“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill
In a recent blog, I scratched the surface of revenue-generation marketing and how we’re transforming marketing from a cost center to a revenue generating center within Cisco. This week, I want to dig a little deeper.
Marketing that contributes measurable ROI to the bottom line… that sounds great, right? But how do you get there? The core of revenue-generation marketing and what makes it work is the partnership between sales and marketing. And, the first step of revenue-generation marketing is alignment of the revenue-generation marketing plan with the overall business plan for the company. Without that, the whole revenue-generation marketing process, from executing to managing the funnel with account teams and having regular funnel management business reviews, won’t work. You have to execute against the priorities of the business overall.
As marketing organizations transition into a revenue generators, an almost natural shift happens. Marketing begins speaking the language of the business and sales. We talk about planning, forecast, pipeline, bookings and revenue. Marketing hasn’t historically done that, so there’s another evolution occurring in the industry.
From a sales and marketing revenue alignment perspective, you obviously want to align on priorities with sales. But at the end of the day, what makes the marketing plan a revenue-generation marketing plan is the fact that a revenue contribution target is set, either focused on pipeline or bookings and revenue. That target is usually set or communicated as a percentage of sales. According to Sirius Decisions, the industry standard for business to business (B2B), high-tech marketing contribution-to-revenue baselines is that >$5 billion companies source less than 10 percent of sales pipeline, with high of 20 percent and a low of 2 percent of sales pipeline. The industry standard provides a baseline of where you want to be. At that point, you need to realistically evaluate where you are – your run rate and marketing’s current contribution to revenue.
Beyond run rate, there are only three levers for driving this plan: volume, visibility, and conversion rate. What volume of leads are you driving; how much of that is visibly available and reportable in your sales force or customer relationship management systems; and how much of that is being accepted and converted by the sales team into the pipeline or revenue?
Now we’re humming along. We’re aligned. We’re speaking the language. We’ve set our contribution revenue target based on industry standards. The “Rocky” theme song splits the air, and we’re on top of the world. Well, not quite yet. Now that we’ve taken a look at our plan from a top-down perspective, it’s time to reverse engineer the demand waterfall to determine if the revenue contribution target is realistic. By calculating the amount you need in sales all the way back to how many leads you’re going to have to source to reach that number, the bottom-up piece meets the top-down piece, and you can adjust your revenue contribution goal based on if you have the budget and resources to meet that number.
As you know, that number at Cisco is $1 billion worth of qualified leads in midmarket for partners this fiscal year. We’re here to help you position your business for success, and I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments section or via twitter @sherriliebo.