How Unicorn Companies Maintain Their Growth Momentum

How Unicorn Companies Maintain Their Growth Momentum

Categories: Front-line Managers  |  Sales Leadership  |  Unicorn Companies

In 2013, a venture capitalist coined the term “Unicorn” to refer to privately owned firms valued at over $1B. Back then, only 39 companies fit the criteria. Legislation had cleared the path for private companies to pursue funding and Unicorns became less mythical. By 2020, there were over 600.

The real Unicorn stampede occurred in the wake of pandemic-era restrictions, fueled by rapid tech adoption and an exuberant funding environment. During 2021 alone, 537 new Unicorns were minted. Today, there are over 1250. 

There is no roadmap for becoming a Unicorn, but there are common threads. Most have great timing with a disruptive idea, scalable technology and a relationship with investors marked by two-way trust. But once they've reached the coveted Unicorn status, how do companies maintain performance and continue their steep growth trajectory?

For leaders at these companies who have reached great heights and want to keep the pedal to the floor, there are three critical areas they'll need to maintain and support continued success. First, fast-growing teams need a unified sales message to leverage clarity on the value they’re bringing to the market. Second, streamline your selling processes: qualification methods, deep discovery, capturing and sharing proof points – fine-tune each component into a repeatable process embedded in your operating rhythm. Third, maintain strong talent while emphasizing retention and development. 

Let’s examine these three focus areas:

1. Align the New Team Around a Unified Messaging Framework

When new teams come together, perspectives and orientations form around the group’s responsibilities and function. Siloing is natural; each team has its own goals, and members may be unaware of agendas outside their sphere. When left unchecked, a lack of cohesion becomes a barrier to achieving the larger, company-wide objectives. Aligning teams around common messaging ensures everyone is rowing in the same direction.

Following a Command of the Message engagement designed to align customer-facing teams around a unified messaging framework, project44 achieved outcomes that include shorter sales cycles, a 53% increase in average deal size and a 115% increase in YoY ARR.

project44 found itself at this crossroads shortly after reaching the $1B benchmark. Tim Bertrand, President of Worldwide Operations with project44 explains how rapid growth intensified the need to unify behind a common language.

Unicorn Quote

Following a Command of the Message engagement designed to align customer-facing teams around a unified messaging framework, project44 achieved outcomes that include shorter sales cycles, a 53% increase in average deal size and a 115% increase in YoY ARR.

2. Streamline Your Selling Processes

With a value-driven sales messaging framework in place, next comes streamlining your ability to qualify and close deals. 
Using a proven qualification approach like MEDDICC helps ensure reps sell in ways that fit with how customers want to buy. Reps can qualify deals in and out more quickly, prioritize where to spend their time and forecast more accurately. Employing a trusted qualification method helps with consistency and efficiency. Sysdig is an example of a Unicorn that sought to improve how they qualified prospects and closed sales. After adopting the MEDDICC approach, Sysdig doubled conversion rates.

Improve deal velocity and predictability by aligning your sales activities with your customer’s buying process. Harness the full power of your braintrust by building repositories and repeatable processes for asking great discovery questions, performing thorough assessments and presenting defensible differentiators. Work with managers to ensure customer-facing teams are equipped to sell value and command a premium.  Build a coaching rhythm that reinforces the knowledge and skills necessary to execute each process, knowing that you’ll have to make modifications as markets and situations change. 

3. Maintain and Retain Top Talent Through Investing in Your People

Supporting top performers means coaching and investing in their individual and team growth goals. Staff recognizes when leaders invest in their growth and development. Taking the time to help your teams be successful feeds morale and loyalty, helping to shape the culture you are creating. 

Craig Lewis, Chief Sales Officer of project44, talks with John Kaplan in this short video clip about the lack of higher education options for selling and how enabling teams with access to knowledge creates a culture of conviction and accountability.

Having the right technology helps both attract top talent and contribute to overall job satisfaction. New tools of the trade include CRM integrations like Opportunity Manager, which reinforces the messaging framework and sales methodology to live prospects in Salesforce. It helps reps succeed and enables managers with data to leverage for effective coaching.

Virtual instruction hubs like The Command Center provide continuous learning in ways never previously possible: learn at your own pace with customized, individual learning plans. Individualization provides scaffolding and options for your highest achievers who are thirsty for knowledge and thrive when they can access it. This approach also caters to B and C reps who may need continued reinforcement and assessments for areas to work on – all designed to help them improve performance.  

Technology aside, maintaining growth requires having a repeatable process for finding and retaining top talent and good fits across the organization. At its core, our Command of the Talent series has four parts: (1) Define the critical predictors of success, (2) Improve the ability to interview and onboard, (3) Improve the recruiting bench, and (4) Build coaching plans.

Embrace Change that Fosters Unicorn-Level Growth

When leaders achieve alignment and increase efficiency, they liberate themselves to focus on the other items long-haul organizational success requires. You can make more time for the things that got you there: progressive product development, monitoring changes in the marketplace and crafting your company culture. Streamlining the revenue-generating parts of the business opens up a horizon of possibilities.

Whether your company is a recent start-up, Unicorn or somewhere in the middle – every firm experiencing rapid growth hits a point along its trajectory where attaining the next level means making changes. Leading your organization to the next benchmark and reaching the next plateau will require doing a few things differently.

Force Management can be that difference. We’ve created this library of resources designed to set leaders on the path to reaching goals and maintaining growth curves. Be sure to download our latest eBook, complete with questions leaders should examine and action items they can take. Grab your free copy of Cut Through the Noise: Navigating Sales Success in Economic Change and embrace the change will help your team reach the next level.

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