Looking to elevate the perception of marketing in your organization? Have your sights set on becoming the next Director or VP? People that I've worked with have pulled it off. So can you.
This is the first article in a series that explores the initiatives on which you should focus to grow your influence while growing revenue for your organization. If you're already a VP, this series should help you maximize impact on growth as you cherry pick initiatives you may not yet have tackled.
Initiative #1: Prove Your Worth
The extent to which marketers have any power or strategic influence within their organizations is vastly polarized in the b2b space. On one end of the spectrum are marketers that are considered a service bureau to the sales team. They are generally activity driven - executing sales materials and programs at the behest of sales. On the other end of the spectrum are marketers that are integral leaders within the organization. They have great influence on corporate strategy, drive growth for their company, and work in partnership with sales. In between these two scenarios are various states of - one can hope - transformation and elevation. What separates those with a seat at the head of the table from the rest? They quantitatively prove that investing in marketing represents the best return on the organization's resources.
So how do you do that? The foundational measurement tool to proving marketing's impact on growth is a shared sales and marketing funnel. Also called a "demand waterfall" by those who subscribe to the intelligent growth analyst firm SiriusDecisions.
With a functional demand waterfall, you'll be much better equipped to: defend your marketing programs, defend your budget, be a proactive rather than reactive strategic planner, and close the reporting loop on ROI for better investment decisions.
If you know what a demand waterfall is, then skip to waterfall maturity, below. If not, keep reading. A demand waterfall or funnel is a shared view, between marketing and sales, of an organization's lead development success. Analyzing it provides insight into the health of an organization's demand function and the plays required to improve performance. While the stages it tracks should be adapted to suit your particular scenario, it generally consists of four major phases by which marketers can measure and report on leads:
- Inquiry: This first phase tracks inbound and outbound interactions with people that show interest in your organization. For example: a web visitor that's downloaded content and converted to a known contact in the database.
- Marketing Qualification: Measures marketing's success in nurturing and qualifying inquires into a sales ready lead. Stages in this phase may include various tele-prospecting and tele-qualification activities as well as automated nurturing.
- Sales Qualification: Leads that are accepted by sales, developed by sales or qualified by sales make up the stages in this phase.
- Closed Deals: New business won
How Mature is Your Waterfall?
In my experience companies can be categorized into one of four different states of demand waterfall maturity. The state in which your organization operates will help you determine a course of action for establishing or improving your ability to prove marketing's worth.
- Absent (We don't have one): There are still many b2b organizations that have not implemented a demand waterfall. If yours is such an organization you have a great opportunity to lead transformational change. Reach out to the sales team. Get them on board with the concept. Conduct a joint workshop between marketing and sales that identifies the waterfall that is right for your organization. See my upcoming article on implementing a demand waterfall.
- Underutilized (We have one but don't fully use it): Marketing has either established a demand waterfall in a silo, or sales is not actively participating in the agreement you made together. In either scenario you're going to need to "prime the pump" by implementing service level agreements (SLAs). You should also consider a pilot with a sales champion to establish the process, prove success and evangelize the benefits with the rest of the sales function. See my upcoming article on creating sales and marketing SLAs.
- Functional (We have one and it's working great... Sort of ): Seinfeld's lament about the difference between "making" and "holding" a reservation applies here. Capturing performance is one thing. Being able to use that information to diagnose marketing problems and identify their solutions is another. @Terry Flaherty of @SiriusDecisions developed a great model in his demand waterfall personality presentation at the #SDSummit. Check it out. And Check out my upcoming article on diagnosing the demand waterfall.
- Optimized (We have multiple demand waterfalls and can I optimize them all): Marketers with good functioning waterfalls can ramp up their sophistication by applying them in very targeted ways to specific products or business units. They also apply them as data lenses that help view performance within the context of: customer types, demand types, regions, and campaigns. Think about where using a demand waterfall could help you gain the discreet insight you need to improve a particular demand stream. See my upcoming article on the optimized demand waterfall.
So there you are. Proving your worth is the essential first step in you ascent to executive status. Have experience in this matter and want to add your insight to this article? Please comment for the benefit of those who are still on their journey. See the additional related articles to this one in upcoming posts as well as Initiative #2, coming soon.