#003 Revenue Growth Unveiled with Stacie Sussman

Cracking the Revenue Code with a Fractional CRO Expert

Guest & Host

Stacie Sussman & Steven Morell

Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Today, we're thrilled to have Stacie Sussman on board. We talked about Stacie's role as a fractional CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) and her secret sauce in working with C-suite to drive revenue growth. The episode delves into a client success story, where Stacie's team analyzed competitors, made enhancements to the client's platform, and improved operational efficiency.

September 7th, 2023


Steven Morell: New episode, speak revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. Revenue is a result, but a result of what In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the input. We speak with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. Join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what works for them. What didn't? Today my favorite guest, Stacie Sussman from New York. Thank you so much for joining us.

Stacie Sussman: You are welcome. So excited to be there. It is so fun to be in such great company. So I'm excited for this and can't wait to hear what we all do.

Steven Morell: Well, and I enjoy every conversation we ever had. I'm looking forward to this conversation. For the audience give us a quick intro. Who are you, what do you do? For whom do you do this, and why are you so successful?

Stacie Sussman: Sure. So my name is Stacie Sussman. I am the owner and founder of RevUp Advisory. I work with Scaleup companies that are looking to hit their next peak of their revenue group. So these companies are doing anywhere from a couple million to about 50 million in ARR. They know they need to get to the next level of revenue growth. They typically have ideas of how to get there or they don't have ideas of how to get there. And they bring, but they bring, yes. And they have Stacie Sussman, and they bring me in as a fractional CRO, chief Revenue Officer to help them move between these peaks and revenue plateaus. And my background is in revenue operations. Sales and C-suite leadership and I work hand in hand typically with the C-suite in order to get us to those next revenue growth goals.

Steven Morell: So, in one sentence, what's your secret sauce?

Stacie Sussman: It's me, I'm the secret sauce.

Steven Morell: That's a good sauce.

Stacie Sussman: It is being able to work with the C-suite. I come in, I act as a member of the team, and I really listen to what the goals are of the company. What's the executive vision, what's the end game? That's my favorite question. Start with the end. Where are we looking to go? And then together we work, into a strategy framework, and then some tactical execution.

Steven Morell: Start with the end my, is my keyword, is my keyword. Because, you know, I keep saying revenue is not a result. It's not a goal, it's the result. It's what we have in the end. Give us, give us a big picture. Like what are a, looking at your portfolio companies, if I may call them this, what are the big goals for this year and what is the outlook for next year?

Stacie Sussman: Sure. I mean, it's different depending on every client I will say. But I have one client that has a big investor. They're deciding if they wanna go into multiple markets or they wanna just kind of like, I. Hone in on like the team of their market and go really hard in just their market and grow their customer base specifically in that market.So we did an exercise to sort of understand the competition, understand what that looks like, and I think the idea for 2024 is we may not actually go into other markets. We realize that there's a surplus of clients that we don't get. Specific market. They're in the food industry and so they're just gonna go hard on the clients that fit their I C P. And the problem was that they couldn't take on more clients 'because they were at capacity. And so we did capacity planning and we worked with the systems to automate a lot of the processes that were causing friction and became really manual. And so now

Steven Morell: You mentioned an experiment. You mentioned an experiment. What experiment did you do?

Stacie Sussman: Well, we went and did competitive analysis of the competitors and we actually did demos of their competitors because they have a proprietary, homegrown, ad tech platform. so we made enhancements to their platform based on what we're seeing some of the competitors do. This company's doing let's say 10 million in ARR . The companies we were looking at were doing a billion dollars in ARR. So those are vastly different companies, but we got some really good product ideas of what enhancements we can make to their product, gave them a better operating rhythm and reduced, you know, friction in the, with the employees. And so now they can take on more clients and, and it was a really good success story.

Steven Morell: That, that sounds like an exciting success story. Let's maybe stay there for a moment longer. Step me through their sales process, like from lead generation over closed one hopefully and everything after this onboarding, value delivering and probably expansion.

