Marketing ROI Requires Strong Alignment With Sales

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Debbie Qaqish, The Pedowitz Group
Debbie Qaqish, The Pedowitz Group

How can marketers balance short- and long-term ROI goals?

How? Three words: Align to sales. It's the only way to achieve short- and long-term ROI goals. This connection is why revenue marketing, which transforms marketing from a cost center to a revenue center, is a growing area of interest. I've confirmed this over recent weeks in conducting in-depth interviews with various marketing leaders for a book I'm writing on the topic. One of the most consistent findings is that aligning with sales is fundamental and required to achieve short- and long-term marketing ROI.

Here's how to do it:

1. Don't pretend. You can't get to ROI without revenue, so don't pretend. And who ultimately owns revenue? Sales. At the same time, today's B2B marketing organization also has accountability for revenue. For example, the majority of marketing executives I interviewed for the book said marketing was responsible for such areas as percent and dollar contribution to the pipeline and closed business. As I recently heard one VP of marketing comment, “Activity metrics do not matter. No other metric except a bottom-line revenue metric really matters.”

2. Mirror the sales organization in structure and focus. One of the marketers I interviewed told me that when sales restructured around a solution or geography, so did marketing. The rationale was simple. Sales reorganized because they thought it would have more impact on revenue. So it follows that if marketing is helping impact revenue, they would need to restructure, as well. In every interview I conducted, the marketing organization not only knew the revenue goals for sales, but also was organized and aligned around the achievement of that number. One global marketing organization looked at their top 20 growth initiatives and aligned around impacting revenue in all of these initiatives. They created a fully integrated nurture series to help support the initiatives, drive awareness, and close business.

3. Focus every day on ROI. Your marketing group needs to have a focus on ROI, not get to the end of a quarter or the end of the year and say, “OK, let's see how we did on ROI.” In 2012 we worked with the Lenskold Group on a study to find out how a revenue-focused approach to marketing impacted organizations. One key finding is captured in the chart below, showing that marketing groups actually use ROI metrics, and make it part of their everyday life, outperform those that don't, on seven elements out of eight.

While cost is a major element, your ability to use revenue metrics and to forecast the revenue impact you'll make on the company is music to the VP of sales' ears. Coming into a revenue meeting and being able to provide this kind of visibility into a funnel that is repeatable, predictable, and scalable means that you have closely aligned with sales to create a revenue continuum in the company.

4. Enable sales. There are so many smart marketing technologies that actually enable sales. One marketer I recently interviewed told me the story of how they enabled sales with insight from a marketing automation tool. This allowed salespeople to have control over their own mini-campaigns, and gave them real-time digital insight into what prospects and clients were doing online. One rep used this system and got key appointments with an enterprise company that quickly moved to not just one deal, but a series of closed deals. This is quick ROI.

The key takeaway from this article is this: Don't mess around trying to be successful with either short- or long-term ROI without alignment with sales. Working in the back room to run a calculation based on fuzzy math is not going to cut it. Get that alignment with sales, mirror their focus, make ROI every day, and your success at attaining short- and long-term ROI will be achieved.

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Debbie Qaqish, The Pedowitz Group

For Debbie Qaqish, the path toward becoming principal partner and chief strategy officer for revenue marketing agency The Pedowitz Group was a considerable risk. She left the security of corporate America and partnered with Jeff Pedowitz. The agency now has 60 employees—growth that was both tremendous and an unexpected surprise. Qaquish is a pioneer in marketing automation, fi rst benefi tting from the technology and now advocating and offering her expert advice on how to implement and use it. Currently, she's working on a Ph.D. Her passions beyond work and academia include hiking and steampunk culture—a science fi ction sub-genre that combines Victorian fashion with a heavily industrialized aesthetic. Qaqish's fi rst book Rise of the Revenue Marketer, which clearly is not about steampunk, will be published later this year.

 

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