Any gap in alignment between the Sales and Marketing organization will endanger the commercial success of a company. The Revenue Marketing Strategy, when thoughtfully crafted, allows best-in-class marketing organizations to focus their energy on demonstrable revenue generation instead of debating post-close marketing attribution. These organizations often follow a similar three-step approach described below:
- Sales and Marketing interlock
- Metrics and KPI development
- Continuous performance management and communication.
Common Goals and Common Stress
One easy test to gauge the degree of alignment between the two organizations is a Marketing “stress test.” If the relative anxiety levels between sellers and marketers are not in line, then it is usually a good indicator that the teams are not united even at the most basic level—how will we make our number this year? The 2020 SBI Revenue Marketing Strategy Tool proposes an easy-to-follow framework for mapping marketing initiatives, tactics, and contribution to sales goals.
Creating a common and useful stress on the sales and marketing team starts with setting translatable and measurable goals. The goals must begin with clarity of thought in the sales revenue plan, clear identification of the big bets that will take an organization from Point A to Point B, and marketing’s expected contribution. The ability to quantify the impact of different levers like new logo growth, cross-sell/up-sell bookings, or churn reduction will drive the interlock between the sales and marketing teams. The earlier the interlock process begins, the more robust a Revenue Marketing Strategy will be. Earlier engagement also gives marketing a seat at the table in the annual revenue planning process and can help the sales leadership team identify risk. For example, if marketing data suggests that the most compelling content and campaigns over the last 12 months focused on upgrading existing customers, we would expect that to carry a more robust piece of the overall improvement compared to new logo growth.
The flipside of healthy and common planning between sales and marketing is the doorstep approach. This is when the finance organization drops a growth number on the doorstep of the sales organization because it is the number they received from the board. The sales organization takes the number and carves it up amongst all the sellers and teams. The sales organization then drops an operating plan on the doorstep of the marketing organization and asks for a plan on how marketing will contribute. This happens more often than any of us would care to admit, but the question becomes what can we do today to put us on track for better alignment for the next 6 – 12 months and beyond.
Long-Term Focus With Real-Time Tracking
The first task to drive alignment on a Revenue Marketing Strategy is to identify what metrics and performance measures are relevant for the big bets identified by the Sales organization. Following the wild turn of events in 2020, many marketing teams are doubling down on a data-first approach to understanding changes in customer behavior. The same lens must be used by the marketing team to manage its own behavior. As marketers, we should be able to articulate how every investment will drive revenue growth and have a mechanism for measuring it. If we cannot easily measure the results or if there is uncertainty surrounding the relationship between the investment and revenue growth, should it really be prioritized?
Having a high-quality fact base that is refreshed in real-time and being able to track incremental progress against a common goal allows marketing to demonstrate conviction in its approach and contribution to revenue growth. When we know what is working and can demonstrate the revenue growth to leadership the conversation shifts from “why did we spend this amount on marketing” to “why didn’t we spend more.”
This is the growth cycle unlocked by an effective Revenue Marketing Strategy—identifying organizationally aligned and scalable solutions that support the entire business. While results are managed and displayed in snapshots of 3 and 12 months, this approach has the benefit of a compounding effect as the slate is not wiped clean at the end of the year, forcing the Marketing organization to start from scratch. The 2020 SBI Revenue Marketing Strategy Tool anchors on a framework for continuous evaluation of marketing contributions throughout the year to determine what is or is not delivering results. This turns long-term management of the Revenue Marketing Strategy into an exercise of optimization instead of re-invention.
Conclusion – Communication Frequency
By setting shared goals and responding to a common stressor, marketing and sales can reach new heights together. It starts off as simple as a conversation but can only be successful if the communication is frequent and fact-based. It is fair to expect that marketing’s contribution and review of KPIs should happen as frequently as the sales leaders expect updates from field sellers. Waiting for a quarterly update may be too long in between measurements to triage funnel and pipeline problems. Implementing real-time tracking means that marketing will always have the data at its fingertips and will be agile enough to shift resources from one program to the other to maximize revenue growth.
Our Revenue Marketing Strategy Planning Tool may help you start the interlock process or even serve as a day-to-day management utility for tracking progress. Download the tool and contact us for more details about operationalizing Revenue Marketing to drive Sales and Marketing alignment.