Total Revenue Marketing Alignment-The problem.
This is part one of a two-part blog series on improving marketing alignment and building a Revenue Marketing System. Throughout this blog, I will cover some high-level challenges marketers face that cause them to miss targets and opportunities to build long-term strategies.
I have been in the digital space for over seven years working with B2B companies and had the chance to speak with some of the best digital marketers in SAAS. These marketers worked at some of the most innovative companies and had access to the best tools available today to build and measure their marketing programs. Yet, over years of conversations, I noticed that these incredibly clever marketers are held back by a recurring set of challenges. These are the top three I have encountered over the course of my conversations with B2B marketers.
- Marketing and sales alignment is more than a revenue goal; it’s a way of thinking.
- Many organizations are still practicing marketing in silos which hurts effectiveness.
- Marketing often lacks buy-in from other key organizational stakeholders, which limits their chances of success.
Most Sales and Marketing alignment is shallow.
Many marketing departments are held to revenue numbers yet still struggle to deliver consistent results. This lack of attainment hints at a broader problem. If sales and marketing alignment was as simple as holding both teams to a revenue number, most marketing teams should be seeing success. 82% of marketers find themselves held to revenue targets in conjunction with their sales peers; something more profound is causing missed revenue targets. Sales and marketing alignment can’t just be a marketing-generated pipeline. It needs to be a connection around strategy, technology, customers, and go-to-market motions. A classic outcome of “sales and marketing alignment” is a focus on sales meetings above all else and sales becoming marketing’s customers—the error of narrowing all marketing activity toward the bottom of the funnel. Having marketing’s sole focus on the bottom of the funnel is a dramatic reduction in the ability of marketing to execute strategies that promote long-term growth. Yes, leads are not as valuable as MQLs, MQLs aren’t as valuable as SQLs, and none of these lead stages are as valuable as closed revenue. But you really won’t get to build a sustainable revenue model without considering each step of the buyer’s journey. Sales are not the customers of marketing; your customers are the customers of marketing.
When teams build their go-to-market program and align their teams to revenue, they should work to keep in mind the specific needs of their customers and how they buy. That means marketing needs to approach alignment as equal to sales in the revenue equation.
It will require diving deep with your sales counterparts to understand how they interact with your prospects—educating sales about why specific programs need to run. Help sales understand why things like brand, nurture, and attribution matter for the team to be able to hit their long-term goals. Don’t fall into the trap that good marketing essentials don’t matter just because you can track revenue. And don’t let AE’s override lead sources. When you align, it needs to be around more than just targets but also “how will we get there?”
Siloing marketing disciplines hurts effectiveness.
There is an increasing number of sub-categories within marketing. They are all critical components of a modern marketing team, yet they often execute tactics in a vacuum. It’s imperative to align your different sub-organizations to an overall revenue marketing strategy. Chances are your team isn’t following any unified plan but executing tactics in a stop-and-start motion. This activity effectively negates the long-term success of any one campaign, program, or initiative. A classic example of marketing silos is when the product marketing team builds, owns, and manages a client’s website. These sites, which many of us have encountered, read like a laundry list of product features and buzzwords. Even when the content team does a great job of creating content, it’s impossible to find, and the site doesn’t help customers move through their buying process because it’s missing a natural flow. It’s likely a company made a considerable investment in a new website, and now they are looking at a site that doesn’t manage to attract, educate, inform, and convert its buyers.
To prevent challenges like this, companies must have a master go-to-marketing plan to serve as a trail marker. Let’s look at our example of a website. When websites were successful, I always encountered an interdisciplinary client committee. These teams had content marketers, marketing operations specialists, product marketers, and even sales representatives on some project levels. These teams evaluated this website against company goals and not their own. Goals like improving their brand image, owning their category, or helping achieve x% of growth ended up being the guideposts needed to make the project successful and keep everyone focused on the broader objective and not the individual tactical needs of their department or program. When considering any major marketing initiative, check and see if it requires broader strategic input to succeed. If it doesn’t, evaluate if it’s worth doing more closely.
Marketing lacks buy-in from other key stakeholders.
Marketing departments benefit from unified visions across organizations. Often marketing leaders are given revenue goals and sent off to build programs to hit their objectives without the rest of their organization. Marketing is an essential function of any organization. It shouldn’t be without appropriate support from other departments. When marketing leaders look at their broader strategic business goals, it becomes clear they need almost every department to support their go-to-market strategy, depending on their company size.
Exactly how many leaders need to be aligned depends on the scale of a company. Still, as companies grow, different departments start controlling technology, systems, and budgets essential to marketing success. An example we encounter at Demand Spring is when a client’s IT department is responsible for managing all of their technology, including essential marketing tools like marketing automation. When working with IT leaders, we often find that education about marketing practices and strategies is needed. It isn’t easy, but without frequent conversations with other departments, marketers may risk running into continual roadblocks in executing their programs and missing deadlines. When evaluating a program, technology, or strategy, make sure to understand which stakeholders may hold you back; that will allow you to loop them in early and be more successful.
To squeeze effectiveness out of an increasingly complex economic environment, marketing teams must align holistically towards a unified customer-centric strategy that combines technology, goals, and resources across their organization and delivers revenue. At Demand Spring, we call this the Revenue Marketing System. We will explore the various components of this system in part two and dive into how you can begin practicing it within your organization.