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It’s generally accepted that marketing’s responsibility is filling the top of the funnel through brand awareness and content marketing efforts while the sales team is ultimately responsible for winning new business. This old-school thinking has perpetuated the perception that marketing is a cost center with sales as the revenue engine. It’s this thinking that creates a rift between both organizations and often stifles company growth.
The bottom line is that your revenue team needs to be reimagined. In fact, Forrester found that up to 74 percent of the buying process is complete before a buyer ever speaks to a sales rep. Forrester’s research also reiterates that people don’t like to be sold to. I can personally attest to that, as I hardly respond to an unsolicited message or phone call.
This is a new (marketing) world order, particularly with the convergence of ad tech and mar tech. Marketers now have more profound insights into the buyer’s journey (albeit, fragmented), and vice versa. Your target audience now has more tools than ever to assess whether your company solves their needs. This is the forcing function that companies need to reevaluate when staffing for growth and determining how to invest in full-funnel marketing efforts.
Don’t ignore leading indicators
Digital marketing has given marketers countless, sometimes superficial metrics to measure. Due to this, leadership often ignores leading indicators in light of revenue and therefore never questions revenue. Don’t ignore your leading indicators; they’re precursors to a sale, and without website traffic, you don’t get website conversions. And without conversions, did you actually improve your bottom-line?
At the same time, net new sales should be looked at with the same scrutiny as leads. You could be bringing in a lot of leads and closing a lot of deals, but are those customers staying with your company or are they just one-time buyers? Look at the entire funnel, scrutinize closed wins, analyze your cost of acquiring a customer (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLTV) and overturn rates. The results might surprise you.
Growth is a cultural mindset
It’s not enough just to rethink how to measure success; it’s about mindset, too. Throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to make a growth mindset part of the very fabric of your company culture, no matter the size or stage of your company.
But it starts at the top. It all starts with asking the right questions. Are the growth goals backed by data, or are they based on a finger-in-the-wind math? Did you evaluate your market opportunity by performing a market sizing exercise? What is your total addressable market (TAM), serviceable addressable market (SAM) and your share of that market (SOM)?
Goals that are too aggressive can restrict growth. Most importantly, growth has to become part of your company culture; it can’t be in opposition. You must align goals to intrinsic motivators. For sales, that’s often revenue targets; for marketers, they realize revenue is important, but growth goals can be aligned behind building a brand; and for the product team, it might be around category development.
Let’s be real about growth: Not all growth is good. To realize growth, we need to understand the entire funnel and not ignore leading indicators. It’s also about saying no and understanding how you employ growth as part of your company culture. And lastly, marketing needs a seat at the growth table.