When you hear the terms top line and bottom line, you probably think of a profit and loss (P&L) statement that’s scoured over every month by your company’s finance department with thoughts on how to decrease overhead, especially in these days of a tightened economy with limited bandwidth and resources.
But improving your company’s top line and bottom line is important to every person that works there, including sales and marketing managers and teams. Read on to learn more about your top line vs your bottom line and what you can start doing today to improve both numbers.
Understanding the difference between top line vs. bottom line
Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between these important types of growth. You’ll find both on an accounting P&L statement, but to no surprise based on the names, they’re located at the top and bottom of that statement.
Typically, you’ll hear that companies want to increase their top line and decrease their bottom line. However, when they say they want to decrease the bottom line, they’re referencing the operational and overhead costs that need to be lowered in order to improve that bottom line number. To that end, your focus should be on increasing both your top line and bottom line.
What is top line growth?
First, the term top line references that the figure is at the very top of a P&L or income statement. It’s there because it reflects a company’s gross sales and revenue before anything else is taken away, such as expenses, salaries, and other forms of overhead, which results in the net sales and revenue.
Top line growth means there has been an increase in the gross sales and revenue. When you achieve top line growth, you’ve brought in more customers, or sold more to your existing customers, and have made more sales than the previous month or year. So what can you do as a marketing or sales professional to increase your company’s top line revenue?
8 tips for increasing your top line growth
In order to improve your gross sales and revenue, you need to increase your customer count and your average sales per customer. Here’s how to be strategic and make sure that you’re going after the right potential customers the right way with the right playbook of messaging for outbound and inbound calling, emailing, texting, and social touches.
1. Figure out your ideal customer
If you don’t already have an ideal customer profile (ICP) or buyer persona, create one. Look at your current customers and see what they have in common when it comes to their industry, titles, verticals, and challenges and use that to create the profile(s) of who is best suited to buy your products and services.
2. Get to know your competition
View their sites and read customer reviews like the ones on G2 to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and how your offerings compare to theirs. Your sales team should have battlecards of the top points for each competitor, so when they come up in conversations with potential customers, your sales reps know how to sell against those companies.
3. Understand your brand
Along with knowing your competition, you need to know your own company. That may sound like common sense, but it’s not, especially if you’re marketing or selling a number of products and services. Talk to your product marketing team if your company has one, or your customer success team, to get their take on each product.
Also, listen in on your sales team’s calls to see how they’re pitching each product. When you’re talking to a current or prospective customer, or anyone, you need to be able to discuss the nuances of each of your offerings in depth and the benefits of each. So, knowing everything about your product helps you when you’re talking to a potential customer and can lead to a sale, which will increase your top line.
4. Use targeted messaging
Once you have your ICP(s), and know your products, it’s time to create a playbook of personalized, targeted, and strategic messaging to reach out to the segments of your prospect list that are most likely to buy your product.
Personalization is the key to increasing your top line growth because no one wants to receive a cold email or call that could be directed to anyone, so those are ignored in favor of targeted messages.
Take the time to look at each person’s LinkedIn account and see who you have in common as a connection, or if they’ve posted a recent article you can reference, and then mention that in your sales outreach along with the pain points they’re most likely experiencing based on your research.
5. Increase your conversations
It takes an average of 18 dials to actually connect with a potential buyer. Shouldn’t your sales reps be focused on what they do best – having conversations – instead of dialing? When you outsource the actual dialing to human agent-assisted dialers instead of robo-dialers or auto dialers, since you want to be telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) compliant, the agents take care of the busywork of navigating phone systems and talking to receptionists and other gatekeepers, and instantly hand off the potential buyer to the sales rep when they’re reached.
Think of agent-assisted dialing as having three to four sales assistants sitting around each sales rep, making the dials for them, so that rep can have more conversations each day, which will lead to more sales and increase your top line revenue.
6. Create referrals
Eighty-four percent of B2B buyers started their purchasing process with a referral. As you’re having conversations, you’re forming connections and networks with the people you talk to, and creating a referral or partner program through those connections can lead to increased sales from other sources.
This can be a formalized partner, reseller, or channel program, where companies sell your products or services for you, or something as simple as offering your customers or connections an incentive on new customers or sales that come in when they recommend you to someone who trusts them. These referrals work to expand word about your offerings and company and can also increase your top line growth by bringing in more revenue.
