I feel like the role a growth manager plays in a tech product team has become more important than ever.

Why? Because as an organisation we are constantly looking to grow our customer base and profitability by introducing new products whilst adapting our existing ones to ensure that we are winning in the market.

So what exactly does a growth manager do here at Telstra and what skills are we are looking for?

The role of our growth managers

A ‘growth manager’ fits the profile of our Offer Development and Base Management teams within the Product team. They are accountable for the development of our core propositions and offers, and every day, they live and breathe acquiring new customers whilst also retaining our existing ones.

The teams help build and sell the Telstra Bundles and Mobile offers you see all throughout Australia. The decisions that these teams make will ultimately impact our success within these markets. To do this, the team conduct competitor analysis, market research, develop compelling plans and offers and work hand in hand with the sales team to drive profitable customer growth.

Some of the responsibilities of these teams include:

  • Monitoring and responding to market changes e.g. a competitor launches a new plan and we need respond by launching an offer to address their target market so we do not lose share
  • Development of new plans and pricing ensuring that these are both ‘market leading’ and ‘competitive’. This involves business case development to ensure that these are profitable and the launch of these to market. Often, these are the biggest launches the product team will do in any given 12 month period
  • Ongoing lifecycle management of our existing customer to retain them e.g. contacting them with a new plan or offer
  • Development and interlock of sales targets with our sales & retention channels. It’s critical that the Product team maintains a close relationship with the sales channels to ensure that the product or offer we have in market is relevant and will either build or continue momentum within these channels.

Why growth managers are important

The most effective lever to drive growth is to increase revenue by increasing the number of customers we have, and growth managers live and breathe this every day.

Growth managers at Telstra are responsible for pulling together multiple teams including; sales, marketing, insights and product development with a goal to increase sales, whilst ensuring that those sales are profitable and retaining our existing customers.

They work with key stakeholders and lead the conversations to define the message and value proposition for Telstra’s products, bringing the product to market and driving adoption of it; including arming sales with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful as well as helping to create marketing campaigns to generate demand.

How we measure our growth manager’s success

The primary success measure is net customer growth. This is measured by the number of customers we acquire (connections) minus the number of customers that disconnect their service (churn), giving us our net customer position.

However, to operationally track this, we need to track a number of metrics ensuring a healthy balance between customer profitability and number of customers. Often, deliberate trade-offs are made e.g. lowering the price to improve market competitiveness and increase the number of sales.

Some of the metrics we track are:

  • Sales: number of new customers we sell to
  • Disconnections: number of existing customers who choose to leave us
  • ARPU: the average plan amount each customer pays us for their service each month. For example, a customer paying $80 a month for their broadband bundle would have a plan ARPU of $80.
  • Revenue
  • Costs
  • Gross margin

What it takes to be a good growth manager

  • Commercial: Whilst this is not a finance role, a growth manager needs to understand the financial fundamentals and commercial success criteria for running a profitable business and make financially sound and responsible decisions. For example, lowering the price of broadband by $20 a month may drive increased sales and (very) happy sales channels, however, this will drive the product to a position where it is unprofitable. These commercially driven decisions need to be made every single day by a growth manager
  • Generalist: Good knowledge of just about everything that relates to the product from; the core product, marketing channels, how/when/why it is sold, and the commercials. Quite often, a growth manager will just need to roll up their sleeves and fill a gap, particularly when they are time bound and executing a change to market
  • Leadership: This is primarily in the form of indirect leadership of virtual cross-functional teams. The vast majority of a growth manager’s role is trying to influence teams and people to do/accept something e.g. a new offer, when it was not in the teams’ priority or roadmap. This requires strong people skills with a requirement to influence and initiate change
  • Effective communication: They craft, reframe and deliver compelling messages based on a comprehensive understanding of the target market – in the form of customers, internal stakeholders and sales channels. Often, they will need to sell the ‘hard story’, that requires significant investment, risk or innovation, to all stakeholders. Holds the creative, strategic and commercial vision and communicates this convincingly internally within Telstra and in the market to our customers.