A good friend of CMO Essentials, Samantha Stone just published a book entitled, Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook That Drives Sales.
I asked Samantha why she wrote the book and she told me, “After running marketing teams of my own and working with a lot of different clients, I realized that I was hearing many of the same questions and seeing people struggling with the same things, especially around interactions with sales. I wanted to answer these questions and, in the process of writing them down, I found that it really crystallize my beliefs.”
When I asked Samantha what these common problems were, she said that it all starts with how marketing and sales are measured.
Measuring the Right Things
“We measure things at the beginning of the process and at the end,” she said. “Marketing gets measured on the leads they create at the top of the funnel, and sales gets measured on deals closed at the bottom of the funnel. No one measures how buyers are moving through the funnel, however, which means that no one is held accountable for it.”
“This leads to irrational results,” Samantha said, “such as getting as many people into the top of the funnel as possible, regardless of what happens with them.”
To get rational results, of course, we need to measure marketing on the right things. But what are those “right things”?
Interestingly, the first “right thing” that Samantha says that marketers must do is understand their customers. And this isn’t about quantifying things; it’s about conducting qualitative research.
“We’ve hidden behind data for a long time now,” she said, “and foregone qualitative research. There are a lot of reasons for this. It takes time. It’s not easy. And it’s hard to measure the results.”
“My book shows you how to do it and what the actual results of such research can be,” Samantha said, “but the bottom line is this: People who don’t do this kind of research miss their goals.”
In addition to ongoing qualitative research into the actual needs of buyers, Samantha believes that marketers should measure things that truly matter.
“When all is said and done, we don’t need to measure the number of leads we’re generating or the open rates for our emails or clickthrough rates or whatever,” she said. “We need to measure how much marketing is affecting win rates. We also need to measure how effectively we are adding business that actually closes, in the segments we care about, to the pipeline.”
“Finally,” she said, “we have to measure the amount of time it takes us to move customers through the stages of the process.”
This last metric is partly about deal velocity, but it’s mostly about uncovering where the process is working and where “people are getting stuck.”
“We miss signals,” she said, “if we aren’t measuring the various stages of the buying process at a granular level. When we do this, however, it not only forces us to be more collaborative with sales, but it also allows us to fix things where they are actually broken.”
Being Accountable for the Buying Process
I was interested in Samantha’s focus on the process since I have heard so many times that the “real thing” marketing needs to measure is its influence and impact on revenue. That’s what matters most to the business owners, right?
“Of course, we need to keep an eye on revenue,” Samantha said, “but I think that marketing ought to be held accountable for moving customers through the buying process. After all, a company could hit its revenue number, but do it in a super inefficient way.”
“If you don’t focus on the process in the granular way I recommend,” she said, “no matter how much money you actually make, you don’t know how much money is getting left on the table.”