO is only top of the funnel, but it's really optimizing the entire customer journey, and if you do that, then this is your next priority.

    Why do we have growth teams?
    Why do we have CRO teams? To help a business to make more money. To make sure that the business is more valuable, so ask yourself, with everything that you do, are we improving the bottom line and is the business becoming more worth? Those are really the three things that a growth team should do, but what should a top one percent growth team do? And I'm always fascinated, because when we talk about growth hacking, we say there's always one word missing. Growth hacking is not the right word.

    It should be called growth system hacking,
    because you should build a growth system, and then you can hack that, because what's the definition of a hack? It's finding the weak spot in a system and then exploiting the weakness. But how can you be creative in exploiting those weaknesses if you're not systematized and working in a structured way? And I always like to read this article from CXL every year, the State of the Industry Report, and what you see, only 36% of companies is doing optimization in a documented and structured way.

    For me, following a process, if it's not documented,
    it's not a process, so only 36% of people are doing that. So, a top one percent is at least structured and process driven, but what is a really good, really good growth team doing? They're optimizing the way in how they're optimizing, so they have a process to optimize their optimization, so what we do, we run sprints of two or four weeks on our old processes to make sure that we improve them. So, there are actually a couple of people here in the room from my team, and you see their names over here and their faces.

    They are working this month on, for example,
    improving the backlog grooming and prioritization, how we're doing that. We're assigning tasks for that, because next month, we can do that even better. So, good growth teams, they are process driven, and they have a process to make themselves even better, and then, the third thing is making sure that you enable a company-wide growth mindset and a company-wide growth culture. This is a startup pyramid. This is a concept created by Sean Ellis a couple of years ago, and it highlights what you really need to have in place to grow a company really fast.

    It always starts with product market fit,
    making sure that you have a product that everybody wants, and then you transition to growth and you're gonna grow really fast. You want to do experimentation, but you see, this new model, it's all about bringing in a company-wide culture, so how can you do that in a good way is having a holistic business approach. And again, this is what I think that the CRO in this room is really missing. They're only focused in silos. They're focusing on acquisition and activation, but we are here to transform entire businesses, because at the end, we are here to help businesses make more money.

    So, this is one of our clients, it's HAVI Logistics.
    They do the entire supply chain for one of the biggest fast food chains here in the world, and for them, we built a completely new platform where those restaurant owners could order their stuff, so their fries, everything they need to run a restaurant, and you see a short video of what we have built. We have actually built an eCommerce place for a B2B company, so two companies working together in their on eCommerce environment, and I'm very proud that, two weeks ago, we won an award for being the best B2B eCommerce case in the Netherlands.

    Thank you.
    (applause) And this is especially because of Natalie, because she did a great job with the stuff that I'm now gonna show, because what did we do? Why did we win an award? Because we enabled a company-wide digital transformation, so how did we start? We started with research, as Pap was highlighting, really finding the pain of the customer, because it's always starting with that, and then we create an hypothesis. Okay, what should we do? How can we do this in the fastest way to make sure that the company can use the tool really well? Then, we build an MVP platform with a couple of teams, and then, afterwards, we were constantly validating the data, how are these customers interacting with the platform? Constantly testing and seeing what works best, and what doesn't work.

    And because of that, what we're now able to do,
    we're now doing a completely global rollout, because the MVP is there. We know what works, and now we can add all the restaurants throughout the world. So, now we know how to build a good growth team, that it should be process-driven, they should be optimizing the optimization, and they should really enable a company-wide digital transformation, but now we're getting to the real meat of this talk. How do you do this three times faster? Because as Pap already said, we want a pill. We wanna make sure we can hack it, that we can do it faster, and that's what I'm gonna talk about in this part of the presentation, because what's the profile of a growth hacker or a CRO person? It's somebody whose true north is growth, so everything that you do should be in line with growing a company really fast, and for that, you need to have a certain skill set containing of three areas, so you have the creative marketing part, which is like branding, copywriting, design.

    You could say old school marketing.
    Then, you have the data parts, so knowing how to analyze, how to test, but then there are a lot of marketers that say oh, we do this. But there is also a saying within marketing, only 50% of my marketing works. I only don't know which 50%, but that's what we don't wanna have. We really want to understand, based on data, what's working and what's not working. So, what we're adding to this mix is the software part, the engineering, the automation, knowing how to code, because this is really important.

    And if you look at the setup of a growth team,
    you can see it's actually all those three things together. So, how do you build that skill set for yourself? Well, for that, we use the frame of the T-shape, so you look at the broad knowledge, so what are things where you have read books about, you follow courses on, or you have previous experience in? So, that's stuff you have already done. You're not the expert, but you can talk with an expert. You can work with an expert, and then the other thing, what's your deep knowledge? What's that one thing that you're really, really, really good at? So, what we always say is that, to do this really well, we need to have more Mr. Ts.

    I always love this slide.
    I love this joke, but it really depends on the age of the audience if it's working or not. So, let's say we're gonna hack those T-shapes. We know we've built T-shapes, and I'm gonna share, step by step, the process that we use at RockBoost for ourself and for our clients to really build up that skill set in an extremely fast amount of time. Where do we start with? And this is relevant for everybody in this audience, because everybody is working in this industry. You start with a personal T-shape plan.

    What do our clients, what does my business need?
    What is my current skill set, and where is that knowledge gap to make more impact? Always start with that impact, and really see where is that knowledge gap. The second thing that you do is really determine what are the hard and soft skills needed to really make that impact? So, we have our function profiles. This is a screenshot from stuff that we use to make sure that our growth hackers and CRO people really can make an impact, so we have all the hard skills listed and we have the soft skill listed.

