With today's heavy focus on measurable results and ROI, savvy marketers are increasingly looking for ways to achieve bottom-line responsibilities. Traditional marketing has been focused on ideas that generate leads and opportunities, but forward-thinking marketers today know the most important thing is whether or not those leads convert to real business outcomes.
In the early goings of my career, I found myself under the management – not of traditional marketers focused on brand or messaging – but under the lead of several sales department leaders. An atypical arrangement at the time, slowly growing direct responsibility for pipeline and the quality of leads therein came to define my understanding and importance of so-called “revenue marketing”.
How Sales and Marketing have operated traditionally
Sales and marketing professionals tend to be polar opposites in terms of how they work and what they wish to accomplish; each brings unique, important points of view to the table.
Marketing professionals are typically creatively driven, concerned mostly about the art of getting people’s attention with finely tuned messaging and visuals that stop consumers in their tracks. Sales professionals on the other hand are driven largely by results, focused on closing deals to add to their revenue numbers for the year.
Historically, these two departments haven’t always known how to properly pass the baton to one another. Performance marketing (an outgrowth of Web 2.0’s highly targeted advertising capabilities) has been the holy grail of a results-oriented framework for marketers.
Responses to calls-to-action, email inquiries, or texting “YES” to a five-digit number on your cell phone have come to define the kinds of active engagements marketers consider to be a first step in earning a new customer.
In an organization where marketing and sales represent two different departments, those potential customer-executed CTAs are typically passed to an individual who is then responsible for converting those leads into sales.
There is a distinct handoff here where marketers wipe their hands clean, calling it a job well done, and sales professionals quietly wonder about the quality of the lead they’ve just been handed. A recipe for mixed success and interdepartmental side-eyes.
Reverse engineering the sale with revenue marketing
Revenue marketing is a strategy wherein marketing and sales work hand-in-hand to attribute their campaigns directly to attaining organizational revenue goals while engaging leads even after sales reps take them over. This single sentence defines the manner in which I came to understand the ideal linkages between the marketing department and the sales department. A hypothetical example would do best to demonstrate exactly what revenue marketing is in practice.
Corporation X has historically sent marketing representatives to industry conferences to man exhibit booths, have conversations with conference goers, and collect as many contacts as possible. Marketing would return to headquarters with hundreds of new contacts for the sales team to comb through, categorize, and contact.
The marketing team would move on to the next task, without concern for the quality of the contacts they collected, and pass the responsibility of closing deals to the sales department.
Questions revenue marketers need to be asking
Corporation X isn’t using the revenue marketing approach. The RM Approach would start with ROI Goalmind and work backward to the beginning.
Who are the top organizations attending the conference with whom we want to do business?
Who are the people responsible for those organizations and where can you target a conversation during or after the conference?
Is there a revenue number you can attribute to the organizations you wish to engage at the conference?
How many 1:1 meetings can we have with key accounts at this event?
These are the questions revenue marketers ask to do half of the work of what has historically been seen as the job of the sales team. When marketing is approached through this lens, two things happen.
First, you can identify specific organizations that you want to convert and tie a target revenue number to said organization. Understanding who your future prospects are (or could be) is the first step in plotting out the who and how much to effectively channel the appropriate ad spend, resources, and energy to the prospect.
Second, sales representatives receive a new lead with a greater sense of confidence, knowing who the prospect is, what the target revenue number should or could be, and what expectations they should have when they make contact.
In this scenario, a sales rep may very well prefer to have five high-quality prospects, as opposed to a 100-name list of emails with no information as to what they want or their likelihood of becoming a customer. In this scenario, marketers become responsible, not for bringing as many contacts as possible back for sales teams to cull through, but for doing the work ahead of time to understand who the true prospects are and where they might be in consideration of your product.
And in this scenario, an organization is likely to close more deals, more effectively and enjoy the benefits of a marketing and sales department that likes working together.
We know aligning sales and marketing can be one of the biggest challenges for CMOs. A major step towards this is knowing how to navigate the C-Suite. And our C-Suite Masterclass can teach you just how to do that.