Revenue starts with marketing

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Jon Miller
Jon Miller

It's no secret that CEOs and boards don't care about the open rate on your last e-mail campaign or how many views your last press release had. CEOs and boards care about revenue − how much revenue was made last quarter, how much this quarter, and how much next quarter.

However, the marketing department is typically left out of the revenue discussion. They get pigeonholed as the “arts and crafts” team and are viewed as a cost center to be cut rather than a revenue driver that should get investment.

Today, marketing has the opportunity to reinvent itself as a core part of a company's revenue engine. The ways that prospects research and buy solutions has been forever transformed by the abundance of information made available on websites and social networks. This reality is in turn driving a transformation in the ways that marketing and sales teams work − and work together − to drive revenue.

For example, when buyers have ready access to information, they resist engaging with sales until much later in their buying process, giving sales less visibility into future revenue. This lack of engagement is what creates the opportunity for marketing: as the function that “owns” the relationship with early-stage prospects not yet ready to engage with the sales team, marketing staff members are often in the best position to talk about future revenue trends with other employees.

To get started, marketers should begin by breaking the entire “revenue cycle” into stages (just as the sales team does for the sales cycle). For example, these stages could include the spectrum from “raw names” to “engaged” to “in-profile prospect” to “marketing lead” to “sales qualified lead” to “sales accepted opportunity” to “won business.”

By formally defining each of these individual stages, as well as the business rules that determine when a prospect moves from one stage to the next, marketers can begin to understand the dynamics of how prospects flow through the pipeline over time.

Armed with this knowledge, marketers can then use marketing analytics to start making forecasts about how prospects will flow in the future. They can also determine how the company's marketing investments today will drive pipeline and revenue tomorrow, and help their own department's prospects in the process.

Marketers that do this are in a great position to improve their organization's revenue performance, to justify and protect their own marketing budgets, and to increase their personal power and credibility within the corporate structure.

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