    And for the hard skills, like such a big surprise,
    we use CXL Institute to really make sure that we enable,

    I know Pap would like this slide,
    because what do we do? Like all our growth hackers and CRO people, they have different clients with different needs. They have different skill sets, and if you look at this, they have a shitload of different courses you can do. So, everybody can follow a tailored course for the stuff that they need to learn, so this is what we use for the hard skill, and the next thing we do, we create a learning plan per person. So, this is actually a sheet from Daphne, how she has been doing courses, and we check in with people every time to see how fast are they learning? And that learning plan is created based on their ambitions, what their clients need, and how they want to evolve.

    What's really important, because what I have seen
    with a lot of young people, they say, ah, I wanna learn a lot. And then you give them courses, you pay a shitload of money for them, and they don't follow through on it. So, what we have done, we plan in dedicated learning time. There is 1 1/2 hour a week that I'm not allowed to ask questions to my team. That's on Tuesday morning between 8:30 and 10, and if I do, I really get some angry faces, because that's the time when they can work on their courses on CXL Institute and other stuff to really make sure that they improve their impact, and that they are actually learning stuff, which they can implement for their clients in that week.

    So, after the dedicated learning time,
    we do monthly check ins, and during those check ins, we still say okay, is the T-shape still in line with the OKR, with our company rules? Is it still in line with our client needs? Is it still in line with what people need to evolve on? And everybody knows the world is changing extremely fast, so what we need to do is T-shape hacking, and as I said, you start with the definition of a T-shape. What do you really need? You create a learning plan to make sure that people can learn the stuff that actually really matter.

    After that, you make sure they train,
    and what I love to do is enable my team so they can train themselves on their own time or in the company's time and really do it at their own pace. You do monthly check ins, and this creates a loop, and what we have seen, the faster and more often we do this with people, the faster their development, and at the end, the more impact we can make on our clients and the more growth we can enable. Of course, this is pretty cool, but I want to share a couple of more really concrete examples on how we have used CXL at RockBoost.

    So, I asked my team,
    guys, why are you using institute? What's really the value proposition for you guys? And then, what happens, when another team member has a question and I already learned that, I can send them the link, so instead of having somebody for one hour sitting next to somebody else to explain it, they can just learn it themselves. So, that's already making more money for us, because it's reducing the cost. This is the 35K link tracking hack. It's a cool name, but what does it really say? Because we have learned this, we can spend 35K of money that our clients pay us on other stuff that makes more impact, and if you look at the hack, you were like, shit, could you be so stupid that you weren't doing this yet? But what did happen, like Daphne and Max, they had a chat.

    Max wanted to learn something.
    He had a problem with making things measurable. Daphne just sent him the video link. Here, watch this video, and you can fix it. This is the trick. How do you make all links trackable? This saves us hours and hours and hours in setting up messaging systems for clients, and as I said, it's not super advanced. It's pretty obvious, but it was not ingrained in our processes. Now, it's part of our processes, and that saves us so much more time and we can set up the clients way more quickly for success because we can spend the time that we would otherwise have spent on measurement systems, now on stuff that really makes impact, so this was a simple one, but another thing that I ask, okay, but can you share more insight on why you're using CXL Institute, and what they said is like it helps us to find bottlenecks quicker and help us find opportunities quicker.

    So, the HAVI case, where we won the award,
    I think this is a really could thing that Natalie did, which has really enabled us to get in front of the jury and really show that we are rainy day driven, so what was happening? It was a really cool platform, heavy load, so it was used in other countries where people weren't having fast devices or fast internet connections, so the load time was really slow and people were actually getting frustrated with it, but Natalie was doing the Excel course from Mark Tiers, and what did she do? She set up for all the API calls, she set up event tracking and created the pivot table to really figure out what's the stuff that's being used a lot but where there are also a lot of delays? So, why did she do that? She really wanted to find where's the stuff, if we would change something over there, it would immediately make a big impact on the company.

    So, what did we do?
    We fixed all those issues by removing the friction. In one sprint, it reduced complaints to zero, and this was after a two week sprint, because we were really trying to figure out where does it matter instead of just seeing like, okay, all this stuff is broken. Let's fix it one at a time. Now, we were really looking, what is the 20/80 impact? What's the 20% that's driving 80% of the complaints? And that's nice, but because of that, because we did it in one sprint, we could increase the speed of the global rollout.

    We could add other restaurants very fast,
    and that had a seven figure impact on their business, because more restaurants could use that application faster with bigger impact, less waiting time for them. So, that's how you need to think. Where can we remove friction to make more impact? And if you do that stuff, if you have that fixed, then you have more time for research. So, we work with a lot of media companies, and FOX is one of our big clients, and we run a lot of AB tests on 24 Kitchen, and this was a lead-generating campaign, and we were really struggling to get the conversion rate up.

    Like we were testing all kinds of different stuff,
    but then, because we had the time to do more research, because they just paid us a fixed fee, we could say okay, let's test something with this woman, because we know people like to associate themselves with the target audience. This test generated 37% more leads. It made the business more than 100K extra a year. Because we removed all the friction and making other stuff easy, we had more time to do the research and create stuff that really makes impact.

    So, to finalize it, you need to have a look
    at your growth team score, and these are the three questions that you need to ask to answer the question how do you build a top one percent growth team three times faster than your competition? You need to ask yourself are we working in a multidisciplinary growth team where we focus on the high tempo testing on the entire customer journey? Give yourself a score for that, and also define what's the next step we can do to do that even better. Are you already process driven, or are you optimizing your optimization, and are you really, really working on enabling a digital growth transformation, and at the end, do you know what your T-shape is? Do you have that aligned with your team and are you really focusing on hacking the T-shape of your people, because I truly believe that, when you do these three things, you can really build a top one percent growth team three times faster than your competition.

    Thank you very much.
    (applause) (funky pop music)

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