The reason companies operate in silos, is because of the perception of both functions and the way they are being measured as part of the company’s growth. Sales are commonly referred to as a more direct process, meeting the clients, steering them towards the purchase, whether fast or slow, being able to measure what works and what doesn’t as part of the sales cycle and, obviously, being compensated accordingly. That’s the “science” part. On the other hand, marketing is perceived as a more holistic process, designed to increase long-term brand awareness, rarely facing the clients, and companies struggle with the right way to measure the impact of this which is often referred to as a “hand-holding art”. Marketers are sometimes left behind or overlooked because they don’t own a revenue number or a pipeline creation number.
Being focused on influence or brand is great, I’m a brand marketer before I’m a revenue marketer, but you must own a revenue number. When companywide revenue goals rely on marketing finding and feeding sales with qualified leads that can turn into customers, it only makes sense that marketing should play a greater role in the pipeline.
The only way you can scale a company is when all revenue leaders are aligned, and when you are focusing on revenue and pipeline creation it is easier to have everyone steering in the same direction.
Not in front of the customer
The most important party of the pipeline isn’t sales or marketing — it’s the customer.
B2B customers usually go through a long exploration journey, and they will notice when there is a crack between marketing and sales — consumers know that brands have access to endless data about their online actions and interactions with the brand website and social platforms, so they may get upset when companies don’t use that data to interact meaningfully and in a personalized manner.
When marketing and sales work together throughout the buying process and listen to needs and insights, the right marketing content will be created and distributed through the right channels to help leads find answers, so they convert to opportunities and eventually, paying customers.
MQL/Demo conversion rate = Quality
In a perfect world, marketing should own as much top of the funnel as possible while involving sales in the initial steps of building out the marketing strategy, having a clear understanding of what the sales challenges are, and what makes a good lead interconnecting strategies to enable all stakeholders to meet and exceed companywide revenue goals.
I personally believe BDRs belong in marketing — that’s the only way to combine science and emotional triggers based on creativity. That is the path to uniting GTM strategy, messaging, positioning, and the overall customer experience. There are so many opportunities to create memorable experiences in the sales cycle when marketing is involved. But that’s obviously subjected to the type of company (channel, sales or product-led), industry, and the business model.
When measuring and addressing spending, the focus shouldn’t be the amount of MQLs but the MQL to demo conversion rate, followed by direct source attribution and demo to the opportunity created.
Multi-touch attribution is the answer to connecting marketing to the revenue stream and planning out spending efficiency and overall budgeting, allocated to marketing, sales, or both.
To avoid tensions and missed goals, marketing leaders should get their teams focused on generating valuable, viable leads for sales and then expose successes — and share how to repeat those wins — while also holding marketing team members accountable for sales revenue. If marketing is responsible for the creation of a process, they need to be responsible for the process itself and how it pans out.
The rise of the MDR
Marketing Development Representatives (MDRs) are specialized salespeople who bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs and can accelerate the sales cycle. Unlike an SDR, an MDR is more of an educator than a hunter.
While they might be asked to cold-call occasionally, they’ll largely focus on inbound conversations. They act as a kind of concierge for marketing, answering inbound calls, chats, and contact submissions. The core of their role is to connect the right people with the right content.
MDRs are obviously solid proof that things are changing — the love child of sales and marketing, trying to ensure everyone is on the same team helping bridge the marketing-sales divide.
Revenue driven solution
Marketing is a crucial part of the pipeline; we now can create a cohesive mapping of each lead and their level of awareness and engagement throughout the sales cycle. Optimizing each touchpoint is proven to reduce the time to close a deal.
Marketers must be fully involved in the performance of the company, in the sales processes, and pipeline. This doesn’t mean that marketing should take over sales. But it surely means that marketing should take ownership and responsibility for the leads they generate and send through the pipeline and remain involved in the full cycle.
Marketers need to leverage technology not to simply send more leads to sales faster than ever before, but to cultivate qualified ones. Marketing automation and AI can be valuable tools, but only when the technology is driven by smart best practices, including mutual agreement on the definition of a lead; account-based management processes that enable sales and marketing to work together toward common goals; and ingrained understanding that it takes more than one channel to get the job done.
Marketers should be able to optimize and strategize alongside all revenue leaders, have specific targets, be measured, compensated, and contribute to the overall strategy. Getting this process right is the only way to boost both top-line and bottom-line company growth.
Written by Andra L. Rubinstein, VP Marketing of renovai