Five imperatives to help you scale your fintech
Here’s a situation I often encounter with clients and prospects in the fintech space:
- They’re the founder/CEO/COO/CGO of a successful fintech.
- Their company has been trading for a few years, has between 30-60 employees and is growing rapidly.
- They’ve secured solid investment (Series A-B, but pre-IPO) earmarked to enhance product, enlist partners and grow new markets.
- They want to exit the business in 18-24 months, having made large sums of money.
Needless to say, these individuals want to rapidly scale their business. The question is, what’s the best way to do it.
Here are five imperatives for any fintech wanting to accelerate growth:
- Research target markets thoroughly
It may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many fintechs haven’t undertaken detailed research to underpin their growth strategies. Research doesn’t have to take long – or be expensive – but it needs to be done well. For example: What are the characteristics of your target markets or sectors? How do you prioritise which to enter?
Many fintechs want to start with the UK and USA, but they frequently underestimate the time and level of investment required to effectively compete in these mature markets. As a result, they can fail to make the impact sought by investors.
It’s often better strategically to start by targeting smaller markets with high growth potential and lower barriers to entry, then create powerful case studies to facilitate entry into more established markets.
- Be clear who your target customers and partners are
Many fintechs target prospects too broadly, then get frustrated when their efforts yield few results. As a fintech, your customers will typically be retailers, issuers (banks), acquirers or other payment-related businesses.
Within retailers, for example, it’s vital to understand who you’re targeting. I sometimes hear: “We want to go after all retailers.” That’s an impossible task. How can finite sales and marketing efforts be marshalled to pursue all retailers?
You need clear prospect criteria to prioritise your commercial efforts. For instance, does your solution help increase conversion or basket size – or both? Are you targeting higher or lower frequency purchases? Does your solution help every sector or just some? Once you have these criteria in place, you can allocate weightings and tier the prospects into groups.
Once agreed, your final target list should be visible throughout the business, with every staff member understanding who you’re going after, and why. Marketing activities, from lead generation and PR to content creation, should be focussed on helping the sales team get in front of targets – and ultimately, closing the deal. A good way to keep up sales momentum is to create “command post” meetings focussed around the pursuit of particular tiers.
- Identify key stakeholders and buyer personas within your target customers – then create messages that resonate
Where individual stakeholders are concerned, try to go beyond the C-suite – who, yes, often have the final say and own the budget – to identify middle and senior managers who have influence over purchasing decisions. For loyalty fintechs, for example, these might include the head of loyalty or a senior marketing manager. In addition, reach out to support functions such as procurement and finance, which are often overlooked when it comes to building advocacy within a target client.
Once these stakeholders are mapped out, the next step is to create buyer personas. Understanding the goals and challenges of these stakeholders will enable you to create targeted messages for your contact strategy and marketing efforts.
Remember that your teams can help expedite the outreach as its likely they’ll have some of these stakeholders within their networks. Make it a group effort.
- Demonstrate an understanding of your prospect’s business in the first meeting
One of the first things I ask a new client to show me is their sales pack. I do this because I want to understand how they pitch. In nine out of ten packs I see, the majority of content is about the company’s business.
This fails to tell the prospect how the company can help them; why they should partner with them; and crucially – how much money they could make.
In the first meeting with a prospect, fintech representatives should demonstrate an understanding of the prospect’s business. This can be done quickly and easily by looking at annual reports, LinkedIn bios and other secondary sources. It’s also an opportunity for you, as a fintech, to validate your assumptions – for example: What are the prospect’s challenges? How can you help them? Why should they partner with you?
It’s amazing how a prospect will open up once they’ve seen you’ve done your homework; and they’ll be more receptive about learning about you, too. A little preparation goes a long way in establishing your credibility and creates an opportunity for continued discussion.
- Show them the money
Second meetings are the time to show prospects the size of the opportunity. This can be presented as a value model, using an interactive spreadsheet, which allows you and the prospect to have a conversation about how much they could potentially make.
For fintechs targeting retailers, there are often two considerations. The first is: How many more incremental (new) customers can they bring to the retailer? The second is: How much more will existing customers spend as a result of engaging with this new product or service?
In summary, if market acceleration is a priority, it’s imperative that fintechs know their target markets, clients, stakeholders and buyer personas – and frame their proposition in a way that helps the prospect achieve their goals. Taking the time to do this will also allow you to better focus your resources – yielding more impressive results.
By Greg Watts, founder, Demand Creation Partners
Greg Watts is the founder of Demand Creation Partners, a London-based growth consultancy that helps fintechs and payment firms to scale.
He was previously head of market acceleration at Visa Europe.
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