Marketing is evolving and so must the marketer and the marketing agency. Company management and marketers alike have to acknowledge that the skills, processes, technologies and channels necessary for effectiveness are very different from the past (even 5 years ago).
This doesn’t come as a surprise to companies with a level of marketing sophistication who have marketers that invest in “staying current”. It can be quite a shock for companies who have a 1990’s mind-set about marketing.
I’ve written on this topic before. Where are You in the Evolution from Mad Men to Marketing Geek?
Marketo, one of the leading marketing automation vendors, has published an excellent (if self-serving) Infographic about the marketing agency of the future. Caution: objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. While the Infographic proclaims theses characteristics as required for “the future”; I suggest the future is now.
Will your next revenue plan clearly show how marketing and sales will work together to implement the company strategy? Will it convincingly and mathematically model how the two organizations will apply tactics that advance enough buyers through the pipeline/funnel to achieve the revenue objectives? If your budget is cut by 20% before approval, can you quickly show the impact of that cut on demand generation and revenue generation?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions I urge you register for my October 3 workshop at DemandCon in Boston. Fittingly enough, the workshop is entitled, “Creating a Funnel-Driven Marketing Plan Your CEO will Love.” This is a certified workshop for sales and marketing professionals that reveals advanced techniques and best practices for increasing revenue volume and velocity by using integrated and aligned funnel planning. It’s not just a planning process, it’s a an amazingly effective way to align sales and marketing for utmost effectiveness.
With all the marketing and sales jargon floating around, it is not surprising that some confusion exists around what certain terms mean. Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas Group, noticed that many of the clients he worked with were confused about what demand generation and lead management were, and how the two worked together. So, he did a whiteboard series with Marketing Automation Software Guide, an online resource that provides reviews of marketing automation solutions. Carlos explains the difference between the two, as well as how marketing automation is a powerful tool for supporting the strategy you build around demand gen and lead management.
Most of what he says is pretty spot-on. My only modification would be to point out that individuals who leak from the funnel should be recycled by marketing with a special program until they are ready to progress again. This can be done with your marketing automation system.
Check out Carlos’ great whiteboard session and be sure to leave your comments below.
Companies considering the adoption of a marketing automation system are advised to read this excellent post by Matt Smith of 3forward, and then look in the mirror. Matt’s article on the Marketing Automation Software Guide blog identifies four company characteristics that pretty much sum up the types of hurdles one can expect when moving to a marketing automation platform.
- Afraid of the water
- Blissfully ignorant
- Content challenged
- Buried in bureaucracy
Matt also suggests a “simple” solution for sales and marketing alignment, which I recommend that companies view as a starting point only. Companies who are developing and following best practices in this area are tackling the stubborn issue on more fronts, as I outlined in a previous post here, The Top-10 Processes that Align Sales and Marketing.
Below is a list of the primary processes in Sales and Marketing that the two departments need to align and keep aligned over time. These processes exist at some level of maturity and sophistication in every company, whether formalized and documented, or informal and ad hoc. They are seldom equally shared. If Sales and Marketing are not working as partners to create and manage these processes, the revenue engine cannot operate at full potential.
These processes, and those in other departments that impact Sales effectiveness, are the subject of a white paper, “The Internal Forces that Empower or Impair Sales”, which provides critical reading for any sales executive who spends too much time lobbying inside his company for better support.
- Funnel stage definition: defining the buyer’s journey and designing the sales funnel stages correspondingly.
- Lead qualification and scoring: defining at what stage in the funnel a contact becomes a marketing-qualified lead and then a sales-qualified lead.
- Forecasting and reporting: a forecast is supported by the funnel metrics; these metrics are impacted jointly by Sales and Marketing.
- Lead nurturing: communicating with contacts and leads in the funnel in such a way that they advance through the stages efficiently.
- Lead recycling: when to return stalled leads back to Marketing and how to apply further nurturing.
- Customer retention and growth: how Marketing and Sales work to keep and grow customers.
- Market requirements: the way Marketing taps Sales for input to the market requirement document.
- Strategic account planning: the way Sales taps Marketing for support with strategic account identification and development.
- Quarterly planning: jointly developing and tracking revenue-generation plans and campaigns.
- Content and collateral development: how Marketing works with Sales to define and deliver the right sales tools.
I read an excellent post on Marketing Automation Software.com by Mac MacConnel of BlueBird Strategies that gave savvy advice for companies that have just inked a deal for a marketing automation (MA) system.
His article highlighted the speed bumps that can hinder ROI for marketing automation right from the start.
The three speed bumps are, according to MacConnel:
- Lack of fresh inquiries
- Lack of good content to offer leads
- A weak lead scoring model
MacConnel’s article reminded me of how important an aligned sales and marketing plan is to the full and rapid realization of a MA system’s benefits.
In companies where Sales and Marketing aren’t properly aligned around the funnel the process of adopting a MA system will be more painful and take more time. Ask anyone who has been there.
In companies where Sales and Marketing are already ‘on the same page’, the adoption of a powerful MA system will turbo charge the revenue engine quickly because the biggest speed bumps will have already been removed.
I’m a proponent of aligning Sales and Marketing through a rigorous funnel planning process BEFORE adopting marketing automation. Just like learning to drive is a smart precursor before buying a car, so is aligning Sales and Marketing a smart precursor to a marketing automation investment.
How does an aligned revenue plan (funnel plan) prevent or minimize the speed bumps MacConnel warns us about?
- A continual source of fresh inquiries. Teams that are wedded to an aligned funnel plan know exactly how many fresh names need to be drawn into the funnel and nurtured through the funnel stages. Through modeling and testing they will already have a good idea of what tactics should be employed and with what rhythm to ensure a continual flow.
- Good content relevant to the buyer. Teams that are aligned around the buyer’s journey and are clear about the buyer’s problem they are solving are in a better position to know what content should be provided at different stages in the funnel. The right funnel planning process for Marketing and Sales aids the team in achieving higher levels of buyer insight, which leads to better content development.
- Smart lead scoring. Teams that have defined the stages of a revenue funnel with complete empathy for the buyer’s journey are going to create better lead scoring rules. They will be more aware of the buyer’s behaviors that signal different levels of interest. This knowledge of ‘interest’, when added to demographic and firmographic information for ‘fit’ results in sophisticated lead scoring.
Companies can adopt MA the hard way or the easy way. The easy way is to first get Marketing and Sales aligned via a funnel planning (revenue planning) process.
Aligned companies compensate Marketing and Sales differently than nonaligned companies. http://ow.ly/1qL4S Good post and discussion.