When you think of revenue marketing, odds are you think of lead generation and marketing automation, right?
It’s true, those items are important aspects of the profession. But, they’re only half of the equation.
For a deeper dive, let’s take a look at the term “revenue marketing,” which was coined in 2010 by the Pedowitz Group:
A revenue marketer is a specific type of marketer (like product, Marcom, etc.) who has revenue or revenue-related accountability through the kinds of campaigns, communications and digital interactions they set up and measure across the entire client life cycle.
While the industry has largely acknowledged and adopted this mindset, marketing automation and online advertising have essentially stolen the phrase “revenue marketing” and, through sheer volume of voice, have given the impression that it’s just about tracking leads. To be fair, marketing automation has done wonders for marketing in its ability to measure the effectiveness of demand generation. But marketing’s job isn’t done at lead hand-off — the true revenue marketer doesn’t quit until the sale has been booked (and, really, not even then).
An ROI mindset
Revenue marketing is a mindset that says everyone on the go-to-market side of the business should do everything possible, within the realm of responsibility, to increase revenue. As the old adage goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So, logically, in order to improve revenue, we must measure the impact of our efforts.
Marketing automation empowers measurement
The revenue marketer’s ability to measure impact on sales really took off with the adoption of marketing automation. It enabled the ability to run nearly any digital campaign and measure its impact on creating leads, SQLs, opportunities and sales. This closed-loop process — a process that provides feedback on the performance of an operation — is critical to optimizing performance and thus critical to the revenue marketer.
Without a technology platform on which to run programs and measure and analyze their performance, it’s impossible to know what works. Marketing automation gives revenue marketers the ability to manage their impact on revenue by providing the ability to measure performance.
Revenue marketers and bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) activities
It goes without saying that marketing has made great strides in performance improvement in Top-of-the-Funnel (ToFu) activities such as advertising and lead generation. But supporting sales in Bottom-of-the-Funnel activities generally gets pushed to the back burner, garnering a fraction of the marketing budget, many fewer resources and no performance analytics. And, yet, there is so much more the revenue marketer could do to help sales increase lead conversion rates.
In reality, we can learn from the success of marketing automation on ToFu activities and apply the same principles to the lower half of the sales cycle. It all boils down to understanding the needs of every buyer to:
- Create compelling content for sales that engages the buyer and progresses the deal
- Develop messaging and positioning that drives value, differentiates and convinces the prospect to buy
- Train sales on product and message
Most of these activities are co-mingled with the responsibilities of sales enablement and often they’re overlooked, undervalued or deemphasized in favor of the search for the almighty lead. The truth is they can be equally as valuable and measurable as lead generation with a proper sales enablement practice.
The rise of the sales enablement function in recent years is good news for revenue marketers because its real purpose is to bridge between marketing and sales to increase revenue. This bridge can also help neutralize the finger pointing between sales and marketing that so often stalls progress.
Let’s take a moment and break down the two major areas in the BoFu that sales enablement can help bridge with marketing: content and messaging/positioning. The third area — training — is a direct result of getting the first two items right.
It’s largely undisputed that producing content is the responsibility of marketing, but the vast majority of marketing organizations don’t measure the performance of their content on advancing sales.
In fact, marketing organizations spend millions of dollars on content and 65 percent of the content produced for sales is wasted. This, of course, is an insane loss monetarily, but the opportunity cost in not getting the sales team the right content is far greater. Marketing needs to be able to measure the use and effectiveness of its content to ensure that sales reps are finding and using their content, and that it is helping sales close deals.
Messaging and positioning
Messaging clearly comes from marketing through many channels, including sales collateral, pitch presentations, email templates and sales training. The irony is that most corporate marketers spend very little time in the field talking to customers.
An organization’s top sales reps are its best source for which messages, value props and pitches resonate with customers. Technology can also help close the loop by measuring which content resonates with customers, drives deals forward and has the greatest impact on revenue. We need to close the loop between the marketers who produce the content and the sales reps, customers and other sources that influence the messaging.
Much like in the marketing automation world, closing the loop requires both process and technology. The sales enablement group is in the right position to drive the process that aligns sales reps and marketers together to discuss and modify messaging. And sales enablement technology provides the objective data on which content is most effective in engaging customers, helping advance sales and influencing revenue. With real-time feedback, marketers can more quickly adjust and improve content quality.
Making sales enablement a priority for the revenue marketer
Organizations are improving their sales enablement operations and forming dedicated teams at an aggressive rate. Recent research from Aberdeen Group shows that best-in-class organizations have seen incredible benefit from sales enablement, including a 50 percent improvement in sales quota attainment and a 200 percent advantage in revenue growth over average companies.
Four steps to add sales enablement to the revenue marketing plan
1. Make sales enablement a priority
a. Establish a team, with goals, priorities and definition; establish a core group of people with a mandate for improving the process
b. This framework from SiriusDecisions is very helpful in defining this critical first step
2. Fix the pipeline
a. Make sure all content is housed in one easy-to-use, cloud-based, mobile-enabled and highly functional system (no more SharePoint libraries!) that enables the sales team to organize content in the way they need it
b. Map content to the buyer’s journey, by product line and segment; assess gaps and iterate accordingly
c. Integrate with CRM
3. Enable content performance analytics to measure the effectiveness of content and pitches in the sales process including:
a. Content usage by sales, and various sales teams
b. Customer engagement
c. Pitch performance
d. Influenced stage conversion
e. Influenced revenue
4. Create the processes to align sales and marketing and analyze, improve, optimize
a. Create a cadence by which performance is reviewed and improvements are made
b. Work with sales to test theories, understand why changes were made, and create an improvement plan
c. Execute, rinse and repeat, making sure to document what works and what doesn’t to make each iteration better than the last
Taking revenue marketing to the next level
In summary, we know that revenue marketers commonly over-index to lead generation instead of end-to-end campaign development, you can’t manage what you can’t measure and best-in-class organizations leverage both sales enablement functions and technologies to bridge the gap between marketing and sales.
The bottom line is that the most effective way to deliver improved revenue results in almost any organization is to invest in an end-to-end sales enablement practice. If you need proof in the pudding, Aberdeen found that 60 percent of best-in-class organizations have a formal competency to ensure that marketing has extensive visibility into the sales team’s utilization of content.
Check out this complete list of Sales Enablement Tools and Software.
Jeff Day is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and a 15-year veteran of sales enablement. As a marketing leader for companies including Apptio, HP, Sun and PolyServe and the VP of Sales for DomainTools, Jeff understands the potential of a well-trained, empowered and enabled sales force. Jeff’s current mission is to elevate the role of sales enablement professionals by helping them drive continuous productivity improvement across their sales teams. Follow him on Twitter.
Highspot discusses leveraging sales enablement functions and technologies in revenue marketing to bridge the gap between marketing and sales.