Tag Archives: Revenue planning

Creating a Funnel-Driven Marketing Plan Your CEO Will Love

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.

 

 

 

How Long is Your Revenue Runway?

Many business managers I speak with don’t have an accurate view of how long their revenue runway is; or to put the metaphor aside for a moment, they are unclear about how much time is required for the marketing and sales team to create enough customers to achieve a revenue target. Almost without exception the estimated time to revenue is perceived as being much shorter than it is in reality. The misperception is dangerous. It leads to wildly inaccurate forecasts, wasted budgets, and unnecessary management turnover.

Ask any pilot and they’ll tell you with a high degree of accuracy the length of runway their plane needs for takeoff depending on weight of the aircraft and environmental factors. They can also tell you at what ground speed their plane achieves the necessary lift for takeoff. If their plane is a G5 it needs 5, 150 feet of runway to take off. If it is a 777-200 there better be at least 8, 300 feet of black top in front of it.

If knowing when a given level of revenue can be achieved is so critical, why do companies get it so wrong? It’s because they are only looking at the late stages of their funnel and ignoring the time necessary to find and nurture prospective buyers (the mid and early stages) to the point where Sales should engage. They’ve been trapped in the “Sales Cycle” mentality rather than adopt the “Buying Cycle” perspective.

Recently while creating an integrated Sales and Marketing plan for a client, I asked the management team to tell me the length of their sales cycle. They estimated it was 8-12 weeks. They had historical data to show that once a prospect was talking with them about the problem they hoped to solve it took 8-12 weeks to advance to a point where a purchase decision was made.

Unfortunately, if they had built their business plan and cash flow projection based on that information they would have crashed and burned just like a G5 with only 2,000 feet of runway.

What hadn’t been taken into consideration was the amount of time Marketing required to attract and nurture buyers. In the case of my client, once all the stages of the buyer’s journey were identified, they estimated that the early and middle stages of the funnel took 38 weeks. So the time it will take to find, nurture, and close a prospect actually will be 50 weeks–nearly one year–not 8-12 weeks.

This knowledge enabled us to build a realistic demand generation plan to support short term and long term revenue objectives.

The other factor impacting time to revenue is internal bureaucracy. For some companies the amount of time it takes for Marketing to plan and implement a program or campaign is ridiculous. Companies who want to be more nimble and aggressive must take a critical look at the approval processes for marketing budgets and content. Does an email campaign really need five managers to sign off on it? Why make Marketing jump through another set of hoops to get approval for a specific program budget if it has an approved budget for the quarter? Worse yet, why is that the president or the Board have to sign off on a $10,000 program? Tight fiscal restraints can choke the life out of Marketing momentum and extend the time to revenue. It’s far better to hire good managers, approve budgets well in advance, and let them manage to the budget.

Don’t let expectations be set that your revenue cycle is shorter (or longer) than it really is. Marketing and Sales have to collaborate in the planning process in order to create the right model for the company.

Tips for Transforming your Company’s Revenue Engine (Marketers, this is for you too)

There are common blocks to achieving revenue breakthroughs in any organization. By breakthrough I mean a result that is unexpected, unusual, BIG.

Those obstacles are:

  1. Market/product factors
  2. Time restraints
  3. Budget restraints
  4. Skill gaps
  5. Relationship gaps
  6. Process / technology gaps
  7. Alignment gaps

More than one obstacle  is usually present, but only one out of the seven tends to trump all the others in my experience.

On October 12 I’m co-presenting a free webinar that looks at how revenue breakthroughs have been achieved by aligning the culture and processes of Marketing and Sales.

Attendees will be given opportunity to calculate their Alignment Index during the webinar and estimate the costs of mis-alignment to their organization. We’ll also look at specific techniques that have been used very successfully to align the processes and culture of Marketing and Sales and the results.

If contributing to revenue growth excites you, and lack of alignment frustrates you please join us online on October 12 for this webinar. The event is sponsored by marketing automation vendor, Leadformix, but our program is not a pitch for marketing automation or any other technology.

World-Class or Dysfunctional? Calculate Your Alignment Index

A colleague and I have created what may be the first attempt to quantify alignment in Sales and Marketing. We kept it simple, but the calculation takes culture and process into consideration–something too many executives and consultants over-look in a rush to install a quick fix.

The purpose of the Alignment Index(tm) is simply to put a face and a cost on mis-alignment.

This short slide presentation gives more details about it. http://www.slideshare.net/cbesondy/alignment-score-4456019

Feeling the Impact of the 9-Month Year Yet?

I know some of you are sweating bullets right now. The end of Q1 is near. Your revenue and marketing objectives may be in jeopardy.  Here’s why the first fiscal quarter for a lot of companies is painful.

If Q1 is tough you’re probably feeling the impact of a 9-month year. The problem is you put the hurt on yourself. Yep, you caused the panic in Q1 if:

  1. The 2010 sales and marketing  plan/budget wasn’t approved by October 2009
  2. Marketing and sales funds for 2010 programs weren’t made available until January
  3. Sales and marketing were completely consumed in Q4 on moving buyers through the last few stages of the funnel
  4. Sales and marketing don’t know what the lag time is for each stage of their revenue funnel.

Any one of these things will throw a big wrench into the revenue-generation gears for Q1. Instead of moving the necessary volume of buyers through the funnel during the first quarter, many of you were just getting plans approved and starting to execute. No way can you impact Q1 revenue if the length of your average sales cycle is 8 weeks or more and campaigns are launched in late January or so.

Getting out of the blocks quickly with your sales and marketing programs  is only a part of the solution. The real focus has to be on maintaining rhythmic continuity of sales and marketing tactics through Q4 so each stage of the funnel has the right number of buyers necessary to achieve the Q1 revenue target. (If you don’t know how many buyers are needed at each stage you have an even bigger obstacle to revenue growth).

If it’ll take  the Board until late November or December to approve the operating budget ask for a reasonable baseline budget well in advance so you can commit to January-February programs.

Don’t let yourself be trapped trying to achieve a 12-month revenue number with only 9 months of runway.