With many of us hitting the road for holiday road trips, we’re reminded of those eternal truths passed down by word and deed over generations:
If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.
When applied to planning vacations, we mean creating packing checklists, confirming your reservations, etc.
Don’t be too stubborn to stop and ask for directions along the way. You’ll get there far faster and happier.
For B2B marketers, summer means that you’re far down the road in executing your 2017 marketing plan, and starting to compare results to performance targets.
What’s the best way to keep your plan headed in the right direction?
In the event that, like many marketers, you haven’t fully planned around KPIs, let’s take a step back to adjust in-route.
Then, let’s apply that second piece of vacation advice by turning to your teammates and to your data: continually adjusting your plans, and doing so using those specific, agreed-upon KPIs.
Step 1: Build an Integrated Conversion Funnel (mapping the journey)
First things first: this process requires that you bring marketing and sales together if you have not already done so.
Every B2B business establishes sales pipeline targets and you surely have marketing conversion goals. Just don't overcomplicate it. As few moving parts as possible, please.
The key is to build a continuous marketing-through-sales funnel with shared definitions and (measurable) conversion assumptions at each phase.
But, if you’ve already gone through this exercise in your strategic planning, feel free to move to step three (with our admiration).
For each major conversion point:
- Agree on vocabulary and definitions (Hint: For better results, you can find many commonly used conversion benchmarks online).
- Get representatives from sales and marketing in a room.
- Hammer out an end-to-end funnel.
- Set up conversion metrics that everyone agrees with.
Here’s what this might look like at the end of your session:
Definitions and Conversion Assumptions*
||Someone who is known to sales but has not been contacted, or who has visited our site or viewed some social content but is otherwise a stranger.
||A suspect (either a decision maker or influencer) who we know works at a company relevant to what we sell.
||A prospect who, based on an agreed-upon level of engagement with marketing content, has been passed to sales and qualified as having enough potential to convert into the pipeline.
||A lead that has been pitched by sales and converted into the opportunity pipeline to close.
||An opportunity that has been successfully closed.
|Average deal size
This example uses a common model but can be adjusted to whatever steps make sense for your organization. Just remember: the more steps in your model, the more chances to be wrong in your assumptions. Conversion percentages of 10% were used for easy math.
Step 2: The Gut Check—populate your model and test (reality check)
Don't let your sales and marketing team leave the room just yet. You’ll need to make sure that these targets actually make sense in the real world.
Without the gut check phase, lots of bad things can and do happen at the tactical level of both sales and marketing down the road. Remember: if you have the time, use it.
Step 3: Review performance, identify shortfalls and develop a hypothesis (asking for directions)
Demand generation in B2B requires us to humbly embrace, even welcome failure.
Once some time has passed, reassemble the marketing and sales working group. And then, keep doing it. Look at your pipeline at regular intervals, and keep some things in mind as you do so:
- Which conversion assumptions are not being met?
- Do we need to loosen or tighten criteria? Adjust our definitions?
- Do we need to focus on bolstering one part of the funnel—say, top of funnel suspects, mid-funnel leads, etc.?
- If so, what tactics might we add or change?
You get the idea.
Time and time again, we've found that bringing sales and marketing together to build shared pipeline models, and then keeping them in lockstep with each other as time progresses, leads to repeatable, realistic demand generation strategies with results that draw cheers from the C-Suite.
Need help pulling this off? Let’s talk. Sales and marketing integration consulting is a core part of our business.