7. Increase brand awareness
One easy and inexpensive way to improve your sales and contribute to the top line growth is to become more visible online. If you’re not on LinkedIn, connecting with others in your industry and prospects, and posting on your page daily in a thoughtful manner about trends in your industry, it’s time to start doing so.
Also, if you’re good with words, start looking for guest blog opportunities to get the word about your personal brand and your company brand out there at the same time.
8. Base compensation on performance
Motivate your sales reps to want to bring in even more sales by tying their compensation plans to an increase in top line growth. How? Change your sales reps’ compensation to be performance-based. If the majority of a sales rep’s salary comes from their commission, they’ll be even more motivated to succeed and increase your top line revenue to make more money.
What is bottom line growth?
Just like your top line, the bottom line is also listed on your P&L or income statement, but this figure is at the very bottom. It reflects your company’s net revenue after everything has been subtracted from your gross sales, including your cost of your products and services that were sold, administration expenses, salaries, and overhead.
Bottom line growth means that you have decreased your operational costs and overhead in order to improve that number at the bottom of your P&L statement. So, how can you do that as a sales or marketing professional?
8 tips for improving your bottom line
In order to improve your bottom line growth, you need to spend less money on your company’s expenses and acquiring new customers. Here are some tips on how to increase that bottom line number by decreasing your costs.
1. Go after the right customers
This is one way that you can increase your top line AND your bottom line at the same time. If you’re working off an ICP, then you know who is more likely to buy your products or services.
The Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80-20 rule, states that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. And the qualities of those 20% of your customers are what you should be focusing on exclusively in your sales outreach and messaging.
2. Don’t “spray and pray”
This term references marketing campaigns that aren’t segmented and could reach anyone. How is that going to help your bottom line? It won’t. Instead, you’ll be spending money on campaigns that could bring in people that aren’t the right fit at all for your product, which will impact your ROI and bottom line with the costs of that campaign.
From this day forward, your sales and marketing efforts should be on the people who are most likely to buy your product to generate more sales at less cost. Period. Not to the masses.
3. Create conversions
Once your campaigns are drawing the right people to your landing pages, your next mission to improve your bottom line growth is to convert those landing page visitors. Make your landing pages easy to understand and engaging, cover the same points as the campaign that brought the visitor there, and don’t give them anything else to click on to move away from that page except for the submit button on your form.
4. Automate everything
Whatever you can automate or outsource to someone else for less money than the cost of your own time, do it. By automating your sales emails, so you can go in and look at the set up, tested emails in your cadence and add in personalization to each, you take away the time that you’d have to spend creating a new email each time, which increases sales productivity and contributes to improving your bottom line.
5. Cross-sell and upsell
As you’re finalizing a deal with a new customer, suggest other products or services that your company offers that would go well with what they’ve purchased. This can also work with your current customers.
These next tips aren’t for marketing and sales professionals, but are instead for the senior executives. However, they’re worth noting as top tips you could suggest to your C-level or senior execs to improve your company’s bottom line growth.
6. Adjust your pricing
Take a look at your price margins and consider if your current prices are truly covering the costs of your overhead. Yes, you want to stay competitive with pricing in the industry, but there may be wiggle room to increase your prices a bit to increase your bottom line.
7. Get paid
Increasing sales is one thing, but getting paid for those purchases is another. It may be worth it to your finance department to bring on a collections person (or outsource collections to a company) to ensure invoices are paid.
8. Think about moving
Many companies may not have ever considered becoming 100% virtual, but the pandemic has shown that some positions can easily be done from home instead of in an office. Removing the cost of an office lease could bring a strong boon to your company’s bottom line growth. If closing your physical office isn’t a possibility, consider having your employees telecommute for one or two days a week to decrease the costs of running your office for those days.
There are many ways to improve your top line and bottom line growth, and some of these tips work to increase both. While you’re working through this list of tips to increase your revenue, you’ll also find that you’re thinking more strategically about your sales and marketing, which will also impact your own professional performance in a positive manner.
Mary Hart is the Senior Marketing Content Writer at ConnectLeader, a multi-channel sales engagement platform focused on helping B2B sales professionals increase their top line revenue and reduce sales cycle time. Mary also has extensive experience creating marketing and demand gen content.