How can marketing make a meaningful impact to sales-led organizations, specifically with in-quarter revenue running short?
This has to be one of the most frustrating situations for the CMO.
Everything has been copasetic for the last 6 weeks, all departments have operated in seeming harmony, and then the CEO, CFO, or sales leader walks in and drops the battleground question.
We say battleground because this is typically where fingers are pointed. The leads aren’t quality. The lead scores are inaccurate. The sales team isn’t following up. Tempers rise, voices are elevated, and everyone is frustrated.
The Bluebird of Happiness, is essentially, something that luckily lands on your shoulder and provides good fortune. Such as a deal closing a quarter or two before it was forecast. In this case, it is represented by what we call the bluebird question of in-quarter revenue production.
To head off this dreaded question marketers must pivot to understanding and speaking more sales-based metrics. Preventing it is wonderful but what happens if you have this problem now?
In this article we are going to offer a cheat sheet to try and help the marketer with short-term bluebirds. Before we do, we will explore how our clients have tackled the issue. We will start with how to see the need for bluebirds forming, where to find bluebirds, and preventing the need for bluebird revenue.
Marketers need to be more than casually familiar with sales metrics, specifically the waterfall chart, and the average length of closed won business. Instead of covering each category in depth, this is a preview.
Sales coverage equals the opportunities that you start a quarter with plus what will be added to the quarter from marketing and sales activities. The amount of sales coverage you need is determined by what typically converts in any quarter. A standard benchmark is 3.2x. Meaning if you need to close $1MM you will need $3.2MM in opportunity value that is expected to close in that quarter.
At the beginning of a quarter (far left, blue) you have the Q1 pipeline. The green is what is expected to be added. As the sales team works the opportunities some will be pushed to future quarters (changing the forecasted close date from this quarter to a future quarter). Some will be confirmed as lost, some will be confirmed as won, the remainder is essentially an active pipeline or pushed at the change of the quarter.
In order to be in the addition category the sales team must accept the lead and convert it into an opportunity. There are two primary reasons that the marketer will be approached with a bluebird question.
Scenario 1: Marketing added in enough coverage, but more was pushed or lost than normal.
Scenario 2: Marketing didn’t contribute enough additions or the additions came too late to close in the same quarter.
So there’s a shortfall. Most marketers, when approached, are surprised by the question. You must track the entire pipeline as a marketer. You should be the one to call out when the waterfall is outside of performance norms. We will cover steps to take in the last section of what you can do, but that is something that will affect next quarter. What can you do today to affect today?
We have created a cheat sheet (pdf, ungated) to help you hunt for leads and opportunities that can have a more immediate impact towards revenue. After opening the cheat sheet, look at the right column labeled “IN-QUARTER IMPACT”.
You are looking for anything that could have slipped through the cracks or been pushed too early.
Our secret here is to evaluate all of marketing (and sales) through the velocity lens. Add velocity to measures like ROI, time between lead statuses, and sales stages.
The right column of the cheat sheet takes you through 6 phases of marketing management so that you can ensure coverage and eliminate the need for bluebirds in the future. The phases of marketing evaluation are: Prepare, Plan, Predict, Monitor, Improve, Invest.
You can certainly go through these steps manually, utilizing spreadsheets to combine reports from various software instances (such as marketing automation, the CRM, workflow tools, advertising platforms, BI tools, etc, etc, etc.). Of course, we built Growegy to do all of that because we were tired of the manual work and the error-prone nature of spreadsheets.
Regardless of how you manage this work, the marketer needs to be in a position to pivot away from underperforming programs and towards channels that are moving the needle. Without taking a data-driven approach the CMO will be forced into a defensive position that leads to a shorter tenure at a company.
The CEO, CFO, and sales leader will always be more focused on the current quarter. The CMO must be the leader looking around the corner. It is a much better conversation to approach the executive team and raise awareness that unless you change or accelerate the programs and spend that you will end up with a shortfall next quarter.
Give your teams enough time to work with other departments on solutions that meet revenue goals. Otherwise no one wins, the Bluebird of Happiness doesn’t land on marketing shoulders all that often.
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