SBI has been studying how top performing organizations allocate resources to achieve near and longer-term results. Given no organization has enough resources to do everything, tradeoffs are required to manage resources and expectations across marketing, sales and customer success. The best performing organizations use a revolving cycle to drive optimization – projecting, measuring and recognizing & rewarding results. These three steps feed into the next allocation cycle. The percent of leads that should come from each is optimized for success over time – get the most out of your resources.
Projecting the Return on Investment
From a finance perspective, the give / get on sales leads should be treated no differently than other budgeting decisions. The decisions should balance those current constraints with near and long-term benefits. Leading firms have a general Return on Investment (ROI) percentage that they use to make investment decisions.
Top tier firms allocate resources across marketing, sales and customer success that are aligned with external benchmarks. They then quantify what they project they are going to be able to generate from those resource allocations and measure.
The mix for one firm will not be the same for another. It comes down to an array of external and internal factors:
- External: industry, buyer personas, the perception of your company, investments by your competition, etc.
- Internal: employees, compensation practices, product features and strengths, historical spend / results, internal competition for resources, etc.
In our experience we have seen firms vary on their spending and have developed a ‘Lead Generation Profiling’ tool. In general, we see most firms spending on each category in the following ranges:
- Marketing: 20-60%
- Sales: 30-60%
- Customer Success: 0-40%
By quantifying the results and layering over the risks / rewards will enable you to make effective quantitative decisions. Where this arithmetic becomes an art is where the top down allocation meets the bottom up results:
- Top-Down: leveraging historical spend / results to inform future allocations
- Bottom-Up: targeted areas of focus and campaigns led by marketing, sales and customer success
Once allocations have been determined, SBI has found it is critical to measure the results against the projections. To manage the process, leading firms define 3-5 key performance indicators (KPIs). Again, these KPIs vary by industry, firm and function, but span leading and lagging indicators of success:
- Number / Quality of Leads: near-real time effectiveness, common characteristics / profiles of leads, pathing based on common characteristics, etc.
- Ability to Convert Leads into Results: employee effectiveness, common characteristics of success by employee / team, prospect feedback (won / lost), etc.
Similar to the allocations across the functions, SBI has seen firms succeed by developing models to monitor results. These models help uncover the key assumptions and set the performance targets. In a recent blog, Revenue Attribution Tools of the Trade, we discussed the various tools and approaches that help streamline attribution.
Recognizing & Rewarding Success
Areas that exceed the ROI hurdle are rewarded with additional resources. Areas that fall short of the hurdle are either investigated for optimization opportunities or have their budget allocations cut. Taking action on the learnings and the results is important to drive the repeatable behaviors firms need to thrive.
How Do We Get There?
Make the plan, work the plan, revise the plan.
Making the arithmetic meet art should be a part of your firm’s hygiene. Decomposing measurements of success into a series of activities that your employees can surround and make a part of their daily routine. The percentage of your spending on each function and the resulting percentage of leads will come from that focus. Iterations over time will lead you to the optimal mix for your unique situation.
If you would like to participate in a custom workshop focused on how quantitative and qualitative decision making can optimize your spending across your lead-generation functions, let’s find some time to bring your team to engage with a hand-picked team of experts in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s executive briefing center. We will structure an engaging session covering a variety of components including: internal vs. external dynamics, convergence of top-down and bottom-up approaches and your lead funnel (number / quality and ability to convert).
We have developed a high-level tool to help in adjusting off the norms. Download our New Lead Generation Profiling Tool. By reflecting on a few simple questions, we believe you can achieve a high-level understanding of where your firm might need to stand.