Becoming a Part of Revenue Conversation

Helena Mah

Management is increasingly looking toward marketing to drive top-line growth. Great news for building credibility, yet a challenge for a marketing organization to transform the way it operates to earn a seat at the revenue table.

These days, most of us like to check in with our networks and do significant online research before we enter the (e)shop or talk to a salesperson. By doing the homework, many decisions are made upfront. So, being present at the top of the funnel with the information on how your products and services add value is a necessity. But presence is not enough. It feels good to know that a million people “like” your company, or that you have 43,000 followers. These numbers impress people, but they don’t measure business outcomes. In other words, these metrics don’t map directly to revenue, so they don’t matter to your CEO, CFO, and other members of the management team. Soft metrics - brand awareness, impressions, organic search rankings, satisfaction, etc. - are all important, but only to the extent when they are linked to quantifiable hard metrics - pipeline, revenue, and profit-driving online conversions and thus impacting the revenue contribution.

How do marketers get to the right metrics and prove contribution to business performance - the ones top management will pay attention

By partnering with sales and connecting activities to actual revenue generation. By contributing more to the sales pipeline, achieving higher levels of operational maturity, measuring results holistically, and collaborating better across the organization. High performing marketing organizations are focused on the following differentiators to stay ahead.

Work together as one team

The secret is to think through all the stages of the sales funnel and articulate clear definitions for each step customer needs to pass through on the way to a purchase. Working together in an aligned, synchronized, and coordinated approach. throughout the entire customer journey, to create and win new business opportunities and drive growth.

The challenge marketing needs to overcome is to start forecasting results, not spending - how many new qualified leads will enter the marketing funnel, how those will move through the funnel, and how many will become “sales-ready” in a given quarter or year? Marketers also need to understand what kind of support sales will need to close those deals and convert them to revenue. This approach builds a case for the resources both teams will need to deliver on those forecasts - budgets, time, and effort. It also presents a base for the discussion and estimated impact on revenue in case of budget cuts.   

Metrics matter

Start with the definition and alignment of sales and marketing strategies at the corporate level.

There are different metrics relevant based on what you want to achieve. If your sales team is looking to expand into new markets, then marketing needs to focus on helping them succeed. This way, both teams set up shared goals and secure the measurement against the same objectives. If you are targeting growth - look at the number of leads generated at each stage of the funnel, conversion rates, and net new wins. In a more mature enterprise, when you want to focus on the customer lifecycle - lead nurturing, diving deeper into the customer business, learning about new opportunities for up/cross/after-sales make more sense. You can expect your measurement and velocity from stage to stage will improve as you adapt and evolve.

Define what good looks like

Speaking the same language seems self-explanatory yet practice often shows a different picture. Clear and objective-driven communication is a base for collaboration and key to overcoming many unforeseen obstacles when marketing and sales are passing the ball to each other.

To proactively address customers' progress through the stages of the sales funnel both departments need to align on a definition - what does prospect, MQL, SAL, SQL look and behave like? How is this information then translated into programmatic and automated execution?

In lead-to-revenue management, everything counts - practices, processes, and technologies deployed to acquire, retain, and enrich customer relationships. So, make sure you are on the same page.

Invest more online

Increased online spending and usage of social media since the start of the pandemic is paying off according to London research. Lead generation online created an environment where sales and marketing needed to collaborate more closely together while following up on campaigns and adopting more effective techniques to ensure validity and clear lead-related data.

Constant changes to digital privacy settings have raised the power of zero-party data. This information customers are providing willingly to validate their intent with business they trust, are enabling personalized experiences at scale creating truly audience-aligned marketing that connects.  Yet the lead quality and lead volume remain a challenge - both are linked to the production of high-quality content that stands out as more and more eyeballs move online.

Strengthen the technology foundations

With more handovers occurring back and forth between marketing and sales, technology and automation are becoming increasingly essential for the execution and scaling of the integrated go-to-market approach. Data validation and cleanliness can be automated, but a greater challenge is to get the right insights in front of the right team member to deliver relevance at the right time.

Technology platforms can efficiently guide the execution step by step and support new ways of working. So, consider how to simplify processes, embed new workflows with process automation, utilize alerts to facilitate responsiveness and follow-ups, and ensure your technology platforms are supporting your decision-making with dashboards and insights for your key marketing and sales metrics.

Budget constraints are still a reality, and this situation dictates the need for marketing to transform and demonstrate the ROI. To achieve that, marketing needs to approach the transition smartly and create a bond with sales, working together as one team, to earn a seat at the revenue table. By forecasting results and proving contribution to the business performance. By implementing a best-practice methodology, supported by the technology that delivers consistent execution and focuses on the opportunity to deliver more relevant results.

Helena Mah is a senior executive who takes a vision and makes it a reality. Helena is a transformational leader able to inspire and empower individuals to unlock their potential and innovate to accelerate growth.

Currently, as a Management and Business Consultant at Drop of Milk, she is supporting international and ambitious companies in a definition of their Business and Commercial strategy, spearheading major strategic transformations through digitalization, and supporting organizational development to achieve higher impact through innovation and delivery of customer value. Helena is respected as a credible voice in decision making, establishing strategic partnerships, and a flexible professional while adjusting to changing priorities.

Your comment will appear on this page upon moderator's approval