Stacie Sussman: So that's where I saw a break and cracks in the organization, to be really honest. They didn't have a clear definition of who their ICP is. They actually didn't have a clear definition of the value that the company brought to the customer. They're, they're really successful. It's like they just didn't act. They had a brand identity crisis. So one was figuring out who their ICP is getting really clear on sort of what that looks like in order to get that sort of marketing operations function going. So, one piece of it from a sales perspective, they did not have a clear sales process, and they did not have that systematized in a system like a Salesforce or a HubSpot. And so we went through the sales process and sort of, I walked 'em through. You know, what does a qualified lead look like and how does that lead become qualified? And then what are the steps in your sales process? Who actually owns the pieces of that sales process and, and how do you close one of these clients and bring them on board? And then of course, what we all know is a handoff. Now you have these clients, how are you gonna actually service the clients? And so they were exceptionally good at, I'll say, customer success. They weren't calling it customer success. They didn't even realize how much they were going above and beyond for the client. So I felt like if we're looking at the conveyor belt or the bow tie it had a really good problem. They were getting the clients and they were keeping them for years, but they probably weren't flowing them through, let's say, the marketing and sales journey as seamlessly as they should.

Steven Morell: Speaking of seamlessly, and I like the picture of the conveyor belt. Can you shine some light on the tools that you deploy to move the customer along, all those touch points from lead generation. That's the kind of the promise we make. And then the promise, we convince them we are gonna deliver, and then the promise that we do deliver it should be the same promise along the way. What tools do you stitch together? Make that journey happen.

Stacie Sussman: I mean, it depends on the company and it depends on, I'll say, what kind of budget they have for a tech stack. I typically work with companies that are using HubSpot, Salesforce, and then sort of any integration within those two ecosystems. So for this example, the client had like, Terrible website, so you can't embed forms into a terrible website. So we're talking about the basics here. So we did an RFP process. We went out and hired a brand marketing firm, and I found this to be a really interesting exercise because a brand marketing firm that also understood demand gen and marketing automations and… Oops. 

Steven Morell: That's a nice combo.

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, it was a really nice comment because I interviewed 12 firms across, I'll say Canada and the US and what I came to realize in this RFP process was some people are just brand experts and I come from a magazine and digital advertising background. Some people are demanding gen experts, but there's a few that kind of bridge the gap between the two. And I felt like the client actually needed both. And so either we would have to hire one agency, then kind of pass the work over to another agency. And then I found an agency in Atlanta called Market Wake that ended up doing both and, and that was the agency that we hired.

Steven Morell: Nice. Returning to the tools, what does the website run on it? Are you a classical WordPress? Are you a modern webflow? Do you run it on HubSpot? How, how does.

Stacie Sussman: WordPress, classic WordPress. It gets a little complex because their backend is run on Magento because it's sort of like an, I'll say loosely, e-commerce platform. And so the tech stack is really vital, and with that, we're able to partner with a web development shop to kind of put together sort of all pieces,but most of the tech was spent on the homegrown platform.

Steven Morell: Let's stay here for a moment. We are talking about a website. A website is one too many communication channels, right? And it only helps if you actually have visitors on the website. 

Stacie Sussman: Correct. 

Steven Morell: Maybe we go a step back and like in the early days, I must admit, in the early days of my company, we were tweaking the website and we launched like six times till we realized my LinkedIn profile has 10 times more visitors than our website. We should maybe tweak by LinkedIn profile and discuss the website less so 

Stacie Sussman: I love that. 

Steven Morell: Yeah. It's crazy. Yeah. Then we did the math. We started counting, you know, how much, how much traffic do our, that whole team. That's just me, the whole team. And it turns out if we put the whole team together, it's really our LinkedIn, the customer journey starts at LinkedIn these days, at least for us. They first check out my LinkedIn profile or one of my colleagues. And then from there you know, if there are no red flags, if this is interesting, then they go to the website, check out the website. But that's, you know, just making sure that they, this, this guy is legit and has a website. So, returning to this, how do they get people to visit their website?They will run paid ads. How does that work?

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, I mean, I just wanna add a really good point that you're saying, and I see this discussion happening on LinkedIn and I think you'd be in agreement with me here, but it's, as sellers and marketers, we need to meet the customer where they are in the journey before they talk to. Stacie, or they talk to Steven, they probably have all these preconceived notions about who we are and what we are. I think gone are the days where, Okay. Step 0, 1, 2, 3. If the customers are ready, like, I just wanna demo. I read all your white papers. I checked out your LinkedIn, I went to your website. I have this specific problem and I think your tool can solve this specific problem. Just start there. And I feel like we're saying, oh. Flexible in the sales process because buyers can come in from wherever. So for that client specifically, it's a combination of that. They do a lot of trade shows, they do a lot of sponsorships with booths. They do webinars, they have leads come in inbound. People literally call their office. So I think it's meeting them where they are because people come from, or referrals people come from them in lots of different places.

Steven Morell: Yes. And you know, thinking about it, we speak so much about brand and messaging and product message fit. I think the first step is making sure we don't raise red flags before they even contact us. Like, have my LinkedIn profile cleaned up. Have your social media profiles cleaned up. Make sure all the links work. Make sure you know, the testimonials that you include are still existing. Just remove all the, because this is, we are overwhelmed with information and we just try to disqualify all the time. And as customers, I mean, and our customers try to find reasons not to contact us and disqualify us. And I think the first, before you even think brand and product message fit, just, you know, remove the red flags. That's step one. And then everything else is extra. Having a great brand, having a great message, is on top of this. But first, just feel legit and, and make sure that you don't raise red flags, but get back. 

Stacie Sussman: make it easy for people to contact you. I feel like making it easy for people to contact you. I have my, I don't know, you probably do too. I have my email, like in my LinkedIn bio. It's on my banner, but you'd be surprised how many people just don't ever use it.

Steven Morell: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. It's just to make it easy, and removing all the red flags is the first thing. And then think about the brand. Your customers probably care about the brand a lot less than you do. Returning. Returning to that question I recently, somebody said, You know, the difference between cold and warm approach is cold always happens one-on-one and warm happens one to many. 

Stacie Sussman: Dive into that for me. I'm curious what you mean by that.

Steven Morell: Took me a moment to swallow this, but it's, it's true. When you send out a cold email, that's one-on-one. Even if you send out a million emails, huh? It's still the, the single email is a one-on-one and it's cold. Huh? If you. Call, call somebody that's one-on-one. Even if you make 120 dial attempts before lunch, it's still, you know a one-on-one every time you contact somebody one-on-one for the first time, but the first contact is one-on-one. It's actually called. There is no warmth, there is no warm one-on-one unless you have, and then it becomes inbound unless you have intros, unless they know you. I think this is an important distinction. think of warm people that I know, that's not necessarily what it means. It means people that know me. I have, I dunno, something around 10,000 followers on, on LinkedIn. They're all warm leads. They all know me. I don't know, maybe all of them. But they, but they know me. So when, whenever they contact me, if I can make them contact me through a LinkedIn post to a paid ad, whatever, then it becomes lukewarm. And then it becomes inbound. Do you agree with these definitions?

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, I do agree with that. I wanted to, you know, what I always say as an operator is, what is your definition of that term? Because different definitions are the same terms for people. But yeah, I agree. I think there's, I like that you added lukewarm because when I would do scoring I feel like there's cold, there's sort of lukewarm, and then there's. Warm or what I would say hot. Really? And so I like that definition. I mean, cold. Yeah. Cold is hard. It's a hard game. The outbound game just gets people to talk to you that don't know about you. I would say, like for me, the LinkedIn strategy has been a really great way to get lukewarm and warm people to reach out to me or. Comment on my post, and then you can sort of slide into their DM and start having, you know, back into that one-to-one conversation. But yeah, and, and I think it's important to differentiate what those look like and sort of what activities get people to cold, lukewarm, and hot in my example, because there's a different way of communicating with those people and probably a different tone you're gonna take depending on how, how they came in or, or how you approach them.

Steven Morell: I think we can even, we can even narrow this down to lukewarm means they know you and warm means they know you and they engage with you. And hot is they know you, they engage with you, and they have a pressing need. Yes. I love that.  Yes. Hot is, they're, they're potentially ready to buy because there's some sort of pain there. But, but lukewarm, I think, yeah, lukewarm could go either way. It can become cold really quick or You know, with lukewarm what I do is, I sometimes just kind of ask for an intro that's, you know, lukewarm, doesn't it? It doesn't mean that Elite is. The prospective buyer of Lukewarm is Stacie. Do you know anyone who needs X, Y, Z? Because I'm selling this right now. That's. That's not cold. Huh? And if, and if you send me someplace that's not cold. So because people know me, can be, can be transitioned to people knowing you and then they know me. Huh? Like, we can take a selfie...

Stacie Sussman: ...they trust. 

Steven Morell: …together and said, Hey look, there's Stacie and me. She said, you should buy from me.

Stacie Sussman: I do get those a lot. I'll say in my LinkedIn inbox, now that we're thinking of the definitions, a woman has reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm looking for this job. I I saw this person. He is on their advisory board. I don't think they have openings, but I really like the company. Do you think I could connect you? I typically like to do what I consider like a double tap. I would reach out to that person separately and say, Hey, this person would like to meet you. This is their LinkedIn profile. Are you open? Yeah. Everyone?

Steven Morell: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Stacie Sussman: Think 

Steven Morell: Absolutely. Yes. I think having contact comes with the obligation to protect the contact.

Stacie Sussman: Correct.

Steven Morell: Um, and this is how I approach my network. If somebody asks me for an intro, I go like, let me ask. Then I ask, well, it's not, you I'm not the Yellow Pages. You are probably not old enough to you. know what the yellow pages are. not, not everyone will get that. Okay. Let's get back to our tool stack. So staying with that one customer how do they, how do they generate traffic on the website?

Stacie Sussman: So they're not doing a very good job about that, but we are looking to create a cadence. They do a lot of newsletters, which obviously is not off, you know, on the website, but. I would say for them blog posting and social interactions, when we actually hired that brand agency, they did an analysis of keyword terms and what competitors were talking about. And it was interesting to see what that analysis looked like along with. Hey, you're probably talking about these things, but you're not actually calling out, let's say these top five to 10, like SEO words or sort of buzzwords that you should be saying. So just getting more cognizant about that kind of ss e o virality piece to it, and then making sure that they actually had like a plan to push that out. They were doing a lot of newsletters, and the newsletters click through and open rates were like bonkers, like almost. People were opening the newsletters because they're technically authority in the industry. Everything say,

Steven Morell: That's interesting. 70, 80% opening rate on the newsletter is very high. How do they get, how, how do they, how did they get them, to the audience? How did they start? Where, where, where do people sign up on their website? How did they start?

Stacie Sussman: They either sign up as they do a lot of in-person, so they do a lot of booths and they do sign up. We did QR code sign up or sign up on an iPad. Obviously their customers all get their newsletters. We segmented out the newsletters between customers and non-customers, and then potentially geographic location because what they do matters where the person's located and also leads. They did get a ton of leads from sponsorships that they've done, and so segmenting out people that are, you know, current customers, people that have churned, and people that are prospective customers that could work with them.

Steven Morell: How do they keep up the high quality? I mean, signing up people is one thing, but keeping them entertained. It's easy to get them to open the first newsletter, but it's definitely hard to make them open the second newsletter. Right. Everybody gets a first chance, but how do they, how do they keep up the quality? And what's their secret sauce to, to make people Keep opening their newsletters.

Stacie Sussman: The industry and they work in a very niche industry. The industry really respects them as a thought leader within the industry, and they don't send out like . Hey, just checking in today, it's a Tuesday or something. They send out only thoughtful industry news, not just what is about their services, things that are constantly changing in their industry. And so I think people have grown accustomed to when they're speaking and they're speaking to them through newsletters, it's really important and it's something they should be in this niche industry, and that's where people..

Steven Morell: Who's, who's writing the newsletter? Do they have an editor or is this the CEO/founder?

Stacie Sussman: A combination of.

Steven Morell: Interesting. So the newsletter is one way of getting traffic onto the website ss e o and, and content marketing. That sounds like a very traditional setup. So you mentioned forms on the website. I'm asking for HubSpot forms.

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, HubSpot.

Steven Morell: What happens? What happens from there? What are the HubSpot forms? Is this a lead magnet?

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, it's more like you wanna know more information about them. They don't really have like, you know, book a demo with us today and you can talk to us in four hours. Obviously they'd like to get there, but more like, Can you ask for more information on potential dropdowns? Do you wanna learn about the platform and do you wanna schedule a demo or you know, would you like to have a founder with the sales team? It's kind of almost like two paths there, but it's not as sophisticated as my other SaaS clients were. We're using Chili Piper, we're routing, we're kind of book a demo on, calendar and four hours or.

Steven Morell: So, the culture action is a book, a demo or is the culture action get a, a free consultation. Is there any other incentive than No Talk to sales.

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, I think it's more like. Get more information by talking to sales or the CEO or book a demo of the platform. So I think it's kind of like two routes. I mean, you can also sign up for their newsletter also, but I think at that point, when they're coming to their website, people wanna actually talk to someone at that point.

Steven Morell: I admire the content marketing and the lead magnets that Gong was creating and is still creating because, you know, elite Magnet is... A complete solution for a very narrow problem if you think about this. Yeah. And they had tons of this, like, here are the 25 opening questions for a cold call. That's a very narrow problem. Like, what do I say when I call somebody? And the solution is shear as a PDF with 25, and now give me your name and I'll give you this complete solution. And shear is a solution on how to build your dashboard and so forth. Every question that a sales leader might have, and for every question, it's this narrow solution and in the end, this builds trust. And now that you know, and now that you have all those appointments booked, and now that you have all those conversations, what you wanna have is you wanna monitor the quality and the, that's what Gong does, right? So it's kind of those lateral solutions left and right of your main solution that just kind of prepares the audience. Now that you have solved this problem and this problem and this problem, you are qualified for my main product. And I think they did this in a wonderful way, and I just recently started to understand how this was built and, and how I always did it wrong. So what is, what is the approach on, on, on their website to, you know, get people to surrender their data other than just, you know, talk to sales.

Stacie Sussman: Yeah, I mean I think it's, it's solving like real world problems that are outside of kind of what their services are, for example, like they are. A platform where they offer people bulk food, I'll say at like a discounted price. But in order to kind of make that food engine running, right, you have to have a, let's say a functional kitchen and the kitchen to be up to code it has to like have a certain layout and a flow for the chef. And obviously also has flow for compliance and sort of fire safety. And so they'll have consult conversations about sort of what. Their, you know, main core service and it's not really anything they offer, but that gets them.

Steven Morell: That enables the customer to even be able. Yeah. This is, customer enablement is very often misunderstood as seller enablement. It enables me to sell easier, but what it really should do is it should bring the prospective customer on the level where they're even able to use our product. Wonderful time flies. Stacie, every time I talk to you, I would like to talk so much more about customer success and how they are actually closing real quick, any sales method that they're using. Gap Challenger.

Stacie Sussman: They're using a combination of medic and med pick. So I feel like, but yeah, they're looking for essentially, you know, one, the decision maker and then they have sort of champions surrounding the decision maker, and so they need to figure out what that looks like.

Steven Morell: Very interesting. Time runs. We are at the end of the 30 minutes. All right, everyone. That brings me to the end of this episode. I wanna thank Stacie, you are fantastic. I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for joining us today and sharing all those insights and thoughts. Huge shoutouts to all our listeners. Your support means the world to us. Remember to check our website at speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps us to get the word out. Please follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram and YouTube and be back soon. We're gonna have great guests, and until then, stay curious, keep listening, and keep learning. See you soon. Thanks